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.

Yes this is why

open-adoptions-ahead-300x3002

I had mentioned in a previous post that our youngest was struggling in figuring out her place in our family, well in all our family.  Her questions that she is asking tells us she’s trying to figure her whole story out.  We have taken her to meet a therapist versed in adoption and who works with young children. I got to sit in on this first appointment and could see my little making a connection with this therapist who I myself liked from our phone consult.  So we will proceed with another appointment to help our daughter out.

In the meantime, yesterday we got together with her birth mom, S, and her son to help celebrate her birthday.  During lunch our daughter started a conversation with S asking her in depth questions of why she is a parent to her son but not to her and why did she make the choices she did when she was born.

My husband and I are proud of her taking these steps to ask all of us involved to help her figure out what she is struggling with.  We had not known that she would be so direct with S so we had not prepped her what was coming.  She did look for reassurance to answer and we only shared make it age appropriate.  S did a great job being open and honest with our daughter (and by our I mean hers and ours).

I think our little still has to process these answers as she is only 6.  My hope is the upcoming appointments with the therapist she recently met with and having all of the adults in her life being open to these conversations that she will find the answers she seeks.

And this my friends, is why we pursued open adoptions with each of our daughters birth families.  Not only to have family relationships with them, but to have them available for the children we share to ask and answer the hard questions when they come.

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?

a look back at pictures

Our girls LOVE to hear about things they did as babies and toddlers!  They laugh and giggle when they hear about something they said and did back then. All of their 8 and 6 years have been captured with digital cameras.

Their first year and our story of how we became a family is in a book for each them to read and look at time and time again.

girls story books

Last night both girls got their books out.  We sat around and looked through them together.  Each book starts off the same with a bit about me and my husband and our life together and why we wanted to be a Mommy & Daddy.

The books go on to illustrate each of our meetings in the beginning of our family’s story with their birth mothers while they were not yet born.  We have pictures of each woman pregnant with them.

The books go on in pictures with captions to follow their first year including the day we went to family court and legally became a family.  At the time I made these books I also made copies for their birth mothers to have as well.

Our girls keep these in their room and from time to time I will find it in their bed as they’ve looked through it on their own time.  And like last night we will all sit together and talk about our family and laugh at their babyisms!

Pictures really tell us a story, and put together in these books it tells their stories.