Another Thanksgiving Week That Changed My Life

Thanksgiving week changed the course of my life twice. The first time, I was four months old. November 25, 1964, the day before Thanksgiving, I was adopted. Leaving Williamsport that day, I became a member of a new family in Lansdale, one that had a mom, dad, big sister, and Chihuahua. The next day was my first Thanksgiving dinner, where I was passed around among my new family members. Of course, I don’t remember it, but I do remember later Thanksgiving dinners with my extended family. They were always happy and loud, and I’m sure that first one was no exception.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving week, 1981. The night before Thanksgiving, November 25, 1981, Doug and I had a DTR conversation (Determine The Relationship). That night we came to the conclusion we wanted to begin a new relationship. Our friendship had grown into more, and it was time to make it official. Our first date was two days later, November 27, 1981. It was a good decision. We are still dating.

Then this Thanksgiving came along. When the month started, it seemed like it would be just like any other November leading up to the raucous family dinner on Thanksgiving Day. I was hosting this year, so there was turkey to order, plans to make, menus to prepare, and silver to polish. Lots to do, so I nearly forgot that I had sent away for my original birth certificate. Earlier this year, Pennsylvania offered adoptees their original birth certificates for a fee of $20. So, I filled out the application and sent the check to the state in June. When I balanced the checkbook last month, that check still hadn’t been cashed. I noted it so my checkbook would balance (I still do that) and promptly forgot about it.

Sorting through the mail on November 13, I saw something official-looking from the state. That’s when I remembered the birth certificate. I just stared at it for a few seconds, telling myself not to be disappointed if it didn’t have my birth parents names on it–there was every chance it didn’t. I opened the envelope and unfolded the single piece of paper. My eyes read my birth name, which I already knew, and then fell to my mother’s name. It was there. No father’s name, but for the first time in 53 years, I knew my birth mother’s name. I grabbed my phone to call my cousin, who was the one working on my family tree. She was at least as excited as I was. But the question remained, would it lead anywhere?

A week went by with Thanksgiving closing in and no news from my cousin. I was so busy, I put the birth certificate out of my mind. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving I picked up the turkey, got my hair cut, ran around doing last minute errands, and got a call from my cousin. She had news and would stop by later in the day.

She sat at my dining room table with papers and pictures. There were names and faces–faces that looked like mine. She found my birth family. Not only had she found them, but she had spoken to one of them. That one wanted to talk to me. It was overwhelming. I couldn’t believe this was happening.

The next day, the day before Thanksgiving, I got a call. It was surreal. I was speaking to someone who was there when I was born. The day after Thanksgiving, another call from another family member. How could this be happening? I haven’t stopped smiling since, but I have stopped sleeping, with so many thoughts and questions and plans swirling around in my head. I am thoroughly enjoying the twist this year’s Thanksgiving week has brought into my life.

I have always believed that God put me in the family he designed me to be in, even though my younger years were not all puppies and smiles. It was all part of his plan, as was bringing Doug into my life. And now he’s brought along people I wondered about but never thought I would know, and I am so thankful for all he has done and eager to see what else is in store for me.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NASB)

(Disclaimer: some of you know my birth name. Please do not refer to it if you comment on this blog post. Most of my birth family does not know about me, which is why I didn’t use any names or my relationship to them in my story. I want to respect their privacy–y’all know I am an acquired taste, give them time to get used to me. Thanks!)

Author: Lisa J Radcliff

"Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together." ~ Psalm 34:3 This has been the theme verse for my life since I married Doug in 1985. I hope to write thoughts and stories that will magnify the Lord and cause others to praise him with me. As a survivor of child sexual abuse and other experiences that left me fearful and hopeless, I am so thankful that God has turned my life around. Having found freedom from my past, I have been blessed with a full, joy-filled life. I am passionate about sharing my story with others to bring them hope. My book, Hidden with Christ: Breaking Free from the Grip of Your Past, is my story of overcoming CSA. It is written differently than most books on abuse, highlighting the "heroes" God put in my life who kept me from be swallowed up by the darkness of abuse. God has used the book to help others find freedom which gives me great joy. The biggest joys of my life are being married to my husband, Doug, raising our three boys, welcoming our three daughters-in-law into the family, and being Mom-mom to our eight grandchildren! In addition, I have served in youth ministry and taught women's Bible Study for over 30 years.

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