As parents we are may be dealing with things we never planed on. I mean, Elementary school kids pretending to play "house" do not often have step kids in their stories? And thanks to a lot of children's movies a step -mom is a horrible mean lady out to get you. Yet, there are a lot of nice people out there being step parents. And if you don't have any step-kids of your own I am sure you are connected to some. My niece and nephew are now step kids.
Jeannine (co-author of this blog and my best friend) has a family that includes a step-daughter, 2 biological kids and 2 kids adopted out of foster care. They are a multiracial blended family. And it is a beautiful family. But it is not without it's difficulties.
My family is not what my childhood self thought it would look like. I thought I would have kids that would look like me. I look almost exactly like my mom. Like, my mom's high school friends were confused when they came for a High School reunion one year. But my kids, very obviously, don't look like me... they are from Korea (and I not). My family was formed through adoption. And since we choose to do international adoption we now have a multiracial family. I was not present at their births, some one else took care of them for the first 9 months of their life. My kids life started with loss, loss of a parents and a culture. We try to include as much Korean culture as we can but it is not the same as living there. When I show up for conferences at my kids school the teachers are sometime confused which kid I belong to. All of this adds complexity to our family. We did take some classes on multiracial families from our adoption agency and it did help up get an idea of what we were getting into, but I don't think any class could prepare us for what it truly is like.
And is true for all families. Many families have biological kids and one of them has special needs. Or one of them has behavior problems that they don't know how to handle, or mental health issues. I don't think anyone is prepared for that and it is not covered in our birthing classes!
So what do parents need these day to help get us get through these complex issues? I believe it is support.
I am part of an adoption moms groups that meets once a month just to encourage and support each other. We all come from different walks with adoption, some have adopted domestically, some internationally, some through foster care. Some kids came to us days old and some kids came to us years old. But we are all there to love and support each other. We talk about the hard things and get advice without judgment.
And since Jeannine and I both have complex families we talk to each other about the hard and sometimes ugly things of parenting. I am so grateful for this friendship and that my kids can see other family that were formed unconventionally.
We have to find our support and we have to be support to others. It is the only way we can thrive in this very difficult role of parents.
It is also great that more complex families are showing up on movies and tv shows. We love Netflix for our TV watching! Some of the shows that we like for our kids are:
Sophia the First (Blended family)
Spy Kids 4 (Blended family)
Word girl (she is adopted)
Jessie (3 out of the 4 kids are adopted)
The Tigger Movie (Finding where you belong if you don't look like everyone else)
*Disclosure: I am part of the Netflix Stream team. However all opinions are 100% honest!