Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Over 40 years ago, a girl from the north side of St. Louis met a boy from the south side of St. Louis. The rest of their story is hazy. After all, every story has three sides, as they say: her side, his side, and the truth. But the result or the consequence of the affair that followed their meeting, was me.

I was born into unreal circumstances with an uncertain future. But six weeks later, I met my mom and dad. They adopted me, took me home, and committed to raise me as their own. And they did.

Being adopted is a blessing and a curse and someday I will fully capture it all in a wildly successful book that you can all buy and read. The blessings and curses both are too numerous to mention in a short blog. And unless you are actually adopted, you cannot completely understand the experience anyway. But in short, being adopted is not easy. It doesn't have to be tremendously difficult but it is simply not easy. That is not to say that I am not grateful to be adopted because I am. But there is a degree of uncertainty and clearly a lot of unknowns.

As I grew I up, I heard stories about my birth family as told to my parents by the adoption agency but because my family loved me so dearly and because I was surrounded by cousins and a sister and aunts and uncles nearly all the time, I didn't wonder about the people from whom I came. I didn't feel like I was missing anything.

However, over the course of an adopted person's life wonder does eventually creep in and many of us search and find our birth families, as I did. And more often than not, the fairy tale meeting that we imagine does not happen. But what adoption does for you is it changes how you define family, how you see family and how you experience family.

Family, for us, is about finding common ground with people. It is not about sharing the same blood. Family, by necessity, is about making connections and bonding in some way because the bonding experience is stolen from us as babies. And when we make connections... When we call you family... that's a big deal for us.

There is a lot of discussion in the world about the definition of family. From my perspective, we should respect others' definition of family because it is different for everyone. Family, in my life, was not one woman and one man who came together to create a life with 2.5 children and a golden retriever. Growing up, my family was three fathers and three mothers, including my foster family, and a host of other relatives not "related" by blood but "related" nonetheless. As an adult, my family is a combination of those with whom I was raised, just one mom & dad, some members of my birth family who I've been lucky enough to find and get to know a bit and a couple of handfuls of very dear friends.

Sometimes family as defined by others might not make sense to you. And you might not have the ability to imagine family from their perspectives. But it is not for you to argue or disagree with because it's not YOUR family. It is not your experience. 

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