I’ve spent most Thanksgivings with my family, but some years I’ve gotten pretty lucky and spent the holidays somewhere very special. Some of these places include…
- Lake Havasu City AZ
Including going to Prescott Arizona and the Grand Canyon… (2004)
- Knotts Berry Farm and Disneyland!
Seeing the attractions, riding the rides, and even having pizza hut for my T-day dinner… (2005)
- Enchantment Resort
A 5-star resort in the heart of Sedona, AZ! (2009)
- A beach house
This was in Charleston, South Carolina, and we also visited Boone Hall Plantation… (2013)
This year is a very special Thanksgiving because at age 29 I was adopted this fall by the Fino family. This is the Hallmark Story.
On my 21st birthday, my birth dad (Let’s call him Big Daddy) was dying from cancer and we all knew that his days were numbered. I had this dress that my dad had hand-picked for me. He made me promise him that I must save this dress for something extraordinary, but not for his funeral.
In 2013 I went to Mob-Con as a newly self-published author, under my old pen name – Alexandra Forry. It was a three-day event to meet real mobsters and the lawmen who put ’em away, with speakers and the authors like me, selling their books (not to mention that it’s not every day you get to see mobsters, FBI, CIA, news reporters and true crime authors in one ballroom talking about the good old days and acting like old friends). It’s really a story by itself. Mob-Con had changed my life for the better because I met someone who changed everything.
The VIP cocktail party they threw the night before Mob-Con started was held at the Mob Attraction at the Tropicana. It was a perfect occasion to wear the dress that my Big Daddy would have wanted.
When I entered the room super early, I noticed a man was already there. He walked up and started talking to me as if he knew me my whole life. He explained that his name was Ronald Fino. Ronald, Ron, was one of the FBI’s foremost undercover operatives who worked in Russia and other such places. His wife, Alla, was Russian, and a gifted artist. I told Ron all about myself and my new book, his face lit up. He said to me that he would call me Sasha because it means Alexandra in Russian. He took a picture of us together. Writing about this memory fills my heart with joy. Little did I know that I had just met my dad. Thanks to Facebook, Ron and I developed a dear friendship. I ended up meeting Ron and Alla’s son Daniil the following year Mob-Con 2014.
In 2016, I had found myself homeless in Pahrump Nevada. I had nothing but my laptop, my prepaid cell phone, and the clothes I had on my back. That was when I reached out to Ron. When Ron heard of my dilemma, he offered me a place in his home in Williamsburg, Virginia, with his wife, Alla, and their son, Daniil. I immediately flew out to them.
We had our differences at first, yet we learned to compromise.
I never thought I would fall in love with the whole Fino family, This family’s love, interest, and understanding gave me a whole new outlook on life, and the encouragement to continue writing and to become involved in the cerebral palsy community.
I am, in essence, their adopted daughter.
Ronald’s career was in the Intelligence Community and law enforcement, and his family have a substantial commitment to fairness and justice for all. In Ronald, whom I consider my Dad, and Alla, my Mom, are the parents that I always wished I’d have. Daniil is my little brother that I dreamed of having. I remember when this guy came over to our house to meet with my dad, who wasn’t home just yet. Daniil keep a watchful eye on me until dad got home.
I discovered how fulfilling life with cerebral palsy could be with the right family, activities, and unconditional love.
Then, I was adopted.
That day Ron and Allan signed the papers and made the oath to be my parents was one of those days that I hold dear in my heart. The judge’s blessing officially meant that I was adopted.
The other day, Perry Cuomo’s world-famous song “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays” came on the radio. It made me smile knowing that, at last, I will be home for the holidays.
“Wear your Cerebral Palsy as a badge of courage!” ~Amanda Fino
Amanda is the author of Cerebral Palsy Gal: A Novella, My Autobiography, Omerta: Timeless Endings, as well as a host of other works of adult fiction. She is an advocate for people with disabilities and has worked tirelessly to educate others on living with cerebral palsy. Amanda lives in Virginia with her beloved family, two cats, and two dogs. She also enjoys being a blogger.