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Adoption & Step-Families

Note: This post is the revised and renamed version of My Story: Part 2

I decided to write Part 2 of My Story. But in the revision, I decided that what I thought was my Part 2, did not really include parts of my story that matter to me. Consequently, I have decided to rename this post more accurately in addition to specific revisions made to the wording and titles of people, like “the ex” instead of “my husband” because he is no longer my husband.

Where I come from is related to where I am today – for better or for worse. What I am discovering in my adult life would have been helpful to know in my 20s. It certainly would have helped me work through the unresolved fact that I had black hair and my sister did not. I am not so caught up on this any longer but early on, I couldn’t help but notice!

The paradigm of it all though troubles me on occasion. I was adopted by my stepfather when I was about 2. At the age of 15, I gave birth to Mary, who I placed for adoption at birth. Then I became the proverbial blended family where my ex-husband was a step-father to my son, Xaviar, and I was a step-mother to his children (well barely, as we only met them once). While married, we chose not to adopt our step-children and for that, I am glad because now we are divorced after 17 long, difficult years mostly. I say that soberly and with great tenderness because clearly, divorce hurts and mostly the children are who are hurt the most and without reason.

I called this Part 2 for two reasons: 1. Being a step-family made up 17 years of my life and; 2. It was an ever-present area of conflict (purposeful smile). Most of the conflict we experienced in the marriage was the negative kind, that was left unresolved but there was also the stretching-of-the-soul kind of conflict that doesn’t exactly feel positive either.

Becoming a stepfamily was a process, hence the word: becoming. I imagine, as with any hard place in life there are good memories but not without cost.

Approximately one-third of all weddings in America today form a step-family. What makes this so challenging is no step-family looks the same. I found common experiences among other step-families but overall there is no one size fits all. To make matters worse, the findings add that one-third of Americans who got divorced were doing so for the second time – and I understand this all too well however my goal was to stay married.

Setting the stage for what feels like an insurmountable struggle up a steep cliff, I can remember still having hope. I may not have been able to say this in the moment and it pains me to know I am far from the top at being a good listener and communicator, or peacemaker, or gracious and kind, but I am still climbing. Not so much climbing the step-family ladder as that no longer exists because my children are all adults now.

Looking back now, as we know that hindsight provides a clear picture, I cannot think of anything I would do differently, aside from not marrying a narcissist again. (there will be many more parts of my story that elaborate on the months leading to the divorce and how I believe I arrived at the very difficult decision to end a commitment that I had fought so hard for! I felt like I was giving up.)

Celebrating Michal’s 18th birthday. August 2020. Cheesecake Factory, Jacksonville, Florida

As a step-family, in my experience, most of the struggle came from the conflict over feeling that my stepchildren were intruders to my traditional family within our “new” blended family.

A few simple things that helped me from falling off the cliff, perhaps you may find one helpful:

  1. Remembering we are not each other’s enemies – we each have feelings, viewpoints, and experiences. I’ve had many arguments with myself regarding this because everyone feels like the enemy quite frankly.

  2. Being honest. Somewhere along the way, I decided that most often it was safer to not be honest (of course there is something to be said here). Despite what I think the response will be as a result of my honesty, I do well to be real and honest. I am the only one that can share what I am thinking or how I view what is happening to me or around me.

  3. Although to balance honesty, there are times to be quiet. I always think of when God told Mary that she would give birth to the Messiah, we are told that she held all these things in her heart and pondered them! Along with several other verses in the Bible that speak about the right timing of oour words.

When I think about where I come from and the struggles that were against me it gives me perspective on how to handle today. Furthermore, the obstacles the ex and I faced walking into our second marriage challenged me. And yet, I found courage. I know that God can work through the poor decisions of others that have hurt me and those decisions I have made that hurt me and others – past and present. I am certain of God’s promises to change my ashes into beauty.

#differences #divorce #communication #stepparenting #racism #blendedfamilies #adoption #quietness #Family #stepchildren #race #peacemaker #Marriage #God #blacksheep #struggles #Children #honesty #conflictresolution

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