As we finalized our adoptions this week I had to take some time to think about what family is. In Lilo and Stich they talk about “Ohana”- Family is forever. *Now* I can say that about my family- family is forever!
But, what I’m talking about today is what makes someone your family? I had some of our family who were not able to attend the adoptions for various reasons, and some that chose not to be there for other reasons, and 2 days before the adoptions I was feeling a little sorry for myself (I’m embarrassed to admit). I was talking to another friend of mine about how frustrated and disappointed I was that it wasn’t a big enough deal to people I thought were important to be there to come. I know people have other obligations, it just didn’t seem like it was a priority to some, and a couple in particular. I don’t know if it’s because we’ve had to babies for almost 2 years, so it didn’t seem like a big deal to them or what. I tried not to let it hurt me, but it did. I know the intention was not for it to be hurtful. So, anyway, I was talking to my friend about it and she said something very profound that I want to share with you:
“I'm sorry Semalee :( I know it's hard, but now that your family isn't "traditional", that means your extended family isn't either. And so those that will be there with you are your family. You know, since you've chosen adoption, that blood doesn't mean much!”
It really put things into focus for me. And, as I really pondered I realized my family has really never been “traditional”. I was adopted by my step-dad when I was about William’s age, my older sister is not a blood sister (adopted by heart into our family when she was 16), and, I definitely do not feel more love for my own sisters than my sisters-in-law anymore- we’ve been sisters for 15 years! And, if you want to really be honest, over the last 15 years my mother-in-law has been more of a mother to me than my biological mother has. My friend Michelle, with whom I’ve been friends with since High School (going on way too many years to post here now without making myself feel really old) is like a sister to me, and my kids call her Aunt and Her kids call me Aunt. And, I have a dear friend at church who has decided to take on the role of Great Aunt to my children because she loves them so much.
I have a lot of friends, who I see fairly regularly and everything, but I do have a core of people that are more than that. And, just like with any extended family, I’m closer to other sisters and brothers than others. I know from my perspective, I do anything at all for Jeremy and his family, for example, and they would for us as well… My friend Gwenn and I have walked together through the death of our niece, and the deaths of her mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law together, and she has been literally *right* by our side during this whole foster-adopt process. She loves my kids as much as I do, and is now getting licensed for foster care too! No, these people are not *just* my friends……
The people who were in the courtroom with us make it so special to us. To know that those people were so supportive of our “Non-Traditional Family” really meant a lot.
We are family in the eyes of the state and the world now. And, as I told Shea’s other foster family, THEY are our extended family forever now too.
No, family doesn’t mean blood. It’s means being there for each other. And, we’ve got a whole slew of family!