It takes a loving and caring couple to bring an adopted child into their home. And every year, thousands of couples make room in their homes—and their hearts—for these special children. This story collection celebrates the individuals and families who experience these feelings firsthand. From first-time parents, anxiously awaiting the phone call that their little one has arrived to a single woman who crosses the Atlantic to find her heart’s child, this inspiring collection will touch every person who picks it up. The newest volume from the beloved and bestselling Cup of Comfort® series is sure to resonate with the thousands of happy couples who adopt children every year—and those looking to become mothers and fathers.
JM gives an overview of the book:
I know little about my background. I feel like parts of me are missing, because I don’t know where I come from or, at least, from where half of my heritage springs. I was adopted within a family, and only half my history is mine; the other half is silent.
Being adopted means being a stranger to yourself and to your family. They don’t understand the emptiness you feel every time they go through family photos. The family is yours by choice, their choice, and not by blood. You have as much connection to the faces and stories in a history book as you do to the faces in the family album. They’re interesting and familiar, but no matter how much time you spend looking and hoping, there is no connection. I am luckier than most; I see my face in a few of those tattered and faded pictures, the half of my heritage we seldom visit and of whom we have no records.
Like a stranger in a new country, I learned the language and speak with a good accent. However, I don’t think in the language I learned. I am always running up against entrenched customs and asking why. I can’t just accept. I want answers. They don’t understand the questions. I am a cuckoo in a barn swallow’s nest, a changeling.
I was surprised when my mother showed me a letter written by her great grandmother, the heritage that belongs to my brother and sisters. Their roots grew from those flowing lines of fading script. The letter was dated just after the turn of the century. Yellow and ragged with age, it was written to Amanda’s children—all ten of them.
“You’re the only one who would appreciate this,” my mother said when she gave it to me. “You’re a lot like Amanda.”
Amanda wrote of how her father came to America from Europe to build a better life for his family. He continued his family traditions, farming the dark rich soil of the Midwest. He grew vegetables unlike those found in his neighbors’ gardens. Among the staple crops of potatoes and carrots, beans and corn, he planted fruits and vegetables familiar to generations of his people.
As Amanda described her life, the colors and smells of her father’s fields sprang to life around me. She wrote about the Hungarian peppers her father grew; how they burned deliciously on her tongue when she sneaked a taste of their fiery liquor from the canning pot. Money was scarce, but Amanda explained there was always plenty to eat. She preserved each season’s harvest in bottles and jars—and in words.
In each sentence and glowing verb, she painted her life in brilliant hues of hard work and the satisfaction of planning for the future. She outlined her dreams in shades of acceptance. She could never afford more education than she received at the local school and regretted she didn’t have enough talent to be a writer.
She was brought up to be a farmer’s wife. She would bear strong sons and daughters to continue the farming tradition. And she harbored the hope that one of her children would realize her ambitions and be a writer.
I was transported to her world. I walked beside her as she picked multi-hued produce to eat and to preserve for the long cold winters when the fields were blanketed in soft white. We gathered eggs still warm from the nests. We milked the cows. Aiming the white streams into shining aluminum pails, the milk frothed and steamed in the cold morning air. I understood the yearning to capture life in all its hardships and bounty, just as Amanda had when she chronicled her life. Through her descriptions of her garden, she helped her children to see the life she had lived, and shared her hopes and dreams.
When I finished reading Amanda’s letter, I called my mother and asked her to tell me more about her grandmother. She told me that Amanda had written to each and every one of her children religiously, offering them glimpses of the world she knew and the world she was coming to understand as her children moved away from the farm and on to other lives. In each letter, Amanda sowed the seeds of the past, tended the fruits of the present, and harvested her hopes for the future. Every letter was full of the life that flourished in her garden.
I copied Amanda’s words onto my computer and marveled at what she had created in plain words and simple sentences. Her writing was never published, but there is no doubt she was a writer. Her gift was as beautiful and as rich as the vegetables she preserved like seeds in her letters.
Amanda’s children never wrote more than occasional letters to their mother, each other, and their children. None of them or their children realized their mother’s dream. Amanda’s blood does not flow through my veins, but her dreams are mine. We are related, not by blood but through the writing that I have tended and planted with the seeds of the past—Amanda’s seeds. She is my connection. I am heir to her dream.
I submitted "Amanda's Seeds" to Colleen Sell in 2002 as a reprint. It was my first published story and I thought it would fit well in "A Cup of Comfort for Writers." Colleen evidently didn't agree because the story was rejected. Five years later, Colleen contacted me to ask if she could buy the story for "A Cup of Comfort for Adoptive Families." She had saved it for a future book, this book. And it all started with a letter, Amanda May Connell's letter to her children, a letter she hoped would spark a dormant writing gene. Amanda was brought up to be a wife and a mother. Becoming a writer was a pipe dream she didn't dare believe in.
Although chronologically middle-aged, I still feel like a youth except on those mornings when time, temperature and joints more used to sitting and typing than running, walking or just moving remind me I have been around a while; then I'm about 432.
At the foot...