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fun with Mara’s family

April 9, 2012

I am only going to give the broadest overview here, because even that could easily get lengthy. Mara’s littlest big sister, Trinity, and the next two older kids, Franca (9) and Andre (8), were ready when I picked them up from their aunt’s apartment after I finished work Wednesday. We drove over to Lee’s school to pick Mara up, and then went home. The three kids spent just about every waking moment (and, in many cases, sleeping ones) together until I dropped them off again on Saturday afternoon. Then Sunday was Easter and I spent about six hours with Mara’s extended family.

Mara’s family is full of such fun, sweet, good people. Even her mom, who’s the most obviously troubled of all the family members I’ve met, was pleasant to talk to, open and generous. It’s a little awkward but also flattering how many of these relatives I’m meeting have thanked me for bringing Mara back, for keeping her connected. (I was the one doing the driving and supervision during much of the egg hunt time, so Lee wasn’t there for a lot of this.) One neighbor in the public housing complex where Mara’s siblings all live said that everyone knows about us because there aren’t any other adoptive families bringing kids back for visits post-adoption. I’m sure that’s not entirely true and I’m also sure that we’re more visible because I’m white and because we’re a two-mom family, but the truth is that a lot of these people have lost relatives to the foster care system if they were unable or unwilling to be relative placements for those kids and that’s a grief that doesn’t get addressed much. Apparently just seeing Mara with her siblings and her cousins (and her new cousins, since we’ve finally met two of her mom’s half-siblings from her mom’s dad’s side) affirms that it’s possible and makes it clear how much people are yearning for this kind of connection. From the adoptive family’s perspective, they may not be doing anything to make that connection happen, but that’s one of the reasons I feel like the responsibility is on me as the adoptive parent to do the work of following up, staying in touch, keeping Mara in contact with her past and her family.

Oh, did I say I was only going to talk about what happened and not overthink it? Yeah, anyway, the overthinking is mostly in the category of what we can do next, what we can do on an ongoing basis. I’d be inclined to just agree to take these three kids once a month to give their aunt a break and give them sibling time. Lee thinks that sounds like it’s too often, but then we get into my worries about whether the cousins who live with them will keep on feeling left out. In almost all these family units, there are also half-siblings, so there are already situations where one dad is present and another isn’t, one gives big gifts to make up for his absence and another doesn’t acknowledge his kids at all. Now we add to that the adoptive parents of a family member who aren’t quite sure where they belong…. It’s complicated and hard, and I don’t know how we can help. I’ll be talking to our worker during her visit this week about resources for Mara’s aunt Odelia, because there really must be more out there than she’s able to access at this point.

Anyway, Mara loves her brother and sisters and all four kids had an amazing time. Lee and I love them and had fun with them too. But while it wasn’t much work while they were around, I’m exhausted from the social whirl and some bad sleep lately. I’m ready for a break, and this week I’m going to be lucky enough to get one. Lee and I have counseling, which I’m looking forward to, and we’ll also have some time alone as a couple, which has been rarer than it should have been. We’ll meet with our social worker without Mara in the house, which will be great since we’re going to have to talk about Talia at least some. (Oh, and it sounds like Talia and Andre were school friends before Talia entered foster care, but that’s a long story and potentially not a relevant one except that I knew there’d be some connection between the families.) And I will take naps! I really really will! It will be heavenly! But so was this long weekend with family, really.

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