Community is what you make it

It’s been a little over a year since we moved into our new home.  The leap of faith we took to change homes, neighborhoods and schools has been a good thing for us.

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That was most evident for me when I had an injury accident that kept me off my feet for 3 weeks back in March.  We were not in our house more than 8 months and our neighbors/friends jumped in to help.  Help that was much appreciated and much-needed.  How did they help? They helped get our kids from school, they helped if I needed an errand when my husband was at work.  They checked in on me home alone laid up trying to heal.  It was their automatic offer of help that made me feel so good.  I didn’t have to ask they offered and that to me sealed my feelings of the community we fell into when we bought the home we currently live in.  The friends we were making were true friends and I know we would be able to reciprocate whenever needed for them as well.

Our girls transitioned better than we could have ever hoped.  How did that happen after their sharing that they were upset to leave the only home they ever knew?  It was finding out there are children in our new neighborhood their age that attend the school they would be attending.  We moved in July which was part of my plan to be settled before the new school year would start. On the day we were moving in three girls dressed up as princesses ages 7 and 5 were all we needed to know that this was going to be good!  The friendships have only blossomed from there both for our girls and for us.

Our new community extends to the school community as well.  Me being nervous believe it or not as the new mom to a community at a new school.  I found the parents very open and helpful making my transition easier than I had expected.  Of course now I’m fully ALL the way in too LOL!  And our girls found new friends to help them put roots into their school community as well.  We joined girl scout troops, they play soccer in the local area league and now we live closer to their ballet school and some of the other activities they were already involved in.

It was a leap of faith moving ourselves but it was a leap that has paid us back over and over again.  It has only been a year and 4 months but I cannot believe our fortune in finding ourselves within this new community and the friends we have made that feel like we’ve known each other for much longer than we have.  For that I am thankful!

There are many other bloggers participating in BlogHer’s National Blog Posting Month! Click here #NaBloPoMo to read more, Enjoy!

I am no longer a #Newbie at #BlogHer14!

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It’s taken me a couple of days to decompress from the BlogHer14 conference weekend and to reenter my life!

This was my first ever blogging conference and saying I was a newbie is an understatement!

There was another reason why I was excited to be attending this conference.  This reason being I was going to meet one of my online friends in person!  Yes it’s true I have a community of friends who live in my computer from all over the place and on this occasion we were going to meet! Thrilling!

I was part of approximately 2500+ other bloggers, making me feel part impostor.  Although I have been blogging in journal fashion since early 2008 it was not until 2013 I jumped into the more public arena when I decided to add another blog.  While I’ve kept my family blog private I’ve now added a public voice to the adoption community from our family’s point of view with the added aspect of my being an “older” mom.

I have quite a lot of takeaways from this event and the ONE that sticks in my head at the highest level came out of the Blogging Fundamentals session from day one:

Defining Community

Within this community finding other people with similar experiences sharing challenges and joys. A community online includes readers, followers and commenters.  This really hit home for me as I believe this blog of mine has created a community a community of families and people just like me and my family.

I found this conference to be awe-inspiring in how many bloggers attended who write about so many topics from so many perspectives.  I was empowered at this conference from the #selfiebration tag celebrating ourselves, to the band “The Mrs.”  sharing their first song “I’m Enough” which is to become an anthem in my home for myself and my young daughters!

There was so much to do while there from the Expo, sessions, sitting in on the many different keynotes including but not limited to THE KERRY WASHINGTON of SCANDAL!!  Another highlight for me was attending the celebration for the bloggers selected as the Voices Of the Year! This is something I aspire to someday, being able to share something I’ve written out loud to share the experience with others.  The event was rounded out with the closing party starring Rev Run of DMC and this 50-something mom was out there dancing the night away and having fun!

Being a newbie can make you feel invisible with so many well-known bloggers in the group.  There was the newbie breakfast that connected me to others new to the community like myself.  And still yet there were others, veteran bloggers, open to getting to meet and know someone new on some level.  I had some reservations for myself knowing only one other person when planning to attend. What happened for me was amazing.  I met others like me newbie to this world of blogging and we found a way to connect.  In addition to meeting other newbies, I found myself in a group of women who fast became my friends and I to them.  How this happened was a simple introduction from the one person I knew here and before I knew it I was surrounded by this group of women and our friendship blossomed and our “tribe” ~  CherylPhyllisDanielleMelissa,  KimberlySamantha!

