"So, you said you have a large family," she said, nodding towards me. "How many of them will be accepting of children that you plan to adopt?"
I didn't understand the question, at first.
"Right, accepting," she said. "Like, will they be included with other kids in the family by many people, or will that be hard?"I was floored. Of all the intensely-personal, did-you-really-just-go-there kind of questions we had gone through, I had not expected that.
"All of my family, and Dave's, will be accepting of our kids. Why wouldn't they be??" I said.
"ALL of your family?" she replied, somewhat incredulous.
"Yes, all," I said, somewhat indignantly, and repeated my question. "Why wouldn't they be?"
"Well, what if they're of a different race," she tentatively asked.
"I don't understand what difference that would make," I replied.Then she said something that surprised, and saddened me.
"If all that's really true," she said, "then you have a very unusual family."
And sadly, we've had several similar conversations with social workers since then.
This past weekend, we got a chance to not only celebrate my little brother's wedding, but we also got to see lots and lots of family, some of whom had never met Isaac, and many of whom had not yet met Andy.
Andy very clearly wasn't sure what to do with himself at first. Despite our previous conversations, and even all of his experiences with extended family so far, this was still a lot of people, and he wasn't sure how he would feel about it.
First, he met my Uncles Duane and Ed, along with their wives, and within minutes, Andy and Isaac were giggling uncontrollably - and it just kept getting better.
All weekend long, my kids were showered with love from all of our family members. They loved being surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, Gramps, Grams (my parents), great-grandmas. I can never remember what my cousins are to them (first cousins once removed? Second cousins?), and I guess the aunts and uncles (with the exception of my brother and Katie) were great uncles and aunts (in both senses of the word!). But the point is, it never mattered. Family is family.
What has truly touched my heart is the way Andy still talks about it. The boys both loved all the people from this weekend, but Andy sometimes has a hard time letting go of the fear of rejection, and really joining in mentally. But I could tell he really felt the love this weekend, because he doesn't talk about "Mom's family" anymore. Instead, he rehashes stories from this weekend with possessive pronouns.
"Remember this weekend, Mom?" he'll say. "Remember when my Uncle Duane flipped me over and did the torpedo? That was awesome."
He doesn't call my cousins "Mom's cousin's anymore, either. "Remember, Mom? Remember when my cousin Michael put on glasses so that he and Isaac and I would all have glasses? Did you get a picture? Did you, Mom?"
"And Mom, I want to see the picture of me and GG" (formerly known as Mom's Grams).
I wish all families were as great as ours. Later this summer, we will be spending more time with Dave's side of the family, and I anticipate their reactions to our kids to be much the same, and every bit as loving.
I'm sad that our family and friends are so very strange, but I am indescribably thankful for our "unusual" family.