Never in my life could I have anticipated all that transpired in 2011. For someone who takes great comfort in sticking to a plan, a year full of surprises was not easy, yet each step towards my family reunification this past year led to a greater level of understanding and awareness beyond my wildest dreams.

After 39 years, I finally got to have my first dance with my father. Christmas Day, for the first time ever, I got to exchange gifts with my beloved brother and enjoy a wonderful meal surrounded by relatives that share some of my same features, characteristics and quirks. Something that so many of my friends have taken for granted all these years– the gift of a family bond, has finally become my own reality.

This past year I learned an incredibly important lesson: life is unpredicable, and sometimes you have to let go of the outcome and just enjoy the journey. Meanwhile, my son got to observe first-hand that the best gift does not come in some package under a tree. We now have a family to share life with, and that unconditional love could not be purchased with any sum of money.

My message going forward into the new year is that we should never lose hope– dreams do come true. Things may not happen according to our time-frame, but if I could reunite my family after all these years, anything is possible as long as we are willing to make some tough choices and face some of our greatest fears.