I come from a nuclear family full of worriers. There is no one better for catastrophizing than my mother. It didn’t take long before she and my sister (who had always wanted me to have a biological child) were kvetching about whether or not it was a good idea for us to have taken on such a challenging child. Along with their worry came a bit of detachment – because their fear would have likely lead them to stop the adoption process, they were a bit slow to warm in their commitment to seeing our son as a full part of the family.
Without grandma fully there, there was another unexpectedly unfilled role in our village. Where was our wise and loving female elder who was going to love him unconditionally and bake him cookies right before we wanted him to eat a healthy dinner? The answer came in a woman I have adored myself since I was about the same age as he – my beloved aunt! Auntie came with us on a week-long timeshare vacation and came with a full and open heart ready to love our boy with all of her being, just as she has my sister and I through our whole lives. Watching the two of them together – doing puzzles, watching the birds, giggling in imaginative play – it was suddenly clear that “Grands” weren’t the only loving elders who could play a role in community!
Sometimes our immediate families aren’t our best supports. Who else is there in the extended clan that might be there in your village in a role you didn’t consider? A beloved aunt? A cherished coach? A favorite teacher? A church member? Love can be packaged in many ways…are you open to finding it in a different package than you expected?