HOLLINS, Va. (WFXR) — Seamus is just six years old, and like most six-year-olds, he wrote a letter to Santa.
Kids at Christmas are filled with hope. They believe, and they believe big.
For Seamus, though, hope is risky because he was in foster care for the first few years of his life. April and Chris Harrah were his foster parents and then became his adoptive parents, promising to love him all the time no matter what.
“Disappointed by the system. I’m not criticizing, but it’s not perfect and it creates some trauma of its own when you’re moved from place to place,” said April.
Hope is a luxury for foster kids, and it’s a luxury that many can’t afford.
The trauma from their early years lives in their hearts. Fear often outweighs hope. How many times can a heart break? How many times can you be let down by the adults in this world before you give up?
So when Seamus wrote a letter to Santa and put it in the mailbox, he was going out on a limb.
“You wouldn’t want something that’s supposed to be exciting like Santa to become another loss or something that is associated with loss. So when he sent the letter, he wanted to go everyday to see if Santa had written back,” April said. “And so I kept trying to sort of manage his expectations and just say, ‘Well, Santa gets lots of letters. I’m not sure he can respond to every letter. He might not be able to write you back.’ And so, we still talked about how he’ll still be coming to bring him presents and that kind of thing.”
That’s when an employee from the Hollins Post Office stepped in and decided to be the hope Seamus needed. The postal worker wrote a note and asked what could be done to help Seamus. A few days later, Seamus opened the mailbox and found a present — from Santa.
“I was surprised to get any sort of response. When you think about kids sending off letters to the North Pole to Santa Claus you sort of just send it out into the unknown, not really expecting anyone to do anything with that. But to have someone reach back out and try to engage. And low and behold, at the door, gift-wrapped, came a present with a nice letter explaining that this wasn’t it. Santa was still coming. This was just a little something beforehand,” said Chris.
The smile on Seamus says it all. For a child adopted out of foster care, for a child who had so many hopes dashed in his young life, hope is the greatest gift of all.
“When we adopted him, I got this necklace from a friend and it has little hearts on the front and on the back. It says ‘born in my heart.’ And so, he saw it one day. He was sitting on the counter in the kitchen, and he said, ‘I like your necklace,'” April explained. “I said, “Do you know what it says on the back? It says born in my heart because you didn’t grow in my tummy but you grew in my heart,’ and he leapt into my arms and squeezed me so tightly and he said, ‘I knew it!'”
Christmas is more than gifts, trees, and twinkling lights. Christmas is about following a star in the sky. It’s about hope. And as the post office in Hollins proved — hope can be delivered. It just takes one person going out of their way to do something kind for someone else.