More on those incredible moments later...
This post is dedicated to one of the most treasured experiences of our summer so far, a reunion with the Caldwell family.
... Jarman... Campbell... You might have noticed there is no Caldwell in either of those names.
Enter exhibit A: Our family tree, a mix of tangled roots and branches extending out in every direction, across oceans, climates, cultures, and religions...and right on to Vernal, Utah where we connect with the Caldwell Family. Here's how we explain the Caldwell branch of our tree:
The woman in the center is Freda Caldwell (a.k.a. Grandma Caldwell). She is the mother of (left to right) Susan, Marcia, and Brenda. Susan is the mother of Nick Weaver, who married my sister, Ruth and were the parents of Joie. Joie became a part of our family in August of 2007 when her parents and baby sister died in a car accident. We were warmly welcomed into the Caldwell family several weeks ago when we attended their reunion.
Our new extended family:
Grandma Caldwell with her grandchildren and their spouses.
Grandma Caldwell's great-grandchildren.
So let me tell you about the Caldwell Family. Their idea of an adventure is taking the entire family rafting down a river with ginormous rapids, dumping half the family in the river and getting a thrill out of pulling people back into rafts, fishing water bottles, shoes and oars out of the river, and continuing the journey in a partially deflated raft... And that's just the beginning!
The next phase of the reunion included hunting for cell phone reception and finding our way back down the mountain without keys to vehicles because yes, those were also dumped in the river.
Ok, ok... So the real story is far less exciting than that. We did end up in the river while going over class one rapids, but I've found it necessary to embellish the story because every time I tell someone what happened, they say, "There are rapids on that stretch of the river?" To which I've learned to reply, "Yes, very small ones. And apparently if you get the right combination of people in a raft who don't know what they're doing, it is possible to get a raft high-sided on that stretch of the river." Enough said. The blessing is that we're all ok and eventually ended up with keys to all the vehicles and all members of the Caldwell (and Jarman) families made it back down the mountain to enjoy the rest of the reunion. Dear Caldwell Family: If this was initiation, are we in?
The rapids are just ahead...I swear!
A few more reunion memories...
Joie had a cousin sleepover at Aunt Brenda's
(Joie, Lexi, and Whitney)
Family work project at Grandma Caldwell's
And lots of chatting...
Since Joie has been a part of our family, we've counted the love and support of friends and family among our greatest blessings. Having worked in adoption for a long time, and having adoption touch our own family in a variety of ways, I have had the thought many times, "There is no limit to the number of people who can love a child." Sometimes the world says otherwise.
The Caldwells say it wasn't a big deal to invite strangers to their reunion. That's just the kind of people they are. But to one family who helped a little girl gain access to her entire extended family through their gift of inviting strangers to their reunion we say, "Thank you!"