Well of course I have a family, we all do! Every family may look different, but they all started out the same. Each one has a biological mother and biological father, grandparents, and great grandparents, some have siblings, and cousins, aunts and uncles. This is the way biology works, we each have an ancestry, that is our family.
My family consists of many members. I have a mother, and she has a mother. I had a father, who I lost six years ago, and he had parents too. My father was the baby of eight, and my mother is one of four. My parents had two children, myself and my brother. They divorced, and remarried, so I then had a step-father and step-mother. Both couples had more children, my mother had eight, my father had one, and so my family grew, a lot.
By the time I was 19 I had started my own family. I had my first child, my second, and before my 25 birthday my family had grown and I had given birth to five children. Here is where my family became different, and my children went to live in new families, temporary ones.
At this point in my life I became very distant from my original family and my own. I could not handle the damage I had done to mine and in turn took it out on the ones I loved. Not directly, but by not being present, my family spent countless hours worrying about me, getting the random phone call at 3am, from me saying I'm stranded somewhere, severely intoxicated. There was a few times my mother, who worked nights, driving, came to my rescue, just to have me disappear again, when I had found someplace else to go.
I hurt my family, all of them, not to mention the heart ache they felt over the loss of my children. This devastated them, and eventually, one by one, they no longer wanted to be my family, and instead of their phone calls, I received their prayers. Prayers, that some day, I would be well again, and come back to the family.
During my time estranged from my family, my children, were struggling to find a family that fit. My boys stayed securely with their grandmother, but the girls were bouncing from one foster family to another. This damaged their views on family as well as destroyed their trust in anyone that called themselves "Their Family". Finally, both of my girls nestled in to their own forever families, and the challenges of learning to have a family again began.
Fortunately, my family's prayers for "someday" did come, but it came because, my family was going to grow again. My pregnancy for Tyler saved my life, and in turn, saved my relationship with my family, sort-of. Of course the damage that had been done already, was hard to forget, and my family and I just don't share the same bond we had before. They love me for who I am, and I love them, but there are often times when I feel I just don't fit in.
After meeting my daughter Ashley's adoptive mother, Rebecca, I started believing the word family can mean many things. Family isn't just the one you were born into, but rather the one that has chosen you. I've also found that sometimes, this family might even be a better fit than your bio-family.
I recently had the honor of attending a Seder dinner at Rebecca's house. This was a big event for me, not only was it my first Seder, but there was going to be other friends and family there. I was a little nervous about being the "birth mom" at the party. I happy to say, once I was there, that thought never crossed my mind. I wasn't the "birth mom" but rather, just a family member! I was welcomed by everyone there, and when Rebecca shared the nature of our relationship, everyone at the table just smiled and acted as though this were perfectly normal. At that moment I realized this is normal, it is normal for our family, my family, the one I share with Rebecca, her husband, her daughter, my boys, and our daughter, Ashley. We are no different then the family next door, except, perhaps, we've chosen to be family, we've designed it ourselves, without knowing what the final outcome might look like, but to us, it's perfectly beautiful.
I couldn't have planned it better, and I'm happy to say, finally...........
I have a family.