Blended families and how the shapes of family trees are changing #It takes a village#big kids#Step-parents Updated Oct 12 2015 (Posted Aug 30 2012) Guest post by Kristin Ireland Kristin and her brother. Photo by Stolen Glances Photography. Families are magnificently complicated. They bend and shift to include new members based on shared lineage, marriage, and choice. These days family trees take on odd shapes. Limbs poke out of nowhere and tangle around one another. Red Oaks mix with Longleaf Pines to create something entirely new and utterly perfect. Few people understand this pattern better than folks in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities. We tend to find family in our communities. Those of us in same-sex relationships often need to become creative in-order to raise children. We enter relationships with children born from opposite sex unions. We adopt. We donate sperm. We find surrogates. We birth babies. We raise the babies our partners' have birthed. It's messy, but it's real. Last Christmas my (far bigger than me) little brother brought a girlfriend home. I wasn't surprised by this. Finding girlfriends was never a problem for my brother. Staying with them has proved far more difficult. She brought children into the relationship with her. Experiencing the magic of the holidays through the eyes of tiny people who hear reindeer hoofs and tear open gifts like the secret of life might be in the bottom of the box is always exciting. But I was determined not to get attached. But then I actually met Lisa and Alyssa and Reid. And I witnessed my brother fall absolutely and completely head over heels in love for the very first time. And all efforts to remain detached went out the frosted, snow-covered, window. In the months that followed I watched as my brother, who for many years had stubbornly refused to settle down, was softened and matured by the love of a woman. And in finding that kind of love he has created a branch of our family tree that we suddenly couldn't live without. So when he proposed to Lisa and asked me to help plan a wedding that would be taking place in just a few short months I was honoured. I traveled from Ottawa to Sudbury to go dress shopping, to plan timelines, to shop for decorations. I helped my wife make invitations. I painted a couch in the bright turquoise colour of their wedding for a photo prop. I made tissue paper pom-poms, set-up tables, did the bride's make-up, and wrote a speech. And somewhere in the middle of it all I wondered why I had taken on so much. And then in the middle of my brother's ceremony, before the minister asked them to exchange rings and make their union official, my brother invited his step-daughter up to the front of the service. At six feet and five inches tall he towered above the blonde haired eight year old. With a tremble in his voice, and tears that needed to be blinked back, he said the following: Related Post I had to ground my step-son for the first time and it made me feel like a "real" parent I love my little man. He's seven, and while not mine by birth, he sure as hell is mine by love. The four of us... Read more Alyssa, before I marry your mother I need to ask your permission to become your dad. If you will allow me I will promise today to keep our family together and to love you for the rest of my life. Will you accept this necklace as a symbol of our becoming a family? His giant hands pulled a tiny interlocking heart necklace from his pocket and he placed it around her neck as her smile got big enough to take over her whole face. My heart filled with so much pride for my big little brother. And every minute spent making tissue paper pom-poms seemed entirely worth-while. My brother and I grew up with very little in common. But as adults we have one very important shared experience. I am raising my biological child with a partner who is not biologically related to that child. My brother is raising children he is not biologically related to with a partner who is. Sometimes family trees grow in the traditional way. Roots form, a trunk is established, and branches develop. Other times those roots tangle up with the roots from a different tree. They twist and mingle until it is unclear where one ends and the other begins. Pine needles mix with red oak leaves and the world makes very little and entirely perfect sense. Guest post written by Kristin Ireland Kristin is a blogger, photographer, mom and her wife's wife living in Ottawa Ontario. Mondays with Mac is just your typical girl meets girl, girl marries girl, girls meet gay man on internet to have baby with, fairytale for the digital age kinda story. http://www.mondayswithmac.com/ PREVIOUS Make Tetris chocolate molds using tile NEXT Peanut butter and jelly banana dog Show/Hide comments [ 41 ] I'm totally crying at work. This was beautifully written and very true. ME TOO! Glad it's not just the pregnancy making me cry. Thank-you. When it got to the ceremony and he gave the necklace to the little girl I totally shed some tears. What a beautiful story!! Thank you for sharing. That is just so beautiful. Thank-you. It was beautiful to witness. Yeah, thanks for making me cry and messing up my contact lenses. Lovely article. My apologies 😉 I love this so much. Love. This. So. Much. What an amazing family tree you have! <3 couldn't agree more. I'm sitting at my desk at work trying not to burst into tears. This is so extremely touching. Well done Kristin's brother! he done good – my big little brother. Beautifully written and so so true. Thank you for this. My kooky family tree is something I'm so proud of, and it's always amazing to me how many definitions there are for family! Definitely – the more definitions the better! Im not crying… it's allergies. Totally allergies. As a someone who grew up with a nontraditional family structure, it totally doesn't matter as long as the love is there. And it so totally is for you guys. "I'm not crying! I'm having an allergic reaction to feelings!" *sob* So I commiserate with your allergies. About to take the first step toward creating a non-traditional family. ha! What an awesome story! Thank you for making me smile. I'm totally going over to hug my step dad after work!! Thanks for this. That made my day. Thank-you. all the criez! <3 That's beautiful! Was Reid also included in the ceremony? Or just Alyssa? Reid is still an infant. He was the ring bearer but didn't have a clue that his Mama was getting married. Ah! I understand now. That is such a beautiful account of family. I wish family tree websites were more up to date to account for blending and twisting and turning! SO MUCH TEARS OVER HERE Beautifully written! (Also, crying.) I got married for the second time this past June. I have 2 daughters from my first marriage, and so we also had to integrate children into a new family relationship. Our ceremony was beautiful and touching, and when we also said vows to my girls I completely bawled like a baby. I don't know how many other people in the audience did, I didn't pay attention. But this is so wonderful. Congrats on your new family members! So beautiful. Thanks for the desperately-waiting-to-leave-work-and-start-my-3-day-weekend cry. We did the same thing at our wedding, it was very sweet. For the necklace, we found a company that would put both of our fingerprints on a heart pendant with all three of our initials on the back… loved it! how sweet! *tears* future blended family here too. (well, already blended i guess, just not legal yet.) my husband passed away a month or so before our son was born. seeing my fiance become his dad has been both heartbreaking and mindblowing, so wonderful and bittersweet. we're still thinking about how to incorporate it into our ceremony. I'm so sorry for your loss. I wish you so much joy as your family grows. I was in graduate school when I found and reunited with both sides of my biological family. For the first time I was able to draw a tree that felt AUTHENTIC to me. It had me at the center, with roots going down and spreading out. That was my biology, my foundation of genetics that I finally was able to tap into. The rest of the tree spread sky-high as I included my branches of my adoptive family and my in-laws. Thanks for writing this! This is such a beautiful story, it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing such a personal moment/time with us. My fiance and I are blending two families as well and we plan to do something similar at our wedding next year. If Im anything like I am after reading your blog I will be an emotional wreck at our ceremony. LOL Awww! So beautiful. Totally made me cry too. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story. We wanted to include my step daughter in our wedding but her mother wouldn't let her come 🙁 However, we plan to renew our vows in a couple of years and we will definitely be including both her and our daughter in the ceremony – no matter what her mama says! All you need is love! Comments are closed.