This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.
Adopting a Family around the holidays through your church, temple, women’s group, etc. is a very popular way to help those in need during the holidays. It’s a great way to show your children that the holidays are not just about presents, and to expose them to families who do not have as much as they do.
My family used to do it through our church. The families’ wishes decorated a Christmas tree like ornaments, and you picked one up and anonymously shared your Christmas with them.
Radio stations do it too. As a former on-air personality, every day towards the holidays, I used to talk about a family in need and how they could get involved. Kids needed and wanted toys and clothes, and the mother and father would ask for things like a winter coat and other warm clothing.
One year I went all out. I adopted one little girl about ten–years-old from the organization my radio station was working with. I bought her clothes from the Limited Too, a diary, and what ever else was on her list. I even bought a matching outfit for myself. I knew I would never get to see her, but it always reminded me of her. I felt so good being able to make her holidays magical.
Which brings me to how my family of three went from Adopting a Family to being an Adopt a Family.
Before we had our child, my husband and I both suffered from medical issues. We never thought that our illnesses might get worse and how seriously they would impact our lives. Due to an understanding that since I am the blogger, I made a promise to my husband that I would not delve into the specifics of his illnesses, but I suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and Costochondritis, just to name a few. In 2008 my husband was already out of work from chronic illness. I was the main breadwinner in our family so it did not hurt us too much financially.
In the Fall of October 2007, I began to get sicker. The medicine I was on stopped working. I forced myself to go to work, I had to. I used to come to work on so many narcotics just so I could get to a “normal” point where I could keep working. The 40-minute commute started to take its toll as well, and there were some times where I would nod off driving during the commute. I thank God that I never hurt myself, or anyone else.
In March of 2008 I was laid off due to my company losing an important client. I was upset, naturally, but I thought perhaps that this was a good thing, as maybe I just needed some time to rest. Instead, I got sicker and sicker, sometimes by the day. Eventually, I was diagnosed with Lupus. That was in the summer of 2008. I had worked five years with major chronic illnesses, but finally my body told me, “You cannot do this any more. I will no longer let you make me sicker by working.” It really was an Epihany for me.
My husband I had a large amount of money saved in the bank, most of which is gone now. We are both going through the disability process, which can take up to two years. We now qualify for Food Stamps and live under the poverty line. We owe over $30,000 in credit-card debt and are being partially supported by my husband’s parents and my mother.
Last year an Adopt a Family package came to us, and I was stunned when it was for us. We declined the program, thinking that we could buy our son Christmas gifts from the money our parents would give us. We were too proud to take part in being on the adopting end.
This year, especially with our four-year-old already talking about Christmas and Santa Claus, pride went out the window and we decided to fill out the application in order to be adopted.
Although the families are anonymous, I fear seeing our family profile on the bulletin board in my son’s school. Today I heard someone on the radio talking about a family to adopt. I thought back to the days when I would ask my audience to adopt a family, and I cried.
Adopt a Family is the only way we can give our son a decent Christmas this year.
What are the odds that two spouses would become so ill that they both cannot work any more? I have no hard facts, but it’s got to be pretty uncommon.
Sometimes when you adopt a family for the holidays, you wonder what that family’s story is. Like how did they let things get to where they are now? When I go to my county’s Boards of Social Services for Food Stamps or when I pick up my WIC
checks, I look around and wonder the same thing.
My husband and I are both college graduates. We used to make a six-figure income. Now he is a free-lance writer, and I do free-lance voiceover work, but illnesses don’t discriminate.
This is our story.