Real Family Portraits: A Collection of Short Stories

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real family portraits

By Merrisa Milliner

A pretty, petite little girl with blue eyes and strawberry blonde hair. A mom with fair skin and dark features who frequently gets asked, “Does your daughter favor her father?” and, “Where’d your little girl get that red hair?” A tall, hazel-eyed dad who may look a little more like our child, but not quite the same.

A summer that fluttered in with pink birthday cake and ice cream in celebration of the second anniversary of the day we were called to the hospital to meet the new bundle of joy who had been born that morning, our bundle of joy. A husband and wife who fought hard to build this thing called our family portrait, through the infertility treatments and the miscarriages and the uncertainties of alternatives like adoption. A mother who can never forget that she got that title not only by the grace of God, but also by the grace of another woman.

A lazy season of pool days and beach vacations, paralleled with hard work and tough career decisions. A couple who not only celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary over the summer, but visited a marriage counselor for the first time, because life is hard and marriage is hard and parenting is HARD.

A summer that raged out with Hurricane Harvey dumping 27 trillion gallons of water over the Gulf Coast, where this little family resides in Houston, Texas.

A mom who anxiously packed a small bag and put a lifejacket on her toddler and loaded up into a rescue truck with the family dog to escape the rising water, while dad stayed behind to protect the home front.

A family grateful to reunite a week later in our undamaged house, heartbroken at the loss experienced by so many others and astonished at the human spirit displayed during the disaster.

A mom who tearfully helped strangers less fortunate clean out a little girl’s room inundated with flood waters, all of those precious little girl possessions ruined.

A mom who weeps because she realizes she has it all. She really has it all.

The life swirling around us will never be picture perfect, but our family portrait is.

Merrisa Milliner is a professional freelance writer in Houston, Texas, who also blogs about adoption and her life as a mom at While there are many hurricane relief organizations that need help, you can directly help adoptive and foster families affected by Harvey by making donations to local organizations such as and

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5 thoughts on “Real Family Portraits: A Collection of Short Stories”

  1. Oh sister, I feel for you. Just the other day I had a moment where I couldn’t pull out my big girl words and ended up explaining things to my hubby with kid words… He laughed at me. I said, “What!? I spend all day around young kids. Sometimes it’s hard to revert to an adult vocabulary!” I do have to say though, you feeling like not a person saddens my heart. You are a person, and in the moments when you are feeling the most invisible, that is when you truly shine. Hang in there.


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