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Honoring Those Who Honor Our Patchwork Families

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How have people honored, supported, and encouraged your patchwork families? How do you celebrate your patchwork families? (A Patchwork Family is one with non-traditional structures or with members of different ethnic backgrounds.)

I said this about my Grandmother at her funeral on Wednesday. I was raised with my step-brothers who joined the family when they were 11 and 12 and my biological brother and I were 3 and 4. My youngest child was adopted from S. Korea.

"My brother has asked me to speak for both of us. Travis and I will always remember our Grandmother for her loving devotion to her family.



When Tim and I were going through the adoption process for Hope, the agency asked all the prospective adoptive parents to seriously consider the reaction of family members, particularly older ones, to having a relative that was not genetically related to them and of a different race. Some of the other couples cringed at the thought. I smiled. If there is anything our Grandmother loved unconditionally it was family and she didn't care how her family came together, what we looked like, or even if we had any redeeming qualities or not. She was ahead of her time. She understood that family was more than genetics-something we all need for these days with complicated family structures. And besides, isn't that what The Church is? A family without genetic relationship made up of every tribe and nation? She lived out her faith practically.



Some of us were born into her family, some of us came in by marriage or by the marriage of a parent. Some were here on day one and some came in after a decade or more on this earth. For some there was legal documentation and for others there wasn't. However we managed to join her biologically eclectic motley crew, our Grandmother delighted in being family to us. All she wanted was to love us. For better or worse, once you join this herd, you're one of us.



She also understood that people take very personally how you treat their loved ones. Any family to her family was family to her even if that branch of the family was on a different tree. When my husband Tim's Grandmother died, my Grandmother said, “You mean OUR Emma is gone?†And she meant it that way. Our cousin, Stephanie, on our dad's side, responded to news of her death with, “Your grandparents always treated Albert and I like we were theirs.†That's how they were. It didn't make any difference if we were a half, step, twice removed, extended relative by marriage or a direct biological descendant- she loved us all the same way because she thought of us all the same way.



She didn't hold back either. If we drew her a picture, it was the most beautiful picture ever drawn-even of she had no idea what it was. If we played her a song it was the greatest performance ever-even though she was completely tone deaf. If we visited her, she praised God out loud for granting her the privilege of living to see not just her grandchildren, but her great-grandchildren. She and Granddad always told each other they were the most fortunate people who ever lived.

The accepted term for families with non-traditional structures or families with members of different ethnicities is 'patchwork family.' Our Grandmother thought hers was the most beautiful one God ever pieced together."

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