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?