Officially Oplingers

Monday morning found us in a courtroom with people we love, as Sylvie became an official member of the family. The judge was delightful, the sheriff wondered how we all fit together, and we were all smiles. To be fair, we have to be confusing to witness! We left late, Poppi’s glasses broke, and none of it mattered. This amazing family of ours, branches of so many family trees twined together, is strong, flexible, and has grown in such unpredictable ways.

We got a quick visit with Tess’ family Sunday night, and the juxtaposition of the oldest relationship with the newest was fascinating. They’re family. We laughed about similarities between Tess and her mom, talked about her great-grandma’s best friend and my grandma, celebrated an Austrian first grade tradition and zipped back to Milwaukee to get Tess in bed.

And today, we merged with another family. We may not know each other yet, but Sylvie’s people are out there in the world, with her sparkly eyes, open heart and delight in carbs! We’re past worrying about open adoption “rules” and are enjoying the beauty of loving these kids together with all of their people – and we have people in spades.

I’m delighted at how untraditional the family unit has become. And I’ve trained myself not to ask the obvious questions, unless it’s a pertinent one. We’re spoiled – we don’t get asked the insulting questions very often, and there’s enough complexity to the families around us that no one’s astounded by our unusual constellation. So we live our life, just like everyone else. We may not “match” but our kids are siblings through and through. And as unpredictable as our family is, a horse is a horse.

So we stood before the judge, sworn in and not quite solemn (Remy kept offering to testify and the judge was sticking his tongue out at the baby), and pledged our lives and love to the this baby. She already had both. When asked whether they were ready for Sylvie to join the gang, the kids gave thumbs up with big smiles. And Sylvie’s godparents took pictures and enjoyed the moment with us. Tess declared the petition approved, with Lilou echoing every syllable and the boys banging the gavel. And in 20 minutes, we became seven. (Or 9, or 100! It depends how far out we’re going.)

Adoption isn’t simple, and finalization means a permanent change in a child’s family. That’s not a joyful celebration, but it is a moment of love and commitment. We’re honored to welcome her into our family, and wildly in love with her just like the kids. Now, time to protect her! Because she just figured out how to pull herself to standing.

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