“How big is grandad’s family mummy?”
“Honestly Buzz. I really don’t know anymore”
“Why? Is it because you live too far away and have forgotten them, like my t**t birth parents have forgotten me?”
“Oh Buzz, how can anyone ever forget you? No I can’t tell you how big grandad’s family is because I have simply lost track of how many there are now. Grandad has 12 brothers and sisters, most of them are married and All of them have at least 2 children, but most have 4 or 5 and that is not counting their step children. All of my aunts and uncles are at least grandparents, but in truth by Grandad’s 60th birthday he was already a Great, Great, Great, Great Uncle and has more great, great nieces and nephews than he can even remember. Grandad’s family is so big at family parties it is the standard joke that we should all be wearing conference name tags or t-shirts stating which of Grandad’s siblings we are closest related too”.
“Why didn’t Grandad’s mummy and daddy use protection so they didn’t have so many babies?”
“Buzz, that is a whole other discussion and one that will have to wait a little longer” (A lot longer – religious beliefs, merchant navy and extended absence for my grandfather. Not to mention booze and well…. Let’s just say there are things that are definitely never for either of my boys’ ears).
Anyway, I am rambling a little (okay a lot) but there is a reason I chose to start this week’s #WASO post with a brief sample of a recent conversation with Buzzbee and I think triggered by my sister once again, opening her mouth and making inappropriate and insensitive comments with the boys in earshot and refusing to acknowledge how these may make the boys feel or impact on their relationship with her (not that Bumble and I have ever seen any real sign of her really accept them as her nephews. Yes, she buys them birthday and Christmas presents, but there is never any thought put into it).
I swear she is jealous of the boys, despite having 3 biological children of her own and giving my parents their only granddaughter. There are so many reasons that my sister hasn’t really ever fully accepted the boys and most of them the boys are aware of and find it quite funny at times, especially when the eldest of my nephew will repeat a comment that he has obviously heard from my sister to Waxy and Waxy then uses it as a way to manipulate and wind his YOUNGER cousin up (Waxy is now my parents’ eldest grandchild not my nephew and NOW Waxy loves pointing this fact out with my sister in earshot, if she is being particularly frosty).
So what had my sister said that had had such an impact on Buzzbee? It wasn’t anything Bumble, my parents, or I hadn’t heard before, but up until now she had been more careful about when she voiced her opinions on the boys’ birth family, but on this day she was careless (or maybe I am the one who failed to protect my boys). Somehow the subject of wills and families had come up and my parents were ‘reassuring’ her that they had listed some item or other in their will that was always promised to my niece. My parents reminded her that they would make sure ALL of their grandchildren were bequeathed something in their wills.
“Well Waxy and Buzz won’t be expecting anything from you because they have their own family, which they will obviously inherit from when the time comes because they are their blood and the boys will have a right to any inheritance from their birth family, the same as my 3 are your blood and will inherit from you both”
How does that old saying go? “You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family”? Now the boys beg to differ on this phrase owing to our family set up, but when it comes to my sister, no matter how much I hate how she treats people and I am on the verge of being unable to find a reason to keep her in my boys’ lives. The fact remains that she IS my sister and she IS part of the boys extended family whether we want her to be or not.
Please forgive me I completely went off on a tangent from my original motivation for this ‘Extended Families’ post.
When Bumble and I started on our adoption journey we always knew that the children we welcomed into our hearts and into our family, would always have had another family before. We had a vision of how this would work and how we might support our child (children in this case) to maintain some kind of link with their birth family. Okay, we both imagined this would probably be once a year, on the same date and via a third party service (post adoption letterbox service). I can only speak for myself and say that it was never my imagination that very swiftly after the boys were placed with us, those lines of contact and communication with one particular set of birth family members would go from being a formal bi-annual family newsletter and their response, to a more direct and open relationship, which feels surprisingly natural and not just for Bumble and I. My parents have never met these people and yet they will happily chat with the boys about them and not feel even threatened by the fact the boys are open about their affection for these 2 wonderful people.
My sister is right about one thing. The boys do have another family and while most of them have completely disappeared off the radar, the ones that have stuck around I am confident that, no matter what, they will always be around and always put the boys needs above their and this is rapidly beginning to be reflected in the rapid growth in frequency of informal emails and postcard being shared in both directions. There are not just part of Beeswax and Buzzbee’s birth family. They have become part of our ever growing extended family and long may it stay this way.
Nearly there now. If you are still with me, then congratulations for surviving. While I have accepted there is very little chance my sister will ever change, she is in a minority as far as the rest of my colossal family are concerned. From the very beginning the boys were welcomed into the family as if they had always been there and while yes they have been known to say “all kids do that”, in my dad’s family they are more likely to say “oh uncle sting used to do that when he was angry, he calmed down in the end”. Like my dad, nothing really phases them, and it is probably because the members of my dad’s family consist of almost every colour of the rainbow, personality, socially, culturally, academically, behaviourally – you name it someone in my dad’s family has probably done it or been involved/experienced it at some point in their lives.