Several weeks ago, my family took our summer vacation back to the small town in eastern Montana where I grew up. This was the first time I had been back since I moved away which meant that it was the first time my wife and children as well. For those of you whom have never been to eastern Montana, it is a beautiful but harsh land dominated by badlands and wheat fields. Towns are few and far between, and even the houses are well off the road, typically out of site. The small town that I still call where I am from is now even smaller, the byproduct of an economy built on agriculture and the simple fact that it is a harsh and unforgiving land. However, even though I have lived in Iowa far longer than I lived in Montana, I still call Montana my home. It is what shaped me the most during my formidable years.

This got me thinking about what my children will say to many questions centered around where they are from. In their heart and mind, where is home? Is it the country that they were born in or is it where we live now? In all likelihood, as they go through different stages in their life, the answer may change. I am proud of both answers because I know that both make up the ingredients that have baked them. One is the geographical location that will forever define them, the other is the upbringing that shapes them.

As children grow, they will inevitably complain about the place where they grew up and will talk about the only thing that they want is to get out of the town that they are in. That is a part of the growth process, the need to leave the nest. However, once they have had the opportunity to flex their wings and experience life, they will begin to evaluate the people, places, and events that shaped their lives. For a child born of adoption, there may be one or more unique chapters that are not found in other stories. Those chapters may be happy or sad, long or short, but nonetheless are a section of the trail that is behind them.

For me, the trail starts in Montana in a small home in a small town. That small house was filled with big love of family and Christ, and that town was filled with a courage to stand in the face of adversity and never back down. They both shape who I am. Sometime in the future, my children will be able to tell people where they are from, and I look forward to hearing them answer the question.