"Gotcha" Day

Dear Dan and Christy,

Fourteen years and a few months ago, I was told that I would soon have a younger brother and sister. We weren't born from the same mother, but we would share a mother. We weren't born in the same country, but we would share a home. We weren't bound by similar DNA, but by something much more beautiful and lasting - we would be bound by love, for each other and from a God who placed you in the Bittner family before the foundation of the world.

When I found out about you, I envisioned car seats, tiny toes and diapers. At seven-years-old, I had a picture of what a toddler looked like, and I couldn't wait to have two of my own. When we received photos of you in the mail, Mom made copies. I watched her put your photos in her Bible, and I did the same. We prepared a room for you, covered in Disney paraphernalia - Christy's sheets were Minnie, Dan's were Mickey. I loved collecting my own toys to share with you and going with Mom to find new blocks, cars and action figures. Later, on Christmas, I would realize that we hadn't needed to buy you toys. All the big gifts were for you. But I'm not bitter. :)

And then the day came when Mom and Dad left Jillian and me in Grammy and Grandaddy's capable hands. While their grand-parental sympathy was superb and allowed us quite a few of our own trips to the toy store, we wanted everyone to come home. We had waited long enough.

So fourteen years ago today, we became a family of six. It was on November 22nd that you legally became Bittners. Days later, you were in my arms.

I'll never forget the confusion on your faces as you came through the gates at the airport. I'll never forget my nervous excitement in seeing you for the first time. I'll never forget how happy the moment was, with everyone together at last. I had already forgotten about my expected vision. You were no longer some imagined dream of what toddlers were like - you were my little brother and sister.

Now you're teenagers with your own dreams, talents and plans.

Dan: You've become a tall, strong, independent man. I admire how you're able to talk to anyone and look past any differences. You love being outside, watching the weather change, biking or running around town, camping and fishing. I'm amazed with what you can do in a garden. You have a rare ability to make anything grow. You also have the profound gift of making people feel welcome and wanted. I am so blessed to be able to call you my brother and I'm always here for you.

Christy: You've become the girl who does it all - from Cupcake Club, Stage Crew and Tae Kwon Do to Softball and Camp. You're a wonderful student and a great friend. You see friend-potential in almost everyone you meet. I can't believe how grown up you've become in the last few years - you're now a beautiful, mature young woman. No matter where I live, always know that I'd drop everything to talk to you.

I love you both, so incredibly much. Happy "Gotcha" Day!

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