I have to state that I am thankful for my Mother-in-Law separate from the fact that I am thankful for my Father-in-Law. They are divorced and don’t speak. So, I am not exactly thankful for them together but I am thankful for what they have done for and meant to me separately.
My Mother-in-Law is a gem. (How many people get to say that? I am so blessed!) I met her while I was pregnant with the Munchkin. She had been an unwed Mother in the 70′s, marrying Josh’s older sister’s Dad because of the pregnancy. She was nothing but supportive as I continued on in the pregnancy, asked for the occasional bits of advice (and food; oh, can she cook) and eventually made the decision to place.
She has never been one ounce of judgemental regarding the Munchkin’s placement. I feared she might be as she chose a different path for her unplanned pregnancy. Yet, she has never had an unkind word. In fact, all of her words have been kind. In those first few weeks post-placement, she did a bunch of things for both Josh and I that I will be forever grateful. Since J & D and I have fostered such an open adoption, she, too, has gotten involved in her own way.
She always remembers to ask me how the Munchkin and her family are fairing. On my first Mother’s Day after the Munchkin’s birth, when I was feeling very down, she was the only person aside from J & D and Josh who thought to tell me Happy Mother’s Day. When J & D come to visit, she comes over with bags of gifts for the kids. I know that had I parented the Munchkin, my Mother-in-Law would have been just as loving and as supportive. The world of open adoption was a new concept for her but she has been nothing but open minded and compassionate. I am thankful for the way she has embraced not only me but the family that I brought along for the ride.
My Father-in-Law is a slightly different story. Josh and his Dad don’t have as close of a relationship as he has with his Mom; things happened and that’s just the way it is. Yet, there’s love there, just on the more reserved and quiet side. After all, these are Hatfield men.
For quite some time, Josh’s paternal side of the family did not know about Munchkin. They met her, of course, at our wedding, showers and other events in which all were present, but they didn’t know that the little girl with eyes that mirror my own was actually my flesh and blood. They simply assumed that she was D’s daughter which is, of course, true. It’s just a little more involved than that!
This past summer, as I moved into a sense of peace with who I am as a Mother, birth mother and human being, I asked my Husband to tell his side of the family about Munchkin, who she was to us and that Nicholas would be raised with the knowledge that he has an older sister. I felt it was his place to do the telling because, really, his family doesn’t have to like me but for my peace of mind, I would prefer for them to like him. I figured they would be more prone to understanding if Josh gave the news. I was right.
Nothing has been said to me which I initially took as a bad sign and then just figured that no news was good news. Well, I was right. As you know, the Munchkin and family were at Nick’s birthday party as was my Father-in-Law. This was the first time that they had been in the same place while knowing who she was to me and our family. Again, nothing was said.
Josh and his Dad were hunting, off doing manly things like men do in our family. Apparently, this time is also used for talking. Manly men don’t often share things so this must be when they do it; out in the woods, alone with nature, feelings must just come pouring out.
The story goes that my Father-in-Law asked some more about the Munchkin: her age, some other things about her personality. He said that, as he had seen her at the party, that she was really cute. Josh shared some stories from our visit to further explain her personality. And that was that.
It seems simple, right? It’s more than just that to me. The fact that he talked about her and asked about her in a non-confrontational manner… or even at all… speaks volumes. One of the sides of the family that we expected not to accept the Munchkin as part of our family… simply is accepting her.
And that’s what I’m thankful for today: acceptance from my Husband’s family.