Tomorrow I will wake up as the mother of an 18 year old daughter. Yes, I have several 18 and older daughters, but this one is the one whose diapers I changed. She is the one whose first steps, first day of kindergarten and first tooth are documented in a baby book. Today, I celebrate the passage into adulthood of our biological daughter, Kristan.
My blog consists mostly of posts about foster care and adoption; those things define us as a family. We currently have seven young women who call us mom and dad. Each of them has blessed us, challenged us and helped us grow as parents and people. However, I also often get the question, “So, you only have one biological daughter, how does she feel about all of her adopted siblings?” The answer to that question is complex and one that makes her a hero to her dad and I; below are just a few parts of the answer (along with more photos that I can’t resist sharing – she’s going to murder me.)
She is supportive.
From the day we told her that we were going to adopt she was excited. Each sister that has followed has been met with Kristan’s support and love. We are so proud of her for her amazing capacity to accept each new addition to our family, each new challenges it brings and to share the love of her mom and dad with so may others. Things haven’t always been easy and she has had plenty of moments that were difficult – growing up is a challenge in and of itself, not made any easier with the added complexity of our family. But, one thing I can always count on is – she will always say, Yes – let’s do this! From the very beginning, her support and tenacity has made this journey easier for us. We’re so very blessed.
She is not perfect.
Having siblings isn’t always easy. Being a teenager isn’t easy. She has made mistakes as both a sibling and a teenager. However, each and every time, she’s bounced back with resilience and strength. I’m often blown away at the way she processes not only her own downfalls, but those of others… which brings me to my next point…
She is forgiving.
We have made many mistakes as parents – some of which caused Kristan great pain. We talk about these things openly in many foster and adoptive settings. One of the biggest was that somewhere along the way, we made her feel like her problems weren’t big compared to the problems of her sisters. As a result, she internalized everything and felt guilty for having a bad day. This eventually boiled over into some serious times for her and for us. Yet, somehow along the way she found the ability to forgive us and continue to not only support but encourage the growth of our family. We’re grateful daily for the forgiving and understanding young woman that she has become.
(I hope she forgives me for all of these pictures)
She is amazing.
Kristan is an amazingly smart, talented and lovely young woman with a very bright future ahead of her. I can’t believe she’s mine. There is no way this journey would have been as fun or as successful if she hadn’t been a part of it. She tells us the hard things, reflects back to us things that help us grow and loves us unconditionally. We can’t wait to see where her life takes her. She really is amazing.
We are proud of her. We celebrate her. We are blessed by her.
Happy Birthday, Kristan Faith Parish. May all of your dreams come true – welcome to a new age.