Adopting Amelia

from Brian – Leah is adopting Amelia, my daughter, next week, formally filling a role in my daughter’s life that she has held for a decade.

In one week from today I will be adopting my stepdaughter.

I have long ago transitioned from “step mom” to “mom,” but in one week that transition becomes legal. While I am beyond the moon excited and thrilled, it also comes with extreme sadness.

Sadness because the role that I am occupying was not supposed to be mine; I need to always remember this so that my daughter remembers this as well.

Why does she need to remember this? Because one day what happened will not hurt as much as it does now, and she will need to remember where she comes from. Her memory will answer some questions, her father and I others, and her grandparents even more.

Perhaps one day she will even once again see the person whose role I have taken in the final step to help healing.

✡ ✡ ✡

It has been a very long and hard 12 years. A stepfamily is hard on everyone. I often feel that as the stepmother I had it worse than everyone and was going to write a piece about how hard it is being the stepmother.

However, I realized that everyone in a stepfamily has a rough time. The bio-parent is dealing with missing their kid and trying to keep everyone happy. The kids worry about their parents, try to find security, and try to understand what is going on around them.

Extended family worry about their place and stepping on toes.

Perhaps one day I will write why I believe being a stepmother is hardest of all, but not today and not one week from today. Next week is not about me, it is all about my daughter: what she is losing and what she is gaining. What I hope she is gaining is comfort, security, peace and love.

The Talmud tells us that when we raise or adopt children it is like we gave birth to them. I know I did not give birth to Amelia but our connection is no different.

However, I would be fooling myself to think that she does not realize what she is losing. Even though right now she is angry and hurt, even though right now this is what she wants and needs, and even though right now the thought of this not happening makes her extremely upset, I know that one day she will feel it all. And I will be there to hold her as she cries through it.

Because I have always been there and always will be, and in one week I have a paper that says so.


Leah is Director of Education for Congregation Beth Israel in Bangor, Maine. She's a special educator, former school director for Manheim Central School District in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and mother to Amelia and Nezzie. She's usually tolerant of her husband, Brian.

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About Brian

Brian Kresge

Brian Kresge

Writer, President of Bangor's Congregation Beth Israel, soldier, programmer, father, musician, Heeb, living in the woods of Maine with three ladies and a dog.

About Leah

Leah Kresge

Leah Kresge

Director of Education for Congregation Beth Israel in Bangor, Maine, special educator and former school board member, mother to Amelia and Nezzie.

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