Family Circle is Full Circle

At yesterday’s child care family picnic an educator asked a mother when her new baby had “arrived”. The mother responded with a quizzical look on her face, “About six months ago”. The educator looked surprised & stated, “You must have got him young!” “Yes” said the mother with a knowing smile, “Right from when I birthed him”. She smiled & looked at her older adopted son. The educator offered, “You must be a great big brother”.

I smiled to myself at this beautiful, respectful exchange, acknowledging both her children. The biological new baby & adopted older sibling as family & brothers. Contrast this was an experience I had a few weeks ago. A question posed to me caught me off guard. “Are you your father’s real daughter?”

To which I retorted, “If you’re asking if I’m adopted yes, and assure you I am quite real.”

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Really angry & really hurt is what my inside voice was screaming. Instead I heard my nine year old self giving up all my defensive statements in rapid succession. Statements about how about how my voice & my sisters sound alike, how I look like, act & have many habits of my adopted father, and that I can understand the Dutch language. It didn’t matter. The woman who asked wasn’t listening. I am an adult woman & that single question brought back so many questions & vulnerabilities.  All of them difficult & emotional.

That one statement seemed to try to  push me out to of “the circle” – that circle – like a wrestling circle. Step over the line & you’re out. Or like a huddle. If you’re not in it, you’re not part of the team: the Dutch Christian heritage circle.

I have been reflecting & sharing my thoughts with colleagues & friends. They have helped me narrow my thoughts to one essential question “What is family”? My parents & extended family didn’t just pretend to accept, like & love me. They did so to such an extent I wondered if I was adopted.  It was just normal.

What makes up the family circle? Is it blood?  That’s part of it. Over the past few years I’ve connected with my biological family. The pull to know where I came from was strong. Blood is one circle & if you’re lucky, you get to build relationships. It’s more than just sharing genes, they can evolve like the best circles of all; ones that are held together by kinship & love.

Love makes up the family circle. We see all kinds of families at the child care.  Grandparents taking care of little ones because mom’s or dad’s are unable. Children with a single parent filling both roles. Children with both parents in their day to day life.  The common factor all families share – is love. Love.

As educators we must honour & respect the family and their love for each other.  It is not how we are raised or how we come into our family or how we grow into our family’s values & beliefs. It is this: the family circle is the foundation of our society.  We are in duty bound to celebrate it & hold it in the highest of esteem.

One of my greatest joys is seeing my circles growing as I age. I have many circles.  Some of my best friends have become like family because I love them, and now I also love their siblings.  My own family of six has grown to nine, as my three adult children now all have partners, one getting married this fall.

When you get blindsided by a thoughtless question you always think of a great retort later.  I wouldn’t change my answer except to say, “Yes, I am adopted, I am real & love makes my family real”.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. ladyshoshin says:

    You make me so proud that it brings me to tears. How much more real can someone be who was chosen because the hearts of the people who became her parents knew the moment they saw her that she was their forever child. Birth doesn’t make a parent, as you said only love can make a real parent. Only love can make a real family I adore the announcement of your arrival.

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  2. your Dad just read your article..here he is…Sort of being put on the spot. Monday a.. -was in M yesterday,recovering, literary reserves (and others) depleted. “Write somethig nice,Carl”) Love her, though! You and your sister are the living evidence that aopton can “work” and I have thought often about this. Why did ours work so well? Laving aside the most important aspect of the grace ofGod and your mother’s excellent mothering qualities, I think it has much to do with our reasons for adopting. We were young and wanted children! As simple as that.There was no tought of “rescueing some poor little baby” of “giving one a better life”- it was gloriously and wonderfully selfish – in the divine ordained way. God wants us to want to have children. And He gave us two beautiful, in everyaspect, daughters who have been, are and will continue to be a sourceof great joy

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  3. Deb, Sorry, but this went out unfinished and not spell checked. I had written a little more but it has floated of into space. Too bad – but I am clumsy in FB writing.

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  4. Thank you dad and Sylvia. My daughters and I had this exact conversation about the “normal” aspect, and what was the reason for the adoption. Are not all reasons for having children wonderfully selfish? I love that and I love you both. – Deb.

    Liked by 1 person

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