I'm a researcher and analyst by trade. This often spills into my personal life. M has ADHD, I'll do all the research I can to understand her. Weird rash, I'm all over WebMD. When D struggles with his eating I've read and re-read "How to take the fight out of food." In the past 5 months, I've done extensive research on pulmonary embolisms, DVT's, and genetic clotting disorders, not to mention prostrate cancer.
I tend to face challenges in my life by digging in and trying to find an answer, whether it's a blog, online article, book, or going to an expert in person.
When it comes to our family, as evidenced on this blog, I'm a bit stumped. I've done research on loss, grief in children, etc. Some of it helps, and some of it doesn't. There isn't much out there on loss of both parents at the same time in a car accident. There isn't much out there on helping your biological children adjust after adopting two of their cousins whose sisters are living with their lesbian aunt. Many well-meaning people have compared our situation to divorced families who have to negotiate step-parenting and step or half siblings. Nice try, but this really doesn't fit either.
In order to understand how to help both the girls and the boys adapt, I started looking at the adoption angle and I found out a category for us...sorta.
Turns out we've done a kinship adoption or are practicing kinship care. I got almost giddy when I found out about this. We have a label! There has to be tons of stuff out there on kinship adoption!
Ummm...no. Most of the support groups, advice, etc. on kinship adoptions is for grandparents adopting their grandchildren. There's lots of stuff about parenting again, after already raising your own children. I even found help for grandparents to understand the new trends in parenting.
I'd be lying if I didn't say how disappointed I was.
I'm still hoping for something or someone to help explain our family. Help for all of us in this adjustment, kids and adults alike. I'm grasping for something to make me feel less alone. An answer.
Whenever the girls are being particularly trying and make declarations that we're not really their family, K likes to joke that we were already family before the accident. We all already loved each other. I may not have raised these girls from birth, but I was right there at both of their births, and walked side-by-side with Jeanne while she parented them.
The accident, in so many ways, blew up our family. We're still struggling to figure out how all the pieces fit together. On the other hand, though, it's expanded our conceptions of family and love. That can't be a bad thing, right?