He who plants a tree

Plants a hope.

~Lucy Larcom, “Plant a Tree”

Picture your family as a tree. What tree would yours be? Would yours stand tall and tough through the worst droughts like a South African baobab (think Rafiki’s tree in The Lion King), growing upward to nearly 100 feet tall and boasting fire-resistant bark? Or would yours grow graceful and welcoming like a weeping willow, with bendy branches that beckon passersby to come and sit beneath for awhile? How about something more understated and unassuming like a trusty ole maple—but popping with lots of colorful foliage in the fall, leaving behind a big happy mess? Or maybe something dependable and easy to manage, like a stately evergreen that remains seemingly unchanged despite the changing seasons?

The tree has long been associated with the family—as in the tree of life referenced in the Bible story about the Garden of Eden or the symbolic family tree that children are so often tasked to work on as a school project—with revealing roots that run deep and branches that reach high and wide.

Much like a bud on a branch, a child entering your family via adoption brings new growth to your family tree, requiring proper care not just to survive, but to thrive.

The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit. ~Nelson Henderson

The words family and future go hand in hand. Just like Henderson’s quote implies, what we do for and with our families today will surely impact the lives of our loved ones for years to come. And although we may not be around to enjoy the fruits of our labor, it’s an inherent sense of wanting the best for our young long after we’re gone that prompts us to take care of our family—-our tree—today, to be present and to encourage continued and healthy growth when our little ones have grown big enough to stand on their own.

Young trees especially require attention and care in the same way that your growing family requires so much TLC: from where we choose to plant our family (often taking into consideration community, schools, and extended family) to providing proper nourishment for hungry mouths (the never-ending struggle to eat healthy vs. sneaking in takeout on a busy night) to how we treat our loved ones through all of the extremes life throws our way to how we prepare for and protect our family from outside elements beyond our control.

No matter what sort of tree you imagine your family to be, go ahead and give yourself a great big hug—that’s right, be a tree hugger! Tend to your family the way an arborist tends to his tree to establish strong roots that will someday lead to strong, long limbs that allow your loved ones to reach their dreams.