Birth Sibs

November 5th, 2013

My mom and I made the 4 hour trek to take Pepper to see her birth siblings. (Technically they are half-siblings. I don't think it matters to them or us!)  Our last visit several years ago was a little tricky because both Pepper and her sister were in a difficult time in their lives. It just wasn't the family reunion my daughter hoped for. I think it was also very hard for her seeing the challenging life her sister had.  It was a couple years ago and it was a "getting to know you" visit. This visit, however was different. One thing that made a huge difference was that in the time since that meeting, we'd all three corresponded on Facebook and we'd occasionally heard from the youngest brother too.  (Pepper… [more]

Will They Bond

August 30th, 2013

heartSometimes kids are excited to get a new brother or sister and sometimes they are not.  For us, our son was so excited about having a new sister.  When you have biological children you know you kids will have a lot in common.  They may share the same eye color, same hair color, and share same personality quirks.  Not only will they be bonded by how they look, but they are bonded by genetics.  Naturally I was worried if my children would be close or have an emotional bond because my children would not share their looks or genetic background.  My brother and I share the same smile and have the same knees. My children will not grow up sharing those… [more]

Birth Family Quandry

July 8th, 2013

DSCN5456 I'm in a dilemma -- again -- about birth-parent interaction. Just when I thought I had settled it for myself, well I hadn't. The other day I casually mentioned to Sunshine that I am planning a get-together with the Littles' Birthmother. Sunshine couldn't believe it. "What are you thinking Mom? It's just going to upset and confuse them. I don' think that is a good idea at all." Now in truth, I hadn't asked for her opinion, but I am considering it.  She is worried about them getting their hearts broken and about them being confused. These are certainly reasonable concerns. On the other hand, I'm worried about denying them this connection to their past and the information that comes with it… [more]

Birth Family Contact

February 13th, 2013

DSCN5456In the fall I sat on an adoption panel with the birth-mother of a 21 year old.  Having the opportunity to talk with her and hear what she shared with the panel reminded me that I cannot give up in my efforts with the birth families of our children.  She reminded us that whether we are hearing from those birth parents or not, they have never, ever forgotten about their children and that is what we need to communicate to our kids. Birth family relationships in foster-adopt are complicated.  I know there are many former foster kids who  cannot have contact with any part of their birth families. In our case, their birth-mother was not the person who harmed them although it… [more]

Birth Parents

November 24th, 2012

heydiddle-graphicsfairy005bRecently I had the opportunity to sit on a panel for an Adoption Knowledge Affiliates conference.  AKA is a little different than many adoption support groups because it supports all three parts of the adoption triad, birth parent, adoptive parent and adopted person.  The audience for our panel was about half adoption professionals, and the rest of the group pretty evenly split among the triad parts.  It was a truly interesting experience. One member of our panel was a birth mother.  I truly enjoyed meeting her as she reminded me to remind my kids that their birth mothers have not forgotten about them.  Just because they are not hearing from their birth mother, they should not read into that.  I think I do… [more]

Sisters Reunited

October 30th, 2012

DSCN5439In this column, I typically write about our sibling group of three youngsters.  Today, however, I'm going to speak a little about Pepper, our oldest. When Pepper was born,  her birthmother made an adoption plan for her as she could not parent her due to medical issues.  At that time, her mother was raising 5 kids; the 4 oldest were boys and the youngest, a girl, was 6.  The kids all knew about Pepper's birth and knew and understood the reasons she was adopted by our family.  Nonetheless, the children never met as their mother was really struggling with her grief. Through the years we sent letters, cards and pictures which were posted in the family home and shared with the maternal grandparents.  In… [more]

Siblings vs Siblings

December 6th, 2011

fab fiveWhen our older girls were pre-schoolers, people often asked us, "Are they sisters?"  Even though I knew they meant no harm, the question irked me.  "In every way that counts," I'd reply. 13 years later, they are unquestionably sisters although they are not biologically related.  People who phone the house cannot tell the two girls from me on answering!  Yet they are also teenagers, seeking to individuate and looking at their identity as members of their birth families as well as members of our family. When we adopted our three little ones, the whole nature of "sibling" changed in our house.  We brought in a sibling group of three, two of whom were strongly bonded although they were only toddlers.  We did not… [more]

Uncharted Territory

October 17th, 2011

map colonies vintage image graphicsfairy002 Someone send me a roadmap, please.  I keep finding myself in uncharted territory. When our kids are little, we can fix their boo-boos. Once they get into adolescence, they have to start fixing them for themselves.  That part is hard for me. With 5 adopted kids, you'd think I'd be an expert.  You'd be so very wrong.  The issue of adoption is a big one in adolescence.  When you get mad at them, they think it has something to do with being adopted.  One of my "bigs" is really struggling right now.  Today is her birth-half-sister's birthday.  That child is the youngest of six my daughter's birth-mother raised.  She is a late in life, post divorce, post traumatic head injury… [more]

Visit Time

September 13th, 2011

tinker 3 bdayWe have a family visit coming up this weekend.    I am not sure what this visit will look like;  I don't know if the kids' baby brother will be along this time. The oldest of the triple threat ('the Captain, age 4) does not come on the visits.  He has attachment difficulties and the therapist thinks we need to wait until he is much older, if ever.  Our 3-year-old, Tinker, does not seem to connect with her birth-mother.  Tinker is a spunky little kid, so it's hard to always know what she's thinking.  I think she recognizes her on a deep level but does not see her as a caregiver.  She was only 8 months old when removed.    The Blitz, our… [more]

Family Redefined

July 10th, 2011

DSCN3158When I was a child, if I complained about my siblings, my mother told me, "You can choose your friends, but you don't get to choose your family.  So you'd better learn to get along.  One could argue that the whole thing gets flipped on its head with adoption because you are, of course, choosing your family! There is a whole component of adoption you don't necessarily get to choose though, especially when you adopt through foster care, and that is the children's birth family.  Whether or not your children have visitation with their family of origin, regardless of whether they want visits, even if your children don't remember their original family, they are now part of your past, your present and your… [more]