With Little-Flower’s birthday here and gone I am left again this year reflecting about the relationship we have with her extended birth family. By now, I should know to expect the tremendous amount of love that they extend to us, but I am always slightly taken off guard by it.
The relationship with the extended birth family is not one that is discussed when pursuing adoption. When one thinks of adoption there is an acute awareness of the loss that the birth parents go through, but they are not the only ones left grieving. These two children I have are also the grandchildren and nephew and niece of people outside of our immediate family. There is an extended family that is left feeling the loss as well.
I never really knew what to expect of the relationship between our family and that of the extended birth families. Given that we entered into adoption with the mindset of exchanging pictures and letters, but no ongoing relationship with the birth parents, the thought of working out a relationship with birth aunts, uncles and grandparents never crossed my mind.
In some ways having no expectation of a relationship with the extended family is a blessing. Every ounce of love that is extended is an unexpected burst of joy. To see the acceptance and affection that they shower our family with is amazing to me.
With having no expectations for the relationship, the gratitude that they express to us always throws me off. I feel so fortunate to have the privilege of parenting Turkey-Man and Little-Flower. As I have said before, I struggle with varying degrees of guilt in knowing that many people had to be left grieving in order for me to experience the joy I have each day. So, when the people who were left grieving express thanks to us for raising their child I am left almost speechless.
In so many ways I feel incredibly blessed to be a mother at all. I feel so appreciative for the decision that their birth parents made that it seems so completely backwards for them to turn and thank us.They gave hubby and I a gift that we could not give each other. I can never express enough thanks to be able to parent these children.
The love that each of these families show us always amazes me. Here are grieving families that could be unsupportive or resentful, but instead often remark how happy they are for how it all worked out. We know we are so very lucky to have them in our lives.
Adoption brings about many things about that are difficult to fathom when one starts out on this journey. I wish I could write a “How-To” guide about managing these relationships, or at the very least a “What to Expect” handbook. The best I can do is leave you with an example of how beautiful it could look.
We have two adopted children that could be left wondering about their heritage and the decisions that led to their adoption. Instead we not only have many of the answers to the missing pieces so common in the adoption world, we have children surrounded in more unconditional love than most kids could dream of. There are not words in the English language to explain the depth of gratitude for the life we get to live today!