Monday, January 3, 2011

Family By Choice

This has been something that has been on my mind since the moment my foster parents left our house this Christmas. Its a hard subject because I feel slightly torn. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings and I know that my biological parents may very well read this and quite possibly be hurt by some of what I will write. In the very same thought, I love my foster parents so much that I feel its only right to share my love for them with you.

There is a psychological bond created between a biological child and their parents. A bond that no amount of neglect or abuse will ever break. There is a mental lock internally connecting the three as a single unit even if it is only internally. While I was never put up for adoption I have seen and read about numerous studies/cases where adopted children who have had amazing lives with their adoptive parents still felt that need to find their birth parents. Sometimes, honestly I wish that weren't the truth for me. Sometimes, I wish that it was easy to just let go and say good bye. I wish that that little part of me didn't exist. I don't believe in having or getting "closure" with you biological parents. In my mind there is not key to that lock.

This is where I say "don't get me wrong. I love my birth parents." Because I do. Its that lock I was referring to. No matter what I have endured or lacked. No matter what choices were made or were not made I have always had a place in my heart for my bp's. There has always been a piece of me that has been full of hope and longing. I have always wanted my dad and I have always wanted my mom and in a sense I do "have" them. I just don't actually "have" them as parents. I never really have. Confusing.., I know. What I do have is two people who birthed me and then let others raise me. (I am using the word "let" very loosely. My dad "let", my mom didn't have a choice.)

One great thing that I have received from my bp's are my "parents by choice".

And this is where I tell you how I grew up looking into the crowds of parents during school musical programs and sporting events looking for a glimpse of my mom or dad. I knew that I'd never see them, but I couldn't help but hope.

I remember career day, vaguely. I think that the kids got excused from one day of class to go to work with their choice of one of their parents. I was never able to use that excuse.

I used to envy those children who brought in birthday treats for the whole class. Especially those who's mothers (or fathers) baked something really cool. Like special cookies or decorated cup cakes. I was never dressed nicely, my hair was always a mess and I didn't have someone to teach me about how to be a girl or worse..., boys.

By the time I was sixteen years old I had been in over forty different placement homes. My biological father left when I was young and my biological mother has a mental illness that made it hard for her to have the capability to raise me.

Im not telling you this because I am seeking pity. If you really knew me then you would know that I am not like that. Im telling you this because I am getting to the good part of my story and I needed something to build up the suspense. No silly..., not really..., but isn't there always a storm before the rainbow? Well, in my case there was... a lot of storms, but I did get one beautiful rainbow in the end...

When I was around 11 years old I was in a placement home called Tanager Place. Back then it was a "throw all" for all sorts of children. Over all I thought it was an okay place. However, that's looking back, when I was there I couldn't get out soon enough!

Anyway, I was there for months, im not for sure how long in totality. There I met a sweet lady named Suzan who donated a piece of her free time to a young girl whom I will call "C". Suzan seemed to come once a week to visit with C and for some reason (I think it was my charm) Suzan took an interest in me. For the longest time Suzan and I did things together. Mostly, I remember Dairy Queen and crafts, at least in that stage of our relationship.

Eventually, Suzan's husband Augie started to visit with me as well and from then on they have been in my life. They followed me from one placement to the next. Teaching me how to cook and showing me the artistic values of a good sunrise.

They watched me self destruct as a child who was angry with the world and then develop into a woman who graduated college and made something of herself. My foster father walked me down the isle at my wedding (and helped me catch my breath along the way). My foster mother has talked to me for hours at a time on the phone about everything and nothing all at the same time. They have met not one but all of my children and haven't forgotten a birthday once. They have taught me about love and forgiveness as well as family and acceptance. Somewhere along the way I lost my birth parents but because of that I gained my parents by choice.

I believe that God has a plan. I hate that I don't know what his plan for me is or why he has choose for me to have the life that I have had or have now, but I know that God gave me Suzan and Augie. The parents I never had but was meant to get. (The funny thing is, when I re-read that last sentence, I couldn't help but wonder if I hadn't really always had them in the first place.- A real "there's no place like home" moment.)

This Christmas one of the greatest gifts was to be able to visit with Augie and Suzan. They were coming from Texas to get together with their biological children. They were all meeting up in a city fairly near by so they asked if they could come here too. I was so nervous that they would get sick and then we would miss another visit with them. (About a month prior Suzan was going to come but was exposed to an illness and we were too afraid of V possibly catching something, so we had to decline on seeing her that time.)

I cant tell you how good it was to have them here. I was really struggling with the depression and as odd as it may sound, I needed them here. Augie sat on the couch next to me for awhile and we all talked about random things while the girls played together. It took my mind off of the aching that I was feeling inside and for the first time that I have ever remembered I got that feeling that I have always wanted. The pride of having Augie hold and kiss my baby for the first time. The pride of watching Suzan play with my children. and the humor I felt watching Augie put the Polly Pocket toy together for Kiliegh. There was no uncomfortably for me. There was no awkward silences. No fake moments of playing nice that I often have had with my bp's. I felt as if I had known them my whole life. Funny enough..., I have known them for well over half of it!

There was something extra special about this Christmas. Maybe it was all of the hardships that we have gone through over the past two years. Maybe it was just watching my parents play with our children. Or maybe it was the realization that Jasmine is about the age I was when I first met them. What I know for sure is that this year, I watched my parents play with our children and it was wonderful.

We are not family by blood. Not even by marriage. We are family by choice and for the rest of my life I will forever be grateful that they chose me.


Leah said...

What a beautiful post. I know well that need for adoptees to find their birth parents, no matter what the circumstances were. After being raised in a family full of adoptions (both into and out of the family) and marrying an adoptee, I spent 3 years doing reunion searches for adoptees born before open records were law. I'm so glad that you had, and still have, Suzan and Augie in your life.

janis said...

Oh my Goodness! I found your Blog last night & have been catching up from your begining. I was going to wait till I get to the "present" but you have touched my heart so deep;y with this post.
It is simply beautiful♥ I get it. And I do believe you are so Blessed.