Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Family Matters

We're basically a bicoastal family. Hubby grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and his whole immediate family still lives in the area. I grew up in the Buckeye State; my parents and one brother are there. I have a brother in the SW and a sister in the Big Apple. The Nugget's birthfamily is in the NW for now, but his Tummy Mummy is bound for the SW in December. We think Lil Sib's birthfamily will be in the NW too, but we don't truly know.

Once upon a time, I went to college, primarily to get a great education and have an incredible learning and living experience. But I would be lying if I said I didn't also hope to meet my future spouse there. And I'd definitely be lying if I said I didn't have a list of requirements in mind about said-future spouse. The number one requirement being, "from the Midwest". Well, life happens, I realized just how dumb my know-it-all-17-year-old self was for making that list in the first place, and thank God, I met my other half and fell in love despite his rainy birthplace.

After 7 years in the NW, we moved back to the Midwest for a myriad of reasons that I won't delve into too deeply, but that I can say was truly the right move for our family of 3 at the present time. Was it the right move for our entire extended family? I'm not sure.

Truth be told, I'm not sure there is a perfect place for us to live. If we decided to be truly fair in terms of mileage, maybe we'd set up camp in Kansas or Oklahoma, but then we'd be super far from everyone, and hello, Tornado Alley! I guess ideally, we'd convince both sides of our family to move to the same state, but even if we were both only children (we're not), that would be pretty unlikely.

One thing I love about open adoption is that it has made our family bigger. When people ask what our relationship is like with the Nugget's birthfamily, the best comparison I can give is acquiring more in-laws. Two families merging together over the shared love of an individual. It's a young relationship, one that will grow over time. But it's no less valid, no less true, and no less loving than the other branches of our family tree.

So my question is what happens when a Buckeye girl and a NW boy get married and adopt a son, acquire an even larger family, and are waiting for their family tree to grow even more branches, possibly in places unknown? I'm not sure. I know our future is riddled with frequent flier miles, hotel rewards, pack-n-plays, rental cars, toys rolling down the airplane aisle, scheduled Skype chats, and yards of packing tape purchased for care packages. I can guess that there will be tears shed from relatives who feel left out during one holiday or the next. I can definitely say I will have panic attacks about not being able to please everyone at once and then have personal growth from accepting that I can never please everyone at once. I fear a time will come when budget constraints and rising costs might affect our ability to purchase 4 plane tickets twice a year. I worry about what happens when our parents need more care than we can give them from afar. I wish all the Nugget could frolic with all his cousins on a random weekend (ok, so in reality it might be more like fighting over a single Tonka truck but this is a dream sequence in which all the cousins wear white outfits, and catch fireflies barefoot while miraculously avoiding grass stains while Life in a Northern Town plays in the background). I wish there were a clearer roadmap for navigating this life. And sometimes I am envious of those LDS families who all seem to live together in a commune in Utah (although not so envious of the underwear).

But what I refuse to wish away is our life together. Hubby, we may have given ourselves more challenges than necessary by choosing each other. But I'd never trade you for the world (or a fellow Buckeye boy). Nugget, I am so thankful everyday that your birthfamily chose us and that instead of being strangers, they've become our family. Family, always know that we want to be with each and every one of you, for every holiday, birthday, and lazy weekend, even when we can't manage our time or travel the way we want, when we want. And finally, dear scientists - please get a move on - we could really use that beaming technology. Really. Any day now.

Are any of you readers blessed with a bicoastal family? How do you make it work?


  1. Great post as always Annie.
    So let's see: birth parents in Oregon, in-laws in Arizona, brother in law in Washington, parents and brothers in France in various parts of the hexagon... does that qualify me for bi-continent?
    We don't make it work. Email, phone, skype are all great by-ways to still feel like we are family but sometimes it is just frustrating to not be closer. And with plane ticket prices sky rocketing, I might have to paddle my way back to France: two tickets+ train round trip = $2500.
    So, I am getting ready to put my stocks in the beaming technology too.

  2. Haha! Michael was just talking tpday about the need for someone to invent teleporting! And we only live about an hour away from our families! Of course, Michael's further from work...yeesh. Don't worry, you'll get through it, and with the advances in technology, you can keep in touch with everyone like never before. Imagine what it would be like without email/skype/long distance phone calls...EGADS!

  3. What a great post! Hubby's family lives three and a half hours away, which is where we'll be for Thanksgiving. We have not been there for approx. 18 months - this will be Ladybug's first trip there (we have to get permission from DCS to take her on trips...) so it should be fun. When we were first married we went to visit his family much more often, but now not so much. They come to our neck of the woods throughout the year for bridal/baby showers, or weddings, funerals... It seems to be working for us and his family. I know they would like us to visit more, but we need to be realistic. When we do visit, we spend good quality time together and I'd rather have quality than quantity :) Have a great Thanksgiving!