Thursday, March 15, 2012

DNA is the Least of Which Makes Us a Family.

Our Sweet Son.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes a family.  In some ways explaining how babies are made is a little easier than explaining how families are made these days.  The basic principle of how to make a baby is the same.  Somewhere along the line, a sperm and an egg have to meet up and do their thing.  Babymaking 101.  But families....well, that’s a different story.  
DNA is the least of which makes us a family.   It took a long time for me to understand that.  Truth be told, I was worried that I didn’t have the capacity for the kind of love that I thought should accompany motherhood, and I was afraid that if there wasn’t a blood connection, that I might not be capable of developing that level of love for a child.  That's a story for another time.  Of course, I was wrong.  Sometimes you think you should feel great love for someone or something that doesn’t exist yet, and that should precede it.  But, I’ve learned that sometimes (and probably more often than not) being thrown into the fire is what brings on those feelings.  If we waited to feel love, or to feel adequate, before we did something, we would never do anything.

An original poem/print of mine expressing this very thought.
So what makes a family?  It’s a question adoptive families are really forced to conscientiously analyze and draw their own conclusions.  As I was reviewing the definition of “family”, I was interested to see that the word originated from the Latin “famulus”, which means “servant”.  At first I thought that was a little odd, but think about it.  Don’t we love the things most which required the most effort on our part?  Don’t we value a degree for which we worked our tail off more than anything that was just handed to us?  I think we love our kids so much because we put so much into them, because we serve them so often.  By the time a child is born, so many sacrifices have already been made.  They literally feed off their biological mother’s body for nine months before arriving into mortality through a most difficult birthing process that takes so much out of that mother.  And if you adopt, you know that lots of work and sweat and tears and waiting went into the process long before you take that beautiful child home.  It might not have been as physically painful, but trust me when I say it was long and tedious and taxing in its own way.  And as these children grow, we serve them every day in so many ways.  Sometimes we see “service” as a negative.  It did, after all, derive from the word for “slavery”.  But I think service brings us greater joy than we give it credit for.

So, is it servitude that makes a family?  In some ways, I think it is.  But, not in a bad way.  What I really think, though, is that it is the commitment that we willingly pledge to a relationship that creates those bonds.  Covenants make us family.  Ultimately, I say that the ones who treat you like family are your family.  There are many people to which we have blood ties that don’t treat us like family.  And there are many people to which we have no familial DNA connection that love and serve us unconditionally as family should.  They become our family through an adoption of sorts, and we love them as much as we have the capacity to love anyone.  My husband and I are the ones who made the commitment to D in front of God and country, signing the paper saying that we will take him as our own.  We are the ones who carried him home and fed and bathed him and took him to the doctor when he was sick.  We are the ones who cuddled and nurtured him when he was so incredibly small and helpless.  We are the ones who wake up with him in the middle of the night when he’s upset and dry the tears and pat him back to sleep.  We are the ones who taught him how to ride his little bike and fly a kite and how to make pancakes.   We are the ones who teach him words and laugh at the funny things he does and take him to the library and the zoo and the park and to the airport just to sit and watch the planes come and go.  We are the ones who lie awake at night praying for his safety, and praying to know how we can be better parents and guide him down a path that will bring him the most joy.  I am his mother.  John is his father.  He is our son.  We are family.  We serve each other like family.  We treat each other like family, and therefore, we are a family.

No comments:

Post a Comment