Monday, December 12, 2011

We Are Family

I got a phone call this morning from an older relative of my husband while he was out hunting with the dogs. She confused the heck out of me by asking me if I knew the name and phone number of the girl that my husband's aunt had adopted. Very quickly a number of questions swirled around in my head.

My husband's aunt had adopted a girl? When did that happened and why hadn't I been told about? Was it one of those overseas adoptions where you send money to help support a child and her village?

Then I knew, and ask if she was talking about my husband's cousin. Yes, she was, and she had confused me because I never thought of my husband's cousin as being his adopted cousin. She was just his cousin, the person who was the daughter of his mother's sister. His cousin, the one getting taller each year along with her brother, my husband, his sister and his brother in the family Christmas photos. His cousin, the one he played with each summer when he was a child and went out to Kansas to stay with their grandparents.

The fact that she saw my husband's cousin as not really a part of the family disappointed me but did not surprise me as this seems to be the thinking of  many people of that generation. I run into older people in town who will always identify someone as being a person's adopted son or daughter instead of just describing them as being that person's child. When I first moved here I heard a story about a man who was dying and wanted to keep his money " in the family." He decided the best way to do this was to ask his adopted children marry each other.

Then you have my niece whose parents may have divorced and married other people but still understands what family means. At her mother's wedding I stood next to her stepmother as my niece gave a toast to her mother and her new stepfather. She ended her toast by saying she already had two mothers and now she had two fathers. Her stepmother started to applaud along with the rest of us and then stopped and gasped. She teared up and said, "I just realized, she's talking about me!"

German philosopher Johann Schiller once wrote, "It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons." It is also not flesh and blood but what is in our hearts that makes us family.


Ally Bean said...

I've run into that attitude about the adopted child before.  Like you, I figure if you're in the family, you're part of the family.  I don't know what prompts someone to make that kind of distinction.  But I guess that they need to, because they do.

la peregrina said...

<span> ....I guess that they need to, because they do.</span>

A very Zen like statement.  I like it. :)