Saturday, August 30, 2014

St. Francis Park

On Sunday I brought my adoptive mom, husband and kids to St. Francis park to watch Kate and Steve play music. They were playing as part of a celebration for the park. Normally, I might have skipped it. While St. Francis is a beautiful park in the middle of southeast Portland with a gorgeous water feature that streams along the length of the park, it's inhabited by the homeless and I just don't feel safe letting the kids walk barefoot or roam out of my direct line of sight.

My mom seems comfortable with visiting with Kate and Steve and enjoys their music. We don't talk about it often, but she accepts Kate as part of my life. I don't think my mom sees Kate as a threat, just as an addition to the family not unlike how my husband's family is now part of ours.

But there are aspects of the two worlds coming together that are challenging for me; music has always been one. My parents gave me music lessons and bought me a piano, they wanted me to have music. I just didn't follow up with it, I let it slide away. Music just wasn't part of our lives. It wasn't a fault, it's just that my adoptive parents didn't happen to be musical themselves. I didn't grow up around people playing music.

After meeting Kate when I was 18, I've wondered if music would have been different for me had I been raised by her, had known that it was part of my heritage not just with Kate but also with her siblings and father and even my birthfather. I would have been surrounded by music had I grown up with my birthfamilies.

So, it's important for me for the kids to be able to see Kate perform. I want them to understand that's something that they can do too, if they want to.  

The kids, not knowing my intent in bringing them, spent their time playing in the water feature and using a bubble-blower gun to overtake the park with wild bubbles. They didn't really listen to the music. I'm not even sure if they were aware that the songs Kate and Steve performed were ones they had written.

As usual, the kids pick up on more than I expect.

A few days later, my 6-year old announced he would like to perform a song he just wrote, "The Only Way I Can Be Happy is if I See the Universe." He brought out the little kid guitar (a gift from Kate and Steve) to the backyard and sat on the porch. My mom, my 8-year-old and I took our seats in the plastic
chairs in the yard. He sang and strummed the guitar about a deep yearning to go up into the sky and see the universe, how he could never be happy until that happened. He sang loud and clear, seeming unconcerned with the potential audience of neighbors surrounding us.

We applauded and told him our favorite parts and he spent the rest of the evening working on the lyrics, writing them down on paper in his kindergarten writing. It inspired the 8-year old to write a song, "It's a Burning World Without You." The next day, we came home to a sign on the front door, "Consert Tonite," and they performed their final songs for their new nanny and us.  

Maybe they would have written songs and played for us without being exposed to Kate and Steve performing. But, maybe by seeing them they realized they could do it too. Maybe we need to be exposed to the family that came before us to know what we our capable of ourselves.


to view my birthmother's blog on the same topic, go to mothertone


Thoughts? Reflections? Opinions?

Please comment!

Monday, August 11, 2014

What a Wedding

Me, my husband and our beloved dog, Otto.
Kate is just to the right of me in the picture.
Eleven years ago yesterday, on 8/10/03, I got married.

I am pretty traditional when it comes to weddings (well, ignoring the big hairy dog bounding in the picture). I believe it is a celebration not only for the couple getting married but also for the families. I am not someone who would elope or limit my wedding to a small, select group. I believe our family and friends create the community that helps support and foster the marriage. The wedding represents not only who you are as a couple, but your family as well.

The family that attended my wedding was very different from the family I'd started out with.

My wedding was traditional in a lot of ways. My dad gave me away (the feminist in me lost the argument to the sweet sentiment of the ritual). My mother sat in the front row.

But, aside from a cousin of my mom's, I didn't have people from my adoptive family there. My adoptive family is small. I had a brother, but he had passed away years before. I didn't have any living aunts or uncles. My cousins, all significantly older than my brother and me and residing on the other side of the country, weren't able to come.

It would have been a very small wedding on my side of the family if my definition of family hadn't expanded significantly years before when I'd reunited with my birthmother and birthfather, and, to some extent, their families. So, in addition to my mother and father, I had my birthmother, Kate, there. Two of her sisters (my aunt Mary & aunt Gina), one of her brother's (my uncle Steve) and one of her cousin's (though he had to be reminded of who I was - we'd only met once before) came. Her daughter, my birth-sister, Abby, was one of my bridesmaid's. My birthfather came.
My dad and mom are in the front row. Behind my mom is Kate. To her
right is her husband, Steve, and to her left is my birthdad, John.

My family was full. And, the parts of me that had been unknown or unrecognized were unearthed as well. For me, the wedding symbolized the integration of who I am from all these different families. Although I was only 28 when I'd met my husband-to-be, I had been in reunion with my birthmother ten years and had just found my birthfather a month earlier. When we married four years later, he knew he was coming into a family of many branches. He knows me as who I am, as all of me, and all of my families.

The wedding was a blend of those families. The rehearsal dinner was a fun, casual backyard barbeque at my mother-in-law's. The wedding had two receptions. The first was hosted by my birthmother at the ceremony site in the woods where we were married, where she had married her husband, Steve, several years earlier. She had prepared the food and brought it with her. The second reception, was hosted by my parents, back in the city and was the traditional reception with the opening dance, full dinner, wedding cake et al.

It was the way I was able to incorporate all of my families into one wedding.

It was one that included all of me.


to view my birthmother's blog on the same topic, go to mothertone


Thoughts? Reflections? Opinions?

Please comment!