Christmas has always been a difficult time for me. It is a family time, and when you are living in a country with no family, then that big day becomes problematic.
When I was younger, it didn't seem to matter so much, as I would get together with other 'orphans' in the city and we would have a fabulous Christmas Day with people from all over the world. Great merriment was had, over wine and stories, and for that short time we created our own international family.
Then, as people started to meet their partners, the focus for Christmas shifted and it was more a couple thing and meeting up for part of the day for exchanging gifts and a spot of sherry.
And when relationships developed further, it became time with the 'in-laws' , who never quite had the right idea about celebration. I in fact one year refused to attend the Christmas meal if it was dished up on a plate for me! Christmas to me is about sitting at the table, breaking the proverbial bread and creating bonds that will last into the future. The meal goes on and on as more delights are bought onto the table. In this family, one sat in the lounge until the call came that 'dinner was on the table'. And there it was our plates of food with sliced turkey and all the trimmings whether you wanted them or not. No time for seconds, the minute your plate was finished then it was whipped away and Christmas pudding plopped down in front of you. The second your spoon hit the empty dish - the whole meal was over. 20 minutes max!! Needless to say I am not longer in that relationship.
When my little one came home, we were spoilt for choice as we were invited to spend the whole Christmas weekend with friends out of London. It was fabulous to be invited into the bosom of other people's families. But now we are family. And although there is just the two of us, it is fantastic to be at home on this day and just be, just be together, together as a family.
And this is what is so special about adoption. It creates a family, not only for a child growing up without parental care, but for your and your partner as well. Adoption completes the family, it creates a family, it makes a family.
I am sure that many couples and singles reading this will, be thinking about their own nuclear family at this time of the year. As we gather the gifts for our friends and relations, no doubt you are wishing to be looking at toys and teddies and wishing that you had a child who you could spoil. A child who you could create the magic of Christmas for, and to give that warm and fuzzy feeling of being in a strong and loving unit, together, protecting and protected from the cold.
Sadly, there are millions of children who will not be experiencing that warm and fuzzy feeling - not only now, but ever. Without a family, there is no warm and fuzzy feeling. There is only fear, and anxiety, and insecurity - no matter what environment they are living in. One day, the orphanage will throw them out, one day at 16 they will age out of foster care and have to fend for themselves, alone and without the tools to survive.
The thought is horrific.
For me Christmas Day has been problematic, for these children everyday is problematic. Without a secure roof over their head they have no choice but to live on the streets, or under the streets, to keep warm. They form gangs for survival and protection. They are vulnerable to the elements, to crime, to authorities. Spare a thought for them. There will be no waking up early and dashing down stairs to gaze in awe at the abundance that Santa has bought, or licking their lips at the tasty smell emanating out the kitchen. They could not even imagine it.
My son comes from Russia, had I not adopted him he would in several years time,age out of the system and join the almost one million children that live on the streets. He no doubt will become one of the statistics. 21% of Russian orphanage kids are dead before their 21st birthday. Imagine that, a whole childhood in an orphanage and a short adulthood, cut down by murder or suicide, without love. I cry as a write this, because it is just so sad.
When I think of all those children in my son's orphanage, who I just wanted to 'pick up and put in my pocket', it breaks my heart. What are their futures to be? What are their chances? And importantly, what can I do about it?
I wanted to adopt a dozen children, but I couldn't, but what I can do is help you to navigate your way through the system so that you too can find your child. So that you too can wrap your arms around your child and tell them that they are safe. So that you too, can spend hours secretly working the magic of Christmas with the one object in mind - to see the glorious smile of a child enchanted by the gift of love.