On Being Adopted

Well, I’m back.  Back home, back to work, back to being a wife and puppy-mama while gestating the most adorable fetus I’ve ever personally conceived.  On the outside, I’m doing ok.  I’m getting my work done, I keep the crying in public to a minimum, and I have yet to get lost on the way home because of distraction.  On the inside though?  Not doing so well, which I suspect is perfectly normal.

I’m not sure if getting stuff off your chest is also normal (I’ve never really grieved before) but this is what’s on my mind right now so I guess we’ll all just go with it.  Adoption.  Specifically, the state of being someone who was adopted.

My Dad was not my biological father.  This is not something he or I would ever tell you unless you asked why our last names were different.  He married my mother when I was around three years old, but he met me when I was one and, from what I’ve heard, I was his daughter from the moment he met me.  He never introduced me, Royal Tenenbaum style, as his adopted daughter, and I never qualified him as my step-father.

He simply was my father, and I simply was his daughter.  End of story.

Since he passed, however, a lot of people have gone to a lot of trouble to point out that he adopted me.  Emphasizing that he had two kids, one of which was adopted one of which was not.  Pointing out that my brother is my half-brother (Dude.  I grew up with him.  I met him the day he was born when he was introduced to me as my brother.  We took baths together, fought like wild savages, and walked to school together every day.  He’s my brother, there’s really no point in putting the half in front to qualify it somehow).

The pastor who led my Dad’s memorial service wanted to point the adoption thing out in particular, as he saw Dad’s adoption of me as demonstrative of his capacity for love.  I wish he hadn’t done that.  People who have been adopted, in general, really don’t like having it pointed out that they aren’t related by blood.  There’s a huge stigma in our society, that if you aren’t related biologically you’re somehow a lesser member of the family.

What I’ve learned, however, is that family is determined primarily by relationships.  My Dad treated me like his daughter, I accorded him all the rights (and love, and sloppy macaroni Father’s Day gifts) of a father.  Wes asked for his permission to marry me, he gave me away on my wedding day, he taught me how to cook, and he cheered loudly when I graduated from both high school and college.

I doubt any of the people who have so fastidiously pointed out that we’re not genetically related could differentiate for me how being related by blood would have changed any of that.

So just a word to anyone who reads this: If someone’s adopted, and you’re talking about them or their parents, leave the adopted part out of it.  If the person doesn’t introduce him/herself as the adopted son/daughter of _____, then why not just leave the adopted part out of it?

6 thoughts on “On Being Adopted

  1. Same thing for me, but I was 8 months old. My mom will say the same thing, he was my father from day 1. In school they use to call out my mothers maiden name & I would correct them, it wasn’t until 4th grade that they told me I had a different dad, who I refer to as sperm donar. We wated until I was in 7th grade to adopt, because he wanted me to fully understand the situation.

    I remember being in the judge’s chamber and he asked my father why he wanted to adopt me now. My dad told him that he loved me from the moment he walked around the corner & saw my bright red curls, he looked into my green eyes, and the moment I uttered da-da he knew that I was his & blood didnlt make one bit of difference.

    Growing up, I only remember 2 incidents, to my face, about me not being his blood. One from my grandma, he didn’t talk to her for a year until she apologized to me & him. Then my one step bro, he moved back in after college & was kicked out after that comment.

    Now, I only mention I’m adopted when someone is like, you’re related to them?! You would understand if you had a family like mine, it is large and sadly some are very different when it comes to law, etc.

    The only time I ever think of the sperm donar is when strangers tell me that I look like a twin to this girl a few towns over, my mothers old neighboring town. My dad once told me that my sperm donar is a complete idiot for not wanting to be a part of my life. I only need my father.

  2. -EdgellACE, Seriously, it’s so nice to know other people Get It. I’m really glad you and your dad found each other, and that he sticks up for you to snooty family members :)

  3. What a horrible time for people to be pointing that out!! I totally agree – family is defined by the type of relationships you have and not blood. I know many blood relatives that aren’t as close as it sounds like you and your dad were. I hope you’re doing okay!

  4. -Belle, Thanks lady! I’m doing, well, I guess as ok as can reasonably be expected. Thanks for asking :)

  5. I’m really sorry for everything that you are going through.
    And you know what? I appreciate this post. I don’t think I would have ever said something like that – I am a step child and cringe when I am introduced as such since my step father is “my dad” – but it is always good to put these kind of things out there. Maybe people don’t realize what they are actually saying, you know?

    Hang in there.

  6. -Jen, Thank you, I’m so glad you appreciated this post. That’s kinda what I’ve been hoping, that people don’t know how it affects others when they point this kinda stuff out. I’m giving people the benefit of the doubt that they’re not being malicious about it, but I still think it’s helpful to know how those kinds of comments feel.

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