remembering the woman who helped us become a family

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This is the time of year that I think back about what I have in my life, my family, my friends all of it. It is today that I think of Ellen Roseman, the adoption professional we worked with during our journey to parenthood. Who through her guidance and wisdom taught us what it would be like to be a family built through open adoption.

It was during our journey and being a part of her client base that we attended monthly meetings that were very influential in our learning and embracing what it means to be a family through open adoption. This was a place where we found our community and support. These meetings usually held on the last Saturday of the month were supportive, friendly full of discussion and always ended with a yummy potluck!

There was always a nuance, a way someone has handled a situation, the right approach that can be learned through hearing others experiences for the good and bad. I will say when I attended these meetings no matter the discussion I always walked away learning something new. It was not just prospective and adoptive parents who attended these meetings, it was birth parents, expectant parents and extended families. We witnessed the love of family in seeing the blend of families coming together through a child shared, loved and cared for.

Ellen was our guide sharing her wisdom and love that brought us to the family we are today and it did not stop after our girls’ official adoptions.  We continued to be a part of each other’s lives.

Ellen through her work and love for family created such a beautiful legacy in the adoption community, and living as we do with ALL of our family we celebrate her life by being in the moment. It was sad when our community lost this woman who taught so much to all of us about being a family.

We love you Ellen and think of you often even today.  Our girls miss you and so do Tim and I.

This is Day 4 of #NaBloPoMo #BlogHer

and the beat goes on …

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We are already three days into the Fall season, the daily beat of our lives rolls one day into the next. Leaves are beginning to turn and our annual Indian summer weather is at its peak.

Our girls have been back into their school routine for a month now.  It is hard to believe our summer break has already been over that long. Our oldest daughter is now a 4th grader and our youngest a 2nd grader.

There have been some fits and starts to this school year. Homework from the first day of school proved to create anger and frustration for our youngest.  The class was working on the story Chrysanthemum the young mouse learning about her name.  What could the anger be towards such a sweet story?  Well our youngest wasn’t sure she wanted to share her story about how she got her name.  You see her birth mom, my husband and I all worked together in naming her and she didn’t want to share her whole story.  We talked about what she was angry and frustrated about this homework assignment. She shared she didn’t want to tell her whole story she didn’t want everyone to know our family story.  We assured her that was ok.  We reminded her how we all came up with her name sharing the name definitions that helped us to choose the names she has. This seemed to make her brighten knowing the whole story but also there was a part she could share that was appropriate for her class mates.

As our younger daughter seemed to struggle with who and what to share about our family story this year, our older daughter was struggling with a bully in her classroom and for a second year being in a classroom without any of her friends.  The bullying began during summer on swim team and just our luck this girl was part of this years’ class.  As the school year started up, a new student at school started to harass our daughter and now she had to deal with two who were in her class day in and day out.  We tried to give her the tools to find her strength to walk away, say stop or whatever was needed as an incident occurred.  At the same time, I was in contact with the school principal and her teacher.  The principal didn’t seem to understand the enormity of this trifecta, being alone and isolated, and 2 bullies in her classroom.  Her teacher shared that she wouldn’t allow bullying but you know what? it isn’t always going to be in her classroom for her to stop.  What is the emotional toll day in and day out for my daughter to be in this class?  We are here to support our daughter, I am at the school helping in the classroom, and we have given her an emotional safe place to talk about what’s going on.  I see her sadness and it breaks my heart. I am still working on correcting this with the district and school principal.  I’ve been through this too and survived it alone and I can share this with her and hope together we can find her strength to make her way through.

I never knew the full extent of how our parenting would have an effect on our girls.  What I am sure about, is my being a stay-at-home mom is helping to know what’s going on at school for our girls and be aware of their daily lives.

With the start-up of school was the return of Fall soccer, Girl Scouts and our continued dance in ballet.  Our schedules after school are full and tight.  Friday is the only day without a practice or dance class.  We have managed to find our new balance for our activities so far but the tipping point could be the start-up of Sunday rehearsals for the Christmas ballet that both of our girls will be performing in this year.

While our girls have returned to school, I have signed on to work at our school as a substitute (as needed) lunch & yard duty person.  Right after I submitted my paperwork to the district our school needed me so M-F from 11:30-1:30 PM you will find me at school fulfilling my role.  My end date right now is in mid-October.  The extra bit of cash will be nice and I like that the job is not always 5 days every week.

