WATERFORD, CT - A family portrait hangs in the living room of the Longs’ home. Taken last year at Thanksgiving, it shows Jesse and Jill Long surrounded by five children: three grinning teenagers and two much younger children. It’s an American classic. Norman Rockwell comes to Waterford. And yet the photograph is a testament to something else, a secret that only some families understand: that while love surely makes a family, determination and hard work are often needed to make it work, make it real.
The adoption process is a strange one—for everyone involved. I have no experience with what it is like to be adopted myself, or to be an adoptive parent. My understanding of adoption comes solely from my experiences as a child into whose home another child was adopted.
Last week, my husband and I hosted a dinner with our extended family to celebrate six different birthdays that occur during the months of January and February. At this dinner, as at all of them, my sister and I look around at the 15 people there (it’s sometimes 20 or more) and marvel at the relationships around us.
MarieChan opened her heart in Kazakhstan and the result is a story of longing, love, and family. Here, a husband and wife decide that it's not too late to build their family and begin a journey that takes them half way around the world to meet their children.
As long as there have been tattoos there have been symbolic homages to family.
Early Egyptian mummies indicate that tattooing was exclusively a female ritual intended to honour and protect women during pregnancy and childbirth. Tattoos have enjoyed a renaissance of late and, not surprisingly, the tattoo trend has given opportunity for ink-art representations of the complexity of family in the adoption community, too.
As I drive up to Mariechan’s house to do an interview for this story, a charming boy, doing graceful “S” turns with his scooter in the cul-de-sac, waves to me. He politely introduces himself as I walk up to the driveway. “Hello. I’m Aleksey. Are you here to visit my mom? I will tell her that you’re here. This is our house! Follow me! Oh, this is my sister, Valya.” There is a faint echo of Kazakhstan in his voice and nothing but smiles on his younger sister’s beautiful face.
Having more sisters and brothers means more love and sometimes having to hide all your nailpolish.
Kendra is 15 years old and a big sister to six siblings. Mary Caros interviewed Kendra about her experience with being the oldest sister in a family that chooses to adopt more children.
Tell me a bit about your siblings.
One day, Mom gave my sister an African-American Cabbage Patch Kid. I was given India Barbie. We didn’t know it at the time, but my sister and I were being prepared for our future.
My parents had decided that six kids by birth wasn’t enough so, when I was six years old, we welcomed through adoption my twin brothers Greg and Nicholas. I remember how proud I was to have them as my little brothers. It didn’t seem overly difficult or challenging for them to claim their places in our family. Our Irish and German family tree simply sprouted two new branches.
Do big adoptive families work better for children with attachment issues? The families we spoke to all think so.
These days, having numerous kids tends to be considered eccentric. For some children though, a bursting-at-the-seams-family may be exactly what they need.