My definition of family is broader than the traditional. I have two half siblings and an entire step family. It isn't until I stop to explain the intricate web of my family that I am reminded that not everyone has the same diverse connections in their family. As complicated and diverse as my family is, it is also a huge blessing. As a child, I was literally surronded by people that loved me. My safety net was large, and I am the person I am today because my mother allowed me to have a myriad of relationships. This blessing has uniquely prepared me to parent the child we were given.
We spent the weekend coordinating visits with Ashley's sisters. They live in seperate homes and have seperate foster families. Somehow our three families have to coordinate interactions so that these three girls are able to maintain their sisterly bond. Ashley and I share the role of being the much younger sister. With this comes a strange combination of adoration and distance. When you are seven, it is a struggle to connect with your thirteen year-old sister (let alone your 20 year old mother of two sister).
Ashley's sisters are 13 and 14 and they both clearly care about her. It breaks my heart that these girls live apart. I can't imagine what my world would have been like without the constant love and support of my two sisters. At the same time, Ashley has grown a lot in her time with us and it is clear that her being the only child in the house is the positive choice for her.
The reality of taking care of this child is that we now have become members of a much larger family that is focused on creating the healthiest environment for these children as we possibly can. The bonus is that it gives Ashley the feeling of being an only child, but at the same time she can be a member of a much larger family. Not only will she slowly learn her way through our biological families, but she also gets to be part of the best parts of her biological family.
My hope is that if it all works out as we would like it to, these families will be part of our lives for a long time and hopefully Ashley will be able to look back and appreciate a large safety net of biological, foster, and hopefully adoptive families. I hope that she can reach the point where she forgets who is part of what category and just feels lucky to have such a large extended family.