Adoptive family life has been on my mind a lot lately. This is sort of an ebb and flow of my life. Sometimes life is just life. It is pretty much the kind of child rearing, crazy living, day to day existence that is fairly typical of my other friends who have kids of similar ages and/or interests.
Then there are the differences in our life that are the result of raising children with a disability. Kids who will never be able to live independently require a different mind set. I spent years grieving when I came to grips with the fact that Chet would grow into manhood with a laundry list of experiences and responsibilities that would never be possible for him.This is also true for Fiona. But I am emotionally in a different place now. I am comfortable with my role being parent/guardian for the long term. With planning safe futures for them when I am gone. With realizing that there is an aspect of "Peter Pan" in raising differently abled children. I have learned to enjoy the fact that there is still a wonder and youthfulness as a part of their personalities and i embrace that. I remember that when their personalities show the difficult todldler-esque tantrum in a full grown body. These differences too can be shared with some friends. Not too many geographically close to me, but the joy of the Internet means I have friends all over. Folks who get it. Folks who have walked harder roads, and who inspire me.
There are also the differences that are unique to the world of adoption. Raising my children means honoring and including as much as is possible, all the people who are part of their lives. Their first families, their extended families--they are not "their" family. They are "our:" family. I genuinely like and respect them. Certainly some make unwise choices. But family is not perfect. My own biological family is far from perfect; I don't expect that from others. That does not mean I will put my children in unsafe situations, but it does mean that I don't have unrealistic expectations of what people's lives could/should look like. I think this also shows my kids that I mean what I say when I affirm that I love them even when they make a mistake.
I have read some interesting posts about adoption "triads" lately and honestly it wasn't even a word in my vocabulary till reading about it. For me, adoption has been about making the circle of family larger and I envision our children in the center. Safe. Loved. With everyone radiating the same distance from the center.