Parents who found their children in China talk of a thin, red thread that stretches across the sea and connects them to one another.

Parents of children from Ukraine speak of a feeling they get in their heart when they see a child for the first time in an orphanage there.

Perhaps it’s something in the eyes, young and round and hungry for love that only parents can give that makes them pause and look no further than that one sweet face. Parents who found their children through a picture tell of a voice that says softly and surely that this one is theirs. Parents who are selected by birthmothers will speak of special connections and shared experiences between themselves and a woman that they never would have met if it hadn’t been for the mutual love of one tiny person.

It’s strangely simple and yet magnificent, the ties that bind parents to a child. That parental love doesn’t necessarily spring forth from the womb, doesn’t necessarily share common blood, doesn’t necessarily share anything at all except the ability to be given and received.

And from this love a house of family is built. And a child grows within this house into a person who knows what it is like to be cherished. To view carnivals atop strong shoulders and snuggle safe at night by the side of the Story Teller. To taste the cool sweetness of ice cream and feel grass beneath bare feet, simultaneously, while intoxicated by the summer sun itself.

This child grows to know what it’s like to have someone kiss the hurt away and chase the monsters from beneath the bed to a faraway land, never to be heard from again. To laugh until the tears come, to brush the tears away with laughter. To make shapes of clouds and to follow them across the sky until they disappear to Never-Never in the horizon. To stand atop a hill and view a thousand bright butterflies in the valley below and know that these are their hopes and dreams and they can hold each and every one for a moment or for eternity if they wish.

In this house, a child learns to dream. Some people never see the red thread or feel the pounding of their heart as they glance into the innocent eyes of destiny. They don’t see the pictures, they miss the connections. They speak of retirement and a house of their own, free from sticky fingerprints and scattered toys. For them, perhaps it is fine to have never known.

But as for me, I am thankful for the opportunity to feel a tiny hand in mine. The tired weight upon my shoulders and a worn out book that simply must be read again. The napkin in my pocket for wiping ice cream off one’s chin, hurts that wait for my kisses and late-night monster chases. Glad I am, to hear the laughter and to gaze at the sky as it grows and changes more quickly even than the child who watches the transformation with me. To watch in wonder as the butterflies beat their beautiful wings and take flight. One after the other, in endless celebration.

In this house, a child learns to dream. I get the simple, yet magnificent, task of being there to witness it happening, and of knowing that it all began with the love of one tiny person.