Not only do I have a community that I’m continuing to build online with my voice that I share, I have joined a community of bloggers.  This community was real and I also take away with me the things I learned that will continue to inspire me as I share with all of you.

Luckily I was local and could drive myself down to the conference.  This being a BIG asset when I had to pack my car with the SWAG lots of it!  So not only is my head full but so were my bags! I look forward to sharing another BlogHer conference with the AWESOME bloggers that live  in my computer in the not too distant future!

Adoption is closer than you think …

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As we continue to settle into our new neighborhood and school, I am finding that our family is not quite as unique as I thought we may have been.

You see there are more people/families tied to some form of adoption than I realized. Why do I say this? When I introduce the topic of how our family was formed I may hear from another parent “oh my sister was adopted” or “I had a child and placed them for adoption when I was a teenager” or still “my oldest daughter has a relationship with her birthfather even though my husband is the father that is raising her”. Not only have these people shared this but in our conversation I learn about the relationships that have developed in their adoption story which I find so awesome and something our girls can learn from these adults in our lives.

When this happens, I relax and realize we are not such a different family after all in this world we live in. I have always thought I needed to create a separate community for my family of like-families reaching out to friends we met along the way on our journey to parenthood through adoption. I felt that I needed to provide our girls with peers with families like theirs and for my husband and I a place to talk about our family without having to always explain the whole story. We still have that but at the same time in our everyday lives I am learning that adoption is closer to us in the circle of friends we now live among.

When I learn something about a person in our lives I do share with our girls, and in turn to them it’s like okay Mom thanks. I think somewhere in their minds it is registered but at the same time it’s no big deal to them. Adoption in our house is our normal. We have family through both our girls families on both their birthmother and birthfather sides. They have siblings that they know and talk about and for us this is our family and it’s never been any different and at the same time I am learning our normal is normal in other families too.

OAR #43 Talking with Family Members about Open Adoption

Open Adoption Blogger hosts The Open Adoption Roundtable.  Which is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It’s designed to be a showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community.

How did you talk to your extended family about open adoption prior to adopting/placing? How did they respond? For those with non-receptive family members, were you able to have more successful discussions with them post-adoption?

While we were beginning our journey on the path of adoption to family, we started talking to our own families of what we were hoping to do.  That being continuing a relationship with our future child/children’s family as part of our family.

Becoming grandparents was one thing, but sharing and have many different sets of grandparents might have been another thing.  We shared some of the literature that had been recommended to us.  We sent it ahead prior to a trip giving them some time to read and have questions for us during our visit.

Both of our parents knew families that had adopted and these children now adults did not have any connection to their birth families.  And so we were needing to share with our own families as we embarked on our path to parenthood what this would be like from what we were learning and the families we were meeting along the way.  Our parents supported our decision but like us they were learning as we went.

For us seeing other families and becoming part of a community of families built through open adoption helped us to ‘get it’ and what it would mean for our future children.

When our first daughter was born, like us C had some education through her pregnancy of what an open adoption would be and we all had a similar vision of what we wanted after the baby was born.  It was her parents and family that we had to share what this open adoption relationship would be like and how they would be grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc.  Early on I think they weren’t too sure if we would follow through (they never said) but we were from CA they lived in MN and had only met us the week the baby was born.   So it was through our actions early on and our continued family interactions now that our realtionship developed into the family relationship it is today.

When our second daughter was born S had already met our other daughter and knew from us what our relationship with C was.  She too along with us had a similar vision of what we wanted after the baby was born.  We shared with her dad and grandmother that they would be the grandparent and great grandparent of S’s baby girl but also for our first daughter.  They knew this was the right way for them to extend their family too!

My mom told me in the last year or two how she now really understands why we reached out for the relationships we have with each of our daughter’s birth families.  During her visits with us she has met some of their birth family and could see our girls’ interactions with them.  She knows that we are all family and that for our girls there is never too much love for them.

We were lucky in that no one was dead against wanting us to adopt and for us to  have continued relationships with our child/children’s birth family in an open adoption.  I think some of their  early skepticism was based on what they may have read or heard or seen on television.  Like us not knowing any other families who were living in open adoptions made it hard to realize at first.

Our girls are now 6-1/2 and 4-1/2 years old.  We know how blessed we are to have had our families expand so seamlessly.  Along with how we have become family we are witnessing our girls develop independent relationships with their birth families and that makes us truly very happy for all of us!

You can read others responses to this writing prompt at Open Adoption Bloggers.