Friday, February 8, 2013

The Real Meaning of Family

I think that one of the biggest fears about adopting, is the fear that you will not love a child that does not come from your womb. Some people are afraid to voice this fear, feeling that it is shameful. But it is a natural feeling.

When I was seven years old, my parents divorced. It was not so much amicable. There were some really hard times, but thanks to hindsight, I realize that God brought the good out of "bad". From this divorce came the following: a stepmother, a stepfather, two half brothers, a stepbrother, many step aunts, step uncles, step get the picture. (I actually hate putting "step"in front of those titles, and I do not use them when referring to them, but that is the technical term.)

Although all of them are blessings, I will just focus on a few of the relationships today.

Not too long after the divorce, my dad met my stepmother. She was a few years younger than him, and they "courted" very briefly before she attained that status. You can imagine the small town rumors...right?

But I digress..."Tammy" was 28 years old. She willingly jumped into a first marriage with two very young children. My sister is 4 years younger than me. At the time, we just thought that she was cool. But it was really so much more than that.

She never treated us like anything but her own. She loved us unconditionally--and we were not easy. We were still very confused and hurt from the divorce. But I honestly never felt anything negative from her. She was completely understanding and nurturing.

 I know that everyone is not so lucky in this instance, but we were.

She took us to the pool in the summers. She made hair bows for us. She even made flip flops with bows to match our outfits. She fixed our hair like hers, and bought us the real deal Clinique lipstick when we were old enough. She contributed to our Barbie habit, and helped us pick out stylish clothes and accessories. That was all so wonderful, but the best thing that she did for us, was to love us. She was there for us, and we knew that no matter what--she was there.

Tammy was so good to us, in fact, that people constantly called her our mother. My sister and I would laugh because when someone would talk to us about our mom, we would have to let them continue and hope that they would give us a clue as to which mom they were referring to.

I got married when I was 23. Marriage is hard work. And Nick and I didn't have any children for years. And even then they were both of ours.

I cannot even imagine the things that Tammy had to deal with. But she jumped right in, and didn't look back. (At least not that we know of...)

I have two "half-brothers", but we have never even used that term. That is technically what they are, but they are my brothers. Period. I am not sure that the youngest even knew that term until recently, because we are family, and that's it. There is a large age difference, but we still have plenty of sibling rivalry. I have been accused of being the mother at times, but it is actually funny. I love it when my fourteen-year-old brother introduces me as his sister. Those are some confused looking teenagers. There is almost a 20 year age difference. I will never forget the humiliation and shock that I felt when my dad told us that we were going to have a baby brother--I was 20. But that quickly gave way to excitement and love when we saw that sweet little face.

This theme is repeated throughout my family.

I believe that this is why adoption was a little easier for me. I learned very early on in life, that family doesn't equal blood relations. It is simply people who love you--and that you love in return.

I do believe that adoption may be a harder step for someone who grew up in a "fairy tale" family.

But if God is calling you to do it, then he will give you the means to get there.

Even though it may have been easier, I still had those worries. Will I love this child? And I will tell you this. The first time that I saw my daughter, my eyes filled with tears. Joy. Awe. Amazement. Wonder. Humility... I felt all of these things.

I had no idea that I could love someone like this and the love continues to grow daily. I knew that I could love my son when he was on his way, but how would I love them both so much? Cheesy, I know-- but your heart just grows. It grows to accommodate all of your children.

My children are my life. I love them all the same. I can honestly say that the only difference between my first two children and my last, is that he satisfies the curiosity of what mine and Nick's children would look like.

And I was seriously worried that he wouldn't be as beautiful as my first two children!!! (But of course he is;))

I am so grateful for all of the people in my life who loved me by choice, and not because they had to. Because through this, they taught me the real meaning of family.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."--1 Corinthians 13:4-7


  1. I love this so much, I want to drink it up and rub my belly.
    I didn't have a traditional family, but you love who you love and whoever becomes your family just IS your family. The love the bond the whatever magical threads that bind you are THERE.
    I'll be sharing this, for sure. Right after I thank Robin O'Bryant for sending me here.

  2. Ach....what is traditional anyway? I think I know more "non traditional" than traditional families at this point! Love is love. Who cares from whom it comes? So glad you got so much love and are giving so much love now.

  3. This is absolutely beautiful. So glad Kim led me here. We have a blended family and love is love.