An orchard of trees

Two tone tree

I bought myself a Mothers Day present this year – a necklace with an engraving of a tree on it. Around the bottom of the tree the names of all five of us in our family are engraved, myself my husband and our three adopted children. There’s also my birthstone hanging from the top of the necklace. This was something I saw online and thought what a nice way to show my family and remind myself of our family tree – not in the traditional sense but a tree that we’ve chosen and sometimes need to remind ourselves that we are a family however challenging it might feel at times.

When I think about family trees I have mixed emotions about them. My own family is a mystery to me in many ways as all my grandparents died very young in their 50’s – the last one died when I was about 4 and I have a vague memory of him lying on the couch and smoking! But not having that first hand knowledge of my past does bother me sometimes – I would have loved to have had grandparents there to talk about their lives and to spoil us. I tried to trace our family tree once but the names don’t seem real to me, I need the people interaction and connections for it to mean something and make sense.

When I think about my children’s experiences of their family trees it saddens me. They don’t so much have a family tree but an orchard of trees – our two family trees and of course their birth parents family trees that even-though we have them written down they will never be able to connect in the same way not having the people to talk to. It must be so confusing to have all these branches of your life that shot from you but you have little knowledge of them. It’s easy for me in some ways as I can look at my parents and see myself in them, I can look at my brother and see something of myself which helps with identity and belonging. For my children they have each other, which I know will help them in this way, but other than each other they can’t link themselves to anyone else at the moment.

Why is it so important for us to belong? We all seem to have an innate need to belong to a family and for some people that family is not through blood – whether through adoption, marriage or community – a group that we choose to call our family – we feel a sense of fulfilment in community. As if we need to be in that orchard of trees and not a lone tree.

Trees have always been a strong picture for me and something that comes back time and time again. Recently I was reminded of just how much I need to feel grounded and strong as a person – whose roots are steadfast and sure. Where we plant ourselves is important, the environment we choose to grow in is important and the food we choose to eat is important too. Without the things we need to grow we look good on the outside but underneath it all – at the roots we are unstable and can be tossed around by any passing wind. I know that when things get difficult for me as a parent, a wife, a friend or at work I need to be so securely rooted, know exactly who I am and where I belong so that I can find the strength I need to.

So whether you know much about your own past, whether you are struggling on this adoption journey or you just need to be reminded to be securely planted I hope when you look at a tree this week it will remind you that you have a place where you belong and as long as you are grounded you will be able to weather any storm.

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