Home for Halloween? An adoption story

This is why Halloween is Pat Miller's favorite holiday.I love my children.

That’s not an unusual thing to say. Most parents love their children in a way they find hard to describe and might not even have imagined was possible before those children arrived.

But while I always love my children, I love them most this time of year. Right around Halloween.

Why? It all goes back 17 years or so. At that time, my husband and I had filed paperwork to adopt a child from China and were waiting to be matched with a baby. All things considered, we were being very calm and very patient.

Until our social worker left a message saying there might be a problem. We called back and found out that China was re-evaluating its rules for international adoption, and our application might be denied because we were younger than their stated age preference for parents. We would have to wait for a government committee miles and miles and miles away to make a decision.

Until that happened, our adoption was on hold.

As we waited, less patiently and less calmly, Halloween came. As each costumed toddler came to my door and looked up at me with wondering eyes or whispered, “Trick or treat!” I felt sadder. Eventually, I let myself indulge in some self-pity.

These people all had children. I did not. Maybe I never would. It wasn’t fair.

Once, I was telling this story to a friend – trying to explain why Halloween was my favorite holiday. She interrupted me at this point to say, “This is a horrible story! How can Halloween be your favorite holiday when that happened?”

Halloween is, indeed, my favorite holiday, but it isn’t because of the Halloween I didn’t have my daughter. It’s because of the Halloween that happened one year later.

By then, China had determined its guidelines. We had qualified to adopt, and we’d even traveled to China and returned with our oldest daughter.

By that Halloween, she was 18 months old. We dressed her in the cutest pumpkin costume ever and she toddled around the neighborhood holding my hand and looking up at everyone who answered the door with wondering eyes.

I would have enjoyed those moments under any circumstances. But comparing my happiness that Halloween to my sadness the previous one made the first Halloween with my daughter that much sweeter.

So every Halloween, I remember how thankful I am for that little pumpkin, who has grown up into a talented, intelligent and only occasionally exasperating teen.

She and I won’t be trick-or-treating this Halloween, but I will definitely be remembering how thankful I am that she is in my life. 

30 Days of ThanksEditor's note: Give yourself permission to practice gratitude! Each day during November, American Family Insurance will share ideas for showing appreciation for the people, things and events in our lives. We hope you use these 30 Days of Thanks as an opportunity to share your gratitude -- or even just take a few moments each day to reflect on everything good in your life. Visit us on Facebook during November for inspiration and ideas as we celebrate 30 Days of Thanks. 

by Pat Zietlow Miller on Wed, Oct 30 2013 12:31 pm
Posted by Pat Zietlow Miller on Wed, Oct 30 2013 12:31 pm


Peg Miller said on Oct 30, 2013
Wonderful story. So glad that little pumpkin made it safely into your family!
Paul Bauman said on Oct 30, 2013
This is an awesome story, Pat! Thanks for sharing it.

In my own life, Halloween 18 years ago holds a special memory. It was the day our son took his first step.

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