November is the month where we pause to give thanks for the good things in our lives. The turkey, cranberries, and pumpkin pie and all the other yummy-ness that inspires us to wear our super-stretchy pants to the dinner table might take center stage, but the underlying message is one of gratitude. It might seem like a Pollyanna-ish way of looking at life, but I’ve always believed that no matter how tough things get you can always find that silver lining and something to be thankful for.
Along with Thanksgiving, November is also the month we celebrate adoption. November is established as National Adoption Awareness Month by presidential proclamation. Is it a coincidence that we celebrate adoption and thankfulness during the same month? Maybe. As a mom who’s become a mom through adoption, I like to think it’s more than coincidence. At any rate, being a mom is at the top of my list of things I’m thankful for.
And I’m not alone.
If the news you’ve seen floating through your social media feed this month has left you feeling defeated, deflated, angry, or worried, then you need to watch this video. Just trust me.
A judge in Des Moines, Iowa, had the honor of presiding over 70 adoptions on a recent November “Adoption Day.” Adoption Day is a day of joy in this courtroom, and many of the typical anxieties we might associate with entering a courthouse are absent. There’s no stress over verdicts, sentences, or fines. There are teddy bears, noisy children, balloons, and happy families celebrating becoming families.
And, this extraordinary courtroom is presided over by an extraordinary judge.
Judge Robert Blake gives a whole new meaning to “taking your work home.” Judge Blake makes each child appearing in court during Adoption Day a wooden car in his home workshop. What started as a stress-relieving hobby has turned into a labor of love that results in a tangible memento of family. Judge Blake spent over 24 hours hand-crafting 50 toys for this year’s Adoption Day. He posed for pictures with smiling families, wore silly hats, and in general, conducted himself in a very un-judicial matter.
Don’t you love it?
“It’s amazing that he would take all that time to make a car for every single kid who came in here today,” remarked one parent.
The judge was quick to overrule that new dad’s statement.
“It pales in comparison to what these parents are doing for these children,” says Judge Blake. “Toys create a smile but adoption creates a family.”
The families who finalized their adoptions in Judge Blake’s courtroom will no doubt have these moments stored in their memory bank forever. When they pause on Thanksgiving this year and in years to come, they’ll remember that day and that moment … and thanks to a judge that “gets it,” they’ll have a keepsake that will remind them of how they became a family.
Adoption is a bittersweet celebration. My children are a blessing in my life that I’m thankful for every day, but I fully realize that my family’s blessing stems from another family’s loss. I’ve never been in Judge Blake’s courtroom, but I know exactly how those parents feel. Every detail of my own sons’ Adoption Days are forever etched in my memory. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a mom — every single sleepless, sticky, stepping on LEGOs minute of it. Judge Blake’s enormous heart is surely something the parents in this video are thankful for this year.
Okay, maybe not the part about the LEGOs … those mothers hurt.