The top photo is my dad, front row and center in his overalls and his brothers. He also had several sisters! He was raised in a large family. His mom gave birth to 13 children and raised 11 of them. Her husband, my grandpa, is in the bottom photo sitting in the chair with the guitar. He died of a massive heart attack when my dad was only 7 leaving my grandma with this house full of children in southern MO in a tiny town. She raised a huge garden every year, mended clothes for people and did their laundry. She sometimes worked at a little diner as a waitress. She is truly one of my life's biggest heroes. I have stories from the past of my mom's family I could share as well.
What about our kid's roots? I know next to nothing about my kids birth families. We have no photos. We have not been able to get any photos when I asked. The birth family was not even willing to donate when I asked the CASA years ago. Another piece that is missing. I think this is one of the many reasons so many kids like to find their birth families when they grow up. They need to know their roots. I don't blame them. They have to be prepared for finding a family ravaged by drugs and alcohol for many years. Their physical condition cannot be good. But I still don't blame them and I'll help them find them if that is what they truly want. Our roots are important. Mine are important to me.
I post these thoughts now because of the holiday season coming up. We get together with family and talk about past holidays, distant relatives and good memories. We laugh, we mourn and we support one another. I love these family times. My husband and I both come from fairly large families that are very closely knit. I love that. Imagine coming into this family situation and not being a part of this past. I would think this would be a real time of "not fitting in" for our kiddos. Our kids have been with us 10 years and this is no longer an issue. They are a part of the past memories, have met many distant relatives and have mourned along side us as we have said good bye to some. It would be great during family times to intentionally bring up some family times when your kids WERE there. Laugh about things that have happened since they came. Explain to them who the people are they are talking about. Say things like "He would have loved having you in the family." We need to work toward giving them that feeling of familiarity at these family events that many of us cherish.
I also know not everyone comes from the Norman Rockwell family. For those of you who are estranged from your families work toward building some wonderful family rituals with the family you have now. Build memories you will talk about for years. It is a new beginning.