Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Open Adoption Roundtable #35: Grandparents

Open Adoption Roundtable #35:

"...we're going to look in the other generational direction: grandparents. While the legal processes of placing and adopting focus on the triad of first parents-child-adoptive parents, the reality is that adoption involves extended family, too. So this time we're offering up a nice, broad prompt to reflect on the influence of, relationships with, and experiences of grandparents in our open adoptions (whichever grandparents you choose)."

 Wow. That's REALLY an open ended prompt now isn't it?

And I guess for me, it's about three different families, and about fifteen sets of grandparents. Because I'm from a 'nuclear' family myself.

I have 4 grandmothers. Yes, 4. Two biological, and two step. I don't call any of them 'step' grammas. They are each and everyone- just my gramma.

 I occasionally call my mothers mother by her first name, or even by her intials. My mothers step mom was the first grandparent to talk to me (and one of my teenage friends) about safe sex, and using condoms (which freaked my friend Jen out beyond words).

My bio fathers mother shares a name with my newest- Monster. My other dads mother has never, not once, made me feel like an outsider to her family. From the day my mom and dad got married, I have always, ever, been her grandchild.

I have always just been their granddaughter. Blood doesn't change that.

I can't think of any thing that would change it.

When I started dating my husband, and decided that it was quite serious; I told my family that I was happy. They were happy for me. They are also like quicksand. The first time my grandmother saw Bugs, he was 3 years old, and the first thing my gramma said is "He looks just like her." It was settled then for her.

I had a child, and to them (my family) it meant that my mother had a grandson. My father had a grandson. My aunts and uncles had a(nother) nephew. My grandparents became Great (they were always great in my mind) Grand parents. They never questioned it. We never looked back. We just sucked them in, and aren't letting them out again.

But for Bugs, it meant something more. He didn't "lose" his birth grandparents. How could he? They're family too? They will never stop loving him, they will never stop being a part of him, or of his life. For him, it meant going from having 2 sets of grandparents to having about twenty sets (honestly, my family is effing HUGE). For him, it was no big deal. In fact, he doesn't remember NOT having all of them as grandparents.

 For my husband's family, well, it was a big, big deal. When Bugs was born, my husbands' mother was the only 'gramma' (C's mother was 'nana). And suddenly, there were six (my mother and step mom included) NEW "Gramma's". New grammas that I insisted were to be treated the same as any other member of the family.

For the first few years, my mother in law hated being added to the 'one of many' list. She never wanted to be less than the most "important" gramma/ the only "gramma". So, I know it took her several years to understand that my family makes zero differentiation between chosen relationships and blood relationships- and that neither gets preferential treatment. She's adjusted her own world views admirably to encompass more than just 'blood'.

As for C's family, it was scary for them I have no doubts about that. They didn't know C had signed the adoption papers for almost four years after it had been done. C'd been afraid of their reaction. So, she decided not to tell them. She wanted to let them see that nothing was changing, and that they were still his family before telling them about the legal change in their relationship status.

When they found out, they were shocked. And hurt. And angry. And scared. But maybe there was a glimmer of hope- because we'd shown them that we had zero interest in letting them out of the family.

So, it C's family took some time. Now that they know they will never lose their place in our lives, they've opened their hearts to us as well. Being 'nana and grampa J' to our daughters- not just our son. I know that it can be hard, but they never need to worry about being family. Nothing changes family.

Blood might actually run thicker than water- but nothing runs as thick as love (I picture the "tar sands" and bones peeking out).

To me, family isn't blood. Family is love. I always hear, "You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your family!"

Well, I do. Get too close and I'll suck you right in. I have friends I consider my family. Having an open heart- and an open adoption- has made me a much better person than I ever hoped I'd be.


  1. I think the ridiculously open ended prompts get some of the most interesting responses. :)

    Thanks so much for participating!

  2. Thanks so much for having a place for all of us to share our points of view, where we can see and perhaps appreciate better what the other side goes through.


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