I saw this new community on the greenparty community, and was curious, and it just really seemed right up my alley. This overall concept of family and therefore the issues herein, have been major themes in my life for a very long time, and with seemingly good reasons.
Once upon a time in my life long ago, I tried to have biological children, but would never seem to happen for me, and this went to the highest medical fertility level, and finally culminated into a triplet pregnancy, which I miscarried. This experience both devastated me, as well as transformed me. I can never be the same again. I will never go through that again for a wide variety of reasons. And anymore, I believe for other medical reasons, beyond fertility, maybe I shouldn't have biological children. At this point in my life, I even waver back and forth between the thought of adopting or remaining child-free. On a day to day basis, remaining child-free just seems to fit my life and lifestyle and my ongoing issues so much better. But every so often, I think about adopting, but I've wondered if lately, that's becoming less and less. This would be due to some personal challenges, and not because I dislike children.
There has also been a lot of pressure to have biological children. This can come from various parts of society, the mainstream, the general workplace, family- as in biological family. This has been very true for me over the years. It used to be everywhere, constant and ongoing, and driving me absolutely insane. It was a lot worse after my experience with infertility, that culminated into triplets through invitro/ICSI and then miscarriage. People wanted me to try again, but primarily automatically assumed I would right away rush off to adoption... I just wanted time, healing, peace, etc. ...
Through all of this, we can add to the myriad of things that made me feel different from my own biological family. They looked to me to bring the next generation of offspring, and that wasn't happening. My mother wanted to share in that with her daughter. It was the hardest with her. She couldn't understand the way that I handled and was working through my feelings.
Like everything else, we didn't see eye to eye. I didn't feel accepted in my decision to move on with my life, as is. I have never really felt accepted by my family. I have never felt like I was enough for them, or that I was the daughter that they hoped I would be. I feel the weight of a million sadnesses from them where I am concerned.
One other big one, is religion. Being of an alternative religion, which under the broadest of terms is Paganism, has always been too much for them. So there have been many instances where I have tried to live openly with my bio-family, but this is not always in my best interest, and therefore they cannot really know me.
It is difficult enough for them that I live with someone without being married, but one thing that I find would be too difficult for them to ever understand, would be my bisexuality, and the fact that I've been at a stage where I would act on this, with females, which had been true since before my partner moved in. He accepted this then, and still does. The lines of communication are always open, and we use them.
The basics of points, remain that it has always been of the utmost of challenge to feel a sense of belonging to my most biological of family. And while I have done much to accept this, as the way things go, it only angers and upsets my mother, who has continued to try and change me, to the detriment of herself. I've asked her to try and accept this for her own sake and well-being, and that things will probably actually start to feel better. But she has a harder time with this concept.
However, my parents are moving in three weeks to Tucson, Az where the rest of the bio-rellies are now, after being here for 38 years. It's hard on the one hand, but maybe better on another.
And now for the Questions:
1. Define family
Family can be people who live together or not, who are woven together in some sort of tapestry through something that brought them together. They attempt the work that it takes to function as a unit, a team, and accept that no matter what, it does indeed take a lot of work to be family. Communication is the key in any kind of family. To me the truest sense of family are those who know you best and accept you for who you are, and therefore you feel freest to live the truth of yourself when you are around such people. Sometimes this still can take effort, as well. But all things worth it, does. Family could be biological, or they could be dear friends, [many of mine are] or the partners we live with, married or not, or any of the combinations thereof. Family are the people we love and who love us and inspire and sustain us.
2. Who is part of your family now?
In my most immediate family, I live with joscobo. I often call him, my partner, and we often refer to ourselves as a team. I think this is our 3rd year living together. I have various for not getting married, and so far, so does he. And yes, we have talked muchly about the legal ramifications, like emergency situations and visitation. That's my biggest concern at the moment, and wills, and providing for... Insurance has also come up, but domestic partners seems to only refer to same sex partners, so yeah... why not just get married... sigh.
I also have many good friends, whom I love and adore, some of which, we have mutually referred to each other as "family"-- and it has just felt exactly such.
My bio-brother also adopted his wife's kids last year, and when I met them for the first time, I was charmed from the start. It doesn't matter that they are Guatemalan and that I am white as snow, and that their baby half sister, my bio-niece, looks Asian because of the Euro-Guatemalan mix. I feel they are all equally mine. Love those three kids!
Not to mention my first niece, is my friend's daughter, and she was the first one EVER to call me "TIA"... since she could talk. I've been treated as an aunt by her, since before my bio-bro ever had kids. So, I am called a "Tia" by FOUR kids, and only ONE of them is a "bio" kid. I tell people I have one nephew and three nieces, because I do.
I already mentioned my bio-parents, and they're moving to Tucson where my bro and his family are, and a few other bio rellies, and I only have a few other bio rellies in the mid-west, but they never talk to me and vice versa, and they don't really know anything about me.
3. What has been your general experience with being part of a non-nuclear and/or non-blood family?
Being a part of a family, any kind of family, in my experience, takes work and cooperation. It takes a lot of communication, patience, and understanding. It takes time set aside to sit down and talk about what the needs are for the family/relationship. It takes teamwork and a concerted effort to make things work. It is only my experience that I've been easier able to do this with non-blood family, perhaps because of some of the elements mentioned above. They see the real me, and therefore understand me better, as we are getting along in the "everyday" and therefore the communication that needs to take place in various family situations have seemed to have better results in the end.
I just wanted to thank lula_neith for creating this community. I think it's a great idea.