When Birth Family becomes Our Family

I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to begin this story, as there are many facets to it. So let’s meet my family. There is myself and my husband along with our 5 boys, whom all happen to be adopted. Our oldest son is 16, followed by 14, 11, and two ten year olds. We have adopted 2 sets of siblings through Arizona foster care. Our intention was only to foster, with the possibility of adoption, only if it presented itself. As fate would have it, none of our children were reunified with their biological families. However, we have made the conscious effort to make the biological family part of our family. Not us and them, but all of us together.

The first two boys we adopted moved in just shy of five years ago. We insured that we transported them to every visit so that we could support them but also engage their mother as their fathers were not in the picture. When we first met their mom, you could see that she was struggling with her situation, her addiction and her sobriety. But beyond all of that, you could see her love for the boys. Regardless of what was going on in her life, the love she showed for the boys persisted. At the point the case plan changed to severance, my husband and I had had many conversations on how to continue the kids’ relationships with their mother. We knew that we wanted her to be a part of their lives. She had a lifetime of experiences to offer them and a mother’s love.

After severance happened their birth grandmother asked if we would be willing to meet with her and their mother to discuss our future relationship together.  We obliged, though we were extremely nervous as we had no clue what to expect. To keep a long story short, we found ourselves sitting at the table with two people who loved the boys just as much as we did. The rest is kind of history. We started trying to include them in holidays, weekends, and other events. We’ve been to their grandmother’s house in Texas. Both of them have accepted the other 3 boys as part of their family as well. The day we invited their mother to be part of our family is the day those two boys truly became our children. They relaxed, they seemed comfortable and at ease.

It has not been the easiest journey. We have struggled with setting expectations and not wanting to step on toes. Sometimes if I have to set a boundary, or cannot meet up with the mother when she wants, I fear being the reason she may relapse. Through it all she has persevered. She has been clean for nearly 4 years. She has made remarkable progress. It is amazing to see her relationship with the boys grow. Initially when they saw her we struggled with behaviors afterwards, over time we have seen those behaviors decrease as they become more comfortable with their new reality and are able to make sense of their emotions.

We are working on the same type of relationship with the family of our other three children, however it is only in the beginning stages. As we move forward with our family we look forward to helping our children build positive strengths-based relationships with those members of their biological family.

Ricky Denwood

Adoptive Father

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