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.

Juggling as fast as I can

woman_juggling_roles

A day in a life, my life as a stay at home mom is not sitting home watching TV or reading a book or even sitting and eating.  A day in my life can have me everywhere doing everything all at once.

Currently, I am the Girl Scout leader for each of my daughter’s troops, yep that’s 2 troops.  I have taken on the role for our Elementary school as the Girl Scout coordinator because no one else had.  I am a board member now of our Girl Scout Service Unit.  I am a board member for our school’s foundation.  I am the chair for our school’s largest fundraiser, the Auction Gala that is fast approaching in early March.

Girl Scouts is currently at the start of everyone’s favorite time of the year, cookie sales!  Luckily I have mom’s willing to take on pieces of the cookie manager role in each of the troops so the burden isn’t fully mine alone!

There are 24 of us volunteers helping to make our school’s Auction Gala be the best it can be.  I am in the trenches alongside each of them helping to get donations, looking at ways to tweak this event in its 11th year, organizing, delegating, sharing ideas, coordinating meetings and keeping all of us in good spirits as we work our buts off!

And in the midst of this, our youngest has shared with me that she is struggling some about what family she belongs in.  This is something we expected at some point to come up in her thinking and for us to talk about.  I just never thought she’d only be 6!

Both our girls have only known the way our family is, formed by adoption with ongoing family relationships with their birth families.  Most especially our relationships have been strongest with each of their birth mothers and their extended families.  So not a surprise to hear my little talk to me about adoption and our family as it’s our everyday life, just didn’t expect this kind of struggle that she is experiencing internally.

She knows and has always known that she did not come from my tummy where babies are before they are born.  She has known always that it was in the tummy of S that she grew and was loved from the start.  She knows that S chose us to be her parents and for her sister to be her sister.  We see S and it was right after a recent time together that my little shared what she was thinking.  I felt my heart tear into little pieces.  We let her share what she was feeling and tried our best to answer her.

Even with what we could answer, my husband and I think that a non-family member (therapist) versed in adoption and one who works with young children would be a better place for her to find herself and her answers.  With that said I got a referral from an adoption therapist with whom my husband and I have seen and drop in to see from time to time even still.

All my juggling fell aside I thought about what she must feel like but not knowing what she must feel like.  I wonder too if our older daughter has had similar thoughts but not shared them?  I needed to take the time to seek out a professional that I think will be a good fit.  Today I spoke with the one referred to us and I believe she will be a good fit but even still it must be a good fit for my daughter.  I liked her but it is my little who must find the comfort with her to talk and share her feelings.

So as I pick back up the balls and things I juggle in place, I will add this part to help my daughter and maybe both in time.

I am forever thankful to the community we built during our journey to parenthood through adoption.  It is this community I can turn to in times of need and they are there!

Do you have a community to lean on?

The birds & bees talk continues

talkin-bout-the-birds-and-the-bees

I did blush, well internally for sure.  You see there was never any talk about our bodies and what they do when I was growing up.  My mother signed the permission slip for first, the film strip in 4th grade, and then the movie in 5th grade about puberty and all that goes along with that.  When I got home after each event, she asked if I had any questions.  Yep that was the extent of my learning about my body and what it could do as a girl and woman.

We have taken a slightly different approach in our home.  We have regular matter of fact conversations and are open to questions about what is this and how does that work.  There may be days you may enter and hear a conversation about penises and vaginas.  I think back to when our oldest was just over 3 years old and asked me how she got into C’s tummy (her birth mother) yep that stumped me not so much the question but the age and it’s not the love and marriage conversation. After checking in with other mom friends who too are mothers through adoption I had a good response that I hoped would help answer her question with age appropriate discussion.  After that she followed up with a “how did I come out of there?” question which I could more easily answer since both my husband and I were at the hospital for her birth on C’s invitation.

We’ve been talking to our girls now 8 and 6 years old about what will be happening for them in the next few years as they reach puberty through some great books – The Care and Keeping of You 2 and It’s not the Stork. Our conversations have been on a question answer system as we read through these books and learn about what’s to come.

Recently we added a new dog to our family.  A 2-1/2 year old male German Short-haired Pointer, Freidmann.  He joins our other dog, Pepper a 19-month old female Weimaraner.  As the two dogs have been bonding, there have been more than playful encounters.  Ones where the male dog has jumped onto the rear of the female and it’s a bit more than fun and our girls have witnessed these moments.  It is now that this brings us to the next discussions about sex and procreation.  We shared age appropriately how a baby can be made.  After sharing what they witnessed and also letting them know humans do this too, they both seemed satisfied with the scientific details of the how since they had just witnessed two dogs trying the act.

Like other discussions in our home and our comfort of allowing questions of any kind, I think we are headed on the right path of knowledge for both our girls.  Giving them the info that will help them better understand themselves and what happens as they grow up.  The birds and bees are a part of our lives and not going away even if we shy away from these discussions.  I really don’t want our girls to learn this from their friends.  I am happy both my husband and I have the same belief about this.  After all he is surrounded by girls and it will be in his face whether he wants it to be or not.  This is the man early on in our relationship had to run to the store for me to get me tampons.  So you see he gets it on some level!

What do you share with your children about the birds and bees?

My word for 2015

em·brace as defined by Google
əmˈbrās/
verb
  1. hold (someone) closely in one’s arms, especially as a sign of affection.
    “Aunt Sophie embraced her warmly”
    synonyms: hug, take/hold in one’s arms, hold, cuddle, clasp to one’s bosom,clasp, squeeze, clutch; More

  2. accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically.
    “besides traditional methods, artists are embracing new technology”
    synonyms: welcome, welcome with open arms, accept, take up, take to one’s heart, adopt; More

    I’ve never chosen a word to define how I would approach my New Year before.  I’ve always picked on a few resolutions that I thought I could maintain throughout the year but they usually fall to the wayside soon after or at least by mid-year.

    So this year at the beginning of 2015 I have chosen “Embrace” as defined above.

    For me I will start this year with an embrace to change both physical and psychological parts of me.  And by change I mean to handle differently.  I will work on embracing my body and health as they are, I am 51 and with that things are different then I was when I was 31.  In embracing who I am I will also embrace new ways to take care of myself both in eating habits and getting off the couch.

    I want to embrace ALL the relationships in my life with my husband, my girls and other family and friends.  Sometimes these relationships are taken for granted and I want to look through and keep the healthy happy relationships.  I want to both physically embrace these people in my life as well as support who they are in my life.

    From a parenting perspective I want to embrace the milestones and changes that each of our girls are experiencing.  Embrace their new selves and work with embracing who they are becoming.  I need to embrace these changes and challenge myself to change my parenting style to fit who they are becoming.

    I want to embrace our lives together in both a BIG HUG and support who we all are.

    I think this is a good challenge for me in these pivotal years of my girls as preadolescent and me as I make my ways through menopause.

    a new year quote

    I will check in on myself here from time to time to see how in line to my word of the year I am. I do after all have 365 days to embrace my word!

    Have you chosen a word for yourself for 2015?  Please share if you have.