I’m not sure what I was thinking trying to go to bed early tonight because it is not working out for me. So many thoughts running through my head that I decided the best thing to do was to blog.
Over the summer I really started to explore the whole idea of family. As an All-Star one of the most valuable lessons I learned was that I could define what family means to me. Like most every foster youth in the United States my relationship with my biological family is a bit of a mess. It is something quite comparable to a roller coaster traveling up and down at any given time.
While in still in kinship care my relationship with my bio-family was good. I lived with my aunt and started re-building my relationship with my mother. My aunt and mom started getting a long. Things were really on a smooth ride. However, after I started college the ride started to hit a few bumps. I moved away and my aunt more or less quit being a supportive adult in my life. My mom and I were “good” on a day-to-day basis. My relationship with my brother depended on how things were with my mother. As for my other aunts, uncles, and cousins they weren’t really existent in my life. As you can tell a total rollercoaster!
Throughout my next few years of college the roller coaster continued. I more or less replaced my family with friends, fraternity brothers, and other supportive adults I was around at school and work. The only bio-family relationships I put effort toward were with my mother and brother. Nevertheless, those were never “stable”.
To me this was just was just the way things were always going to be or so I thought until this summer. While working with FosterClub I decided I did want my biological family to have a presence in my life and after learning that I could control exactly how this would play out I was much more privy to the whole idea of having my bio-family active in my life.
I began with reaching out to my aunt who I lived in care with. I have always had the upmost respect for her and nothing but gratitude for her allowing me to live with her. As I have written before it has bothered me every second since we lost communication. To my surprise reaching out to her was reciprocal. Our relationship is by no means what it was while I was in care with her. However, I have her in my life once again and know that she is only a phone call away.
I do not believe my mother and I will ever have a “normal” relationship. Although I would have to argue that “normal” when referring to a relationship is something defined on an individual basis. So I suppose I am not searching for "normal" but something that works for us. In my heart, I have no doubt that she loves, cares, and is proud of the person I am. I know that in her heart she feels regret for the actions that led to me being placed into foster care and if she could go back in time would change how things played out.
Personally, I would not change the past. I would not be half the woman I am today if I had not been through everything that led to me being placed in foster care. I gained strength, determination, and motivation that has enabled me to build the life I have now. I no longer blame or hold anything against my mother. I love her and know that our relationship is a working progress. I accept it for what it is at face value. We are both headstrong women, which can make things difficult at times. However, we both continue to put forth effort and are continuing our relationship. It is by no means perfect but I am looking forward to seeing how it develops.
What has really helped me to get to this point was through this past summer and learning countless ways to handle situations with bio-family through a workshop called ”It’s Relative” or sometimes called “Bio-Hazard.” When things are leaning more toward the difficult side with my mom I use techniques from that workshop. I cannot begin to express how much stress and tears this has saved me. Overall, I feel that me choosing not to talk to her until she cools down and is ready to communicate on mature levels builds better rapport for both of us. My relationship with my mother is the epitome of a roller coaster. We are either really good or really bad. If there is one thing I hope for it would be balance in our relationship.
As for my brother well, he just turned 14. Oddly we probably get along better than we ever have. I know he really looks up to me. I try to set good examples for him and teach him life lessons that I consider to be some the best I have learned. As a first generation college student I really hope my brother falls in my footsteps. If there is one thing that he learns from me I pray that it is the importance of higher education!
As I mentioned other aunts, uncles, and cousins really have not served as key players throughout the past several years of my life. Again to my surprise they have been much more present in my life and I could not be happier. I received birthday wishes from relatives I haven’t heard from in years. A simple “Happy Birthday” and cards made me feel more love than ever. Since then I have been trying to keep up the communication to continue their presence in my life. I am really happy to once again have this support and love.
One relative that stands out to me is the cousin whom I talk with weekly. He is at a point where he is re-building his life and making it better for him and his two beautiful daughters. I cannot express how happy and proud I am of him. Watching him grow has been one of my favorite transformations to watch. His two little girls mean the world to me. Seeing him make a better life for him and the girls makes my heart burst with love and happiness! This is one of the most meaningful bio-family relationships. Out of all my extended family he is the one who reached out to me first. I love that and am honored to be a part of their life.
Learning that I could define my family and determine what’s relative to me is one of the most priceless lessons FosterClub could have taught me. I no longer get upset or stressed when things do not go how I want them to. I deal with it in a way I am comfortable with. Family is something that I want but on my terms. Since returning home from Oregon this has worked out for me and I have faith that it will continue to as well. I have no doubt that it will still continue to be a roller coaster ride but now I will cherish the ups and learn from the downs. Overall, I think this technique will help me to balance out the ride.