Now the days are shorter with dark coming before 8 pm, our schedules are full with homework, soccer, dance, girl scouts and we are full swing into Fall.  It is at our nightly dinners we talk about our day.

How is your Fall starting?

Near the end of summer break

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It’s been awhile since I posted and I realized today as I sat her to think there are only 7 more days left in my girls summer break from school …

We have had an action packed time from swim team, ballet, birthday celebrations for each of them, girl scout day camp and travelling to birth family and family.

Our summer started with my oldest needing to learn the definition of disrespect. Preadolescence is a hard time as she tries to find her footing and I (we) try to parent her. This is all coupled with me going through menopause, fun times in our home cheers to mid-life mothering!

Family travel included our trip to Minnesota and visiting with and staying with my older daughter’s birth family.  We were so excited to stay and C’s sister’s home and really visit with everyone.  In addition to seeing and staying with her birth mother’s family we spent a great day with her birth father, his wife and her sister.  This visit came with some sadness for my younger daughter who was sad that it wasn’t her family we were with these days.  Our family cares for and loves our daughters equally so it wasn’t as if she was feeling lack of attention or love, but to her it was not being with her birth family that made her sad.  She and I talked and we discussed our family and our geography to each of our girls’ families.  J was born in CA and her birth family lives an hours’ drive away.  A was born in MN which requires to plan ahead for a visit both when C comes to visit and E or when we spend a part of our summer vacation visiting.  At seven she can understand that, but she was still sad that we weren’t visiting her family then and there.
During this summer, I felt a shift in my changes physically.  I had some challenges still being on the pill so took myself off a month ago which may or may not have been the best decision as I have been suffering more with my peri-menopausal symptoms.  I will be turning 52 in 3 months so I’m sure this is all part of the aging process.  This summer was my try at gluten-free eating and it has proved to be successful and I am happy to have tried and found the symptoms to go away.

The end of summer means a restart to our routine: alarm clock set, school, ballet, soccer, Girl Scouts.  I look forward to this but at the same time am sad that our more carefree days of summer break are nearly over.

How was your summer break?

who is real in your family?

re·al1  ˈrē(ə)l/ adjective 1.  actually existing as a thing or occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed. 2.  (of a substance or thing) not imitation or artificial; genuine. “the earring was presumably real gold”

It’s Friday, the eve eve of Mother’s Day.  My youngest at school pick up sheepishly shared that in class they made Mother’s Day cards and she made it for her birth mother who will be seeing on Saturday.  She seemed upset that she only made one, and I shared that if she wants to make a card for me she still can on Saturday.

That evening we could hear our girls screaming at each other in our back yard. It turns out our youngest was telling her sister, “You are NOT MY REAL SISTER!” which of course was hurting her sister.  This was a new conversation in our house, our youngest telling her sister they are not real sisters together.

Technically she is right.  Each of our girl’s was born to a different birth mother so they don’t share the same DNA.  It is through our family building of adoption that makes them sisters and that has never been questioned by them to each other until now.

Our younger daughter, now almost 7, has been processing a lot lately, with questions of why she is part of our family and how we came to be her parents… Yes this is Why we have Open Adoptions in our family Our family was built through domestic adoption, both of our girls entrusted to us at birth by their birth parents.

We live in a family with each of our girls and each of their birth families.  This is all our girls have always known. The newest conversation of “REAL” was brought up by our youngest and she seemed to be seeking answers to who is her real family? and who is not?  I was surprised to hear her use this term as it is something I am more accustomed to hear from strangers “do they see their REAL mom?, are they REAL sisters?” and more.

Adoption has been part of an ongoing conversation in our family since our girls were born, they’ve always known that they were born to another and placed with us.  They have relationships with their birth mothers and extended family and know their birth fathers too.

But it is this conversation that upsets me because I cannot fix my daughter’s losses and I cannot fix mine either.  I am here to try and help her process what she is feeling and she has her birth mother to ask these questions of too.    But these questions are a reminder to me that I am different as a mother.  My girls are not yet old enough to understand my loss too.  All of us have experienced loss in making our family. All of us live with this loss either out in the open or tucked away for private moments. The conversations last night brought a twinge to me that I know these will be conversations that we will continue to have as each of our daughter’s figure out who they are.  But sometimes the words hurt my heart.