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You Can't Choose Your Family. Or Can You? Wednesday February 18, 2015

Twenty-six years ago my son was born. I wasn't there at the time. In fact, I didn't even meet him until he was twenty one.

That would be sad, but not unusual, if I were his father. But I'm his mother.

When Tom came into our lives five years ago we didn't know he was our son. He turned up at our daughter's fifth birthday party (held in the local swimming pool) in the capacity of a lifeguard. He was a friend of a friend.

But, by the time he had given ten little girls dolphin rides all around the pool for an hour, organised ten lots of party plates, helped with presents, then come home with us and eaten vast quantities of spaghetti bolognaise, he was not only a friend but a member of the family.

He liked us as much as we liked him. His own family was chaotic and he loved the ordered structure and discipline of our home. He idolised my husband and adored the girls.

It became automatic to invite him to everything and our neighbours and friends have become used to him as a fixture, but it was still a shock when one of the neighbours asked, in all innocence, "So, is Tom your son from a previous marriage then?"

Well, yes, the colouring's right, the nose is bang on. So yes, he could easily be my son. We began to joke about it a bit. When I take him shopping or we're out as a family, it's just easier to introduce him that way.

Sadly, at Christmas, his own family, always dysfunctional, stopped functioning at all as far as he was concerned and if home is the place you can always go back to and they can't throw you out, then although he'd moved out to go to university and then to a job, he was essentially homeless.

But not anymore. He's asked me if I can be his real mum (I think the job involves doing his washing and mending when he comes home, baking him cakes and allowing him to empty the fridge and probably slipping him the odd fifty quid when he runs short) and of course I've said yes. The first thing my husband said on hearing the news was "I'd better clear out the spare room for him then, so he's always got a place to stay," and my daughters want to sign a bit of paper so they have an official and legal big brother.

I don't know if you can adopt someone when they're twenty six, especially when they have biological parents still living, and we've probably got some stuff to sort through to make sure it works for the long term. But he's chosen us as his family and we've chosen him as our son. We'll make it work between us.

Proof that you can choose your friends and sometimes you can choose your family too.

A Moodscope member.

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Leah Wed, Feb 18th 2015 @ 5:55am

Family I feel has more to do with support and nurture than with genetics. I grew up with a brother who was adopted and a foster brother and sister. I think the informal and caring nature of your relationship with your son, shows how important having people around who care. Also I think it is very worthwhile even in the most healthy of families for individuals to reach out and find other people with whom they can form relationships. My adult children have a couple of families that have been welcomed into. I also have welcomed in young people as teenagers. Life can be isolating and lonely so it is great to have families who welcome you. Thanks Mary for bringing back wonderful memories.

Anonymous Wed, Feb 18th 2015 @ 7:11am

Such a beautiful blog, had tears in my eyes. I believe people cross our paths for a reason, I could feel the love and warmth in your writing such a lovely way to start the day, thanks Mary

Matthew B Wed, Feb 18th 2015 @ 7:38am

This is a really lovely story. I'll be thinking about this and smiling all day!

Hopeful One Wed, Feb 18th 2015 @ 7:55am

Hi Mary- Thanks for a lovely heart warming story. I felt I wouldn't mind being adopted myself!

Debbie Wed, Feb 18th 2015 @ 8:40am

Mary, what a beautiful retelling of your story - there's so much love in that piece, thank you for sharing. I wish you every success and happiness in your family going forward. x

Robin Turner Wed, Feb 18th 2015 @ 8:57am


Anonymous Wed, Feb 18th 2015 @ 9:00am

Just lovely - the family we have around us is our choice. Of course the family we come from may intersect this - but not always. Recognising and appreciating 'what is' can be fundamental in living a full life as oneself. Growing up I was 'adopted' frequently by people who saw my need and loved me for who I am. Having created a family as an adult I have made adoptees welcome and as they grow up do enjoy their appreciative feedback.

Anonymous Wed, Feb 18th 2015 @ 9:32am

You do realise, don't you, are going to need a much bigger house...cos there'll be lots of us who want you to adopt us too!
What a fabulouse thing you and your whole family are doing for this young man, your son! I am so thrilled that your husband has taken him in too and that the girls want an official certificate!!! What a loving, kind family you are. Hoping all continued well, love Karen x x x

Anonymous Wed, Feb 18th 2015 @ 9:34am

Also, Mary, I just wanted to know (because I wm beaky) how could Tom's other parents and family let him go? So sad for them and him in a way, but so happy he has you. Karen again!

Anonymous Wed, Feb 18th 2015 @ 9:36am

Sorry for all spelling in a hurry! K ;)

Anonymous Wed, Feb 18th 2015 @ 12:07pm

This is so beautiful it made me cry :')

Anonymous Wed, Feb 18th 2015 @ 1:51pm

Needed this today, so at the right time for me. Am really struggling right now due to my family!
And I am trying so hard to keep my mouth shut and be dignified.

Dawn Wed, Feb 18th 2015 @ 2:16pm

Extremely moving. It is a testament to you as a person Mary that he asked you to fill this very special role. Thank you for making me smile x

The Entertrainer Thu, Feb 19th 2015 @ 8:02am

Mary, you are my favourite story-teller. As Les talks about EQ, so also it is clear that positive emotion flows through your stories.

I think, in all honesty, you're going to need a bigger house. Adopting someone aged 54 - is that possible?

Anonymous Thu, Feb 19th 2015 @ 9:09am

Mm. ..The power of Love. Gill

Anonymous Thu, Feb 19th 2015 @ 10:03am

What a lovely story and you moved me to tears with your line "home is a place you can go back to and they cant throw you out " Sadly that was not my experience and it has taken me many years to realise that it had everything to do with them and only a small part to do with me.The biggest thing I have been able to do is not blame them for their struggles and not be like that with my own children.Extending that love to another is a huge step up from that.The world is a better place because loving, caring people make it so !

Anonymous Thu, Feb 19th 2015 @ 12:00pm

Once you can truly forgive your parents/family/friends for the hurtful things they have said or done to you or your loved will be set really is the best gift you can give yourself!

Alicia Fri, Feb 20th 2015 @ 2:00am

Mary, that's very touching. Thank you. Keep us posted! :) xxxxx

Armour Academy Sat, Feb 21st 2015 @ 8:34am

Beautiful! Thank you Mary. My Mum was "adopted" into the family of a school friend and it really shaped her life for the better, allowing her to experience loving parenting that she recreated in her own family. You are not just changing your son's life but shaping generations to come. God bless you.

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