Sunday, October 23, 2011

Biological Relatedness in my Adoptive Family & What it Meant for us Today

Today is my a-grandmother's 80th birthday (my a-mom's mom).  My mom and some other family members coordinated a huge get-together catered by a hotel where we all stayed yesterday.  By "we all" I mean my grandmother's three kids and spouses, all of their kids and their kids' kids (except for one granddaughter and great-granddaughter who were unable to attend) and some cousins.  My a-dad's brother and his wife, my aunt, were there too as they are friends of the family.  My family was last to arrive at the party; my husband was being super, firefighter, hero man out saving the day somewhere and we left later than we intended to.

Here I stood at this party, an adult with a family of my own who had done some serious work on figuring out who I am.  I also did some serious work embracing that identity.  I looked around, comparing faces, as I have grown so used to doing.

My cousin J and my a-mom look a lot alike.  They have about the same skin tone, the same dark eyes, and the same shiny black hair.  My mom used to wear her hair long and shiny like J does when she was J's age.  Sometimes I wonder if it is their Iroquois roots, the ones they know little about, shining through.

My dad and his brother have the same skin tone, the same nose, the same hair, and the same ears.  They wear similar clothes and glasses.  They both married women who have pale skin and like to wear their black hair in a perm.

The people we have lost in the past two years were there as well, carried in the faces of their relatives.

My cousin J looks like my a-mom but she also looks like her mother who recently passed away.  My uncles look like their father, my grandfather, who died two years ago this past month.  My uncle and my a-dad look just like their father, my grandfather, who passed away maybe 9 months ago.  I loved all of these family members who are no longer with us but yesterday at the party, I felt like they were among us.  I could see them in the faces of every one around me.  That's one awesome thing biology gives to us.

No one ought to feel insulted by me saying something good about biology.  Nature and nurture are not diametrically opposed.  Saying something good about the one should not be seen as an insult to the other.  When I reunited, I was excited to acknowledge that I am someones biological family too.  I carry the genes of my ancestors; you can see them on my face, and according to my aunt, in my hands too.  Where does this leave my a-parents?  You may not see them in my face but I carry their memories and social history; you can hear them in the stories I pass down.

Biology doesn't matter to everyone and that's fine; I am not here to tell them how to think.  But for me, it sure was nice to see my aunt and grandfather's again, even if it was just in the faces of their sons and daughters.

Photo credit: Rawich