What’s a family?

family

Nani and Lilo from Lilo and Stitch claim it’s Ohana. “Ohana means nobody gets left behind (or forgotten).” Bob Belcher from Bob’s Burgers blatantly says “You’re my family and I love you, but you’re all terrible.” The entire plot of The Fox and the Hound teaches you that family is those who raise you, take care of you, and love you. Charlotte’s Web would have you think that family is those around you that you learn to love in the good and bad times. The rap group Outlawz makes the statement, “All family, no friends”, inferring that their company of friends is their family.

The point I’m trying to make is family means something different to everyone.

To me, my family is the loving, caring, well-intentioned couple that took care of me when my biological parents didn’t want me. See, I was adopted at 3 months old. My family is the second baby girl that this couple adopted when I was almost four years old, my sister. My family is my parents sisters and brothers, who eagerly stepped in to wear the shoes of my aunts and uncles. My family is their parents who gladly accepted the role of my grandparents. My family is the group of people who welcomed me into their lives, providing all the support a child could need, without question.

My family is the group of people who knew my circumstance, who knew where I came from, who took the opportunity to give me a better situation and ran with it. Because they wanted to love me when anybody else in the world could, but wouldn’t.

You may be reading this, thinking that I’m being too tough on my biological parents. I implore you, then, to look deep inside yourself, and ask yourself how you would feel in my situation. If you don’t feel a steady ache of despair or desolation, you haven’t looked deep enough yet.

Let’s start here.

Before you say “Oh, she probably did want you, sweetheart!”, I found my biological mother (who I will refer to as BM) on Facebook who then gave me contact information on my biological father. I have spoken to both of them a few times each via video chat on Skype, and via text and phone call. Through over a year of virtual contact and lots of unpleasant conversations, I can confirm, in fact, that she did not want me. (She wanted her other four children born before and after me, but she did not want me.) On the other hand, my biological father has had multiple health issues, one after the other and isn’t even fit to take care of himself, much less me, though I feel the same sense of resentment towards him- I can’t imagine him trying to raise an infant when he has to live with his mother because his health is so bad.

Uncomfortable yet? No? Cool, let’s keep looking.

Before you say “Of course she loved you, she didn’t abort!” I will never advocate for abortion being “the easy way out.” If you believe this, please leave my blog and do not return. Anyway, BM spoon fed me a story of how her living situations were not ideal and the man she was seeing was threatening her life (and my life), but she stayed because he was paying her bills and giving her a roof over her head. To which I say, she should have aborted, for her own safety. Instead, she gave me up. Instead she married this man and gave him a family: a home, a dog, three happy (or so she says) children, and a lifetime.

Did you feel that prod? We’re almost there.

Tell me how you would feel being born the middle child, two years after the oldest, 11 months before the third (and not last) born. Tell me how you would feel being the only child not kept. Tell me how you would feel being the only child who’s photographs aren’t proudly displayed and sent to update far away relatives. Tell me how you would feel being the only child who doesn’t get a phone call or even a message on social media to be told Happy Birthday, thanks for being born and surviving another year.  Tell me how you would feel being the only child who was supposed to be a secret. Tell me how you would feel being introduced to your half-sister over Skype as “mom’s friend from Florida.”. Tell me how you would feel being the child that was in foster care for the first few months of existence because the woman who birthed you didn’t check up on you and make sure your real parents had received you.

Feeling uneasy? Good. Try living through years of this.

I’ve had the conversations. I’ve asked the tough questions. I’ve heard the stories of clashing and conflicting plots, passing blame along to whoever wasn’t around to defend themselves. Frankly, politely, compassionately, I cant help but be done with these strangers.

Upset should be knocking right about now. Can you relate yet?

So I ask again: what’s a family? A strong network of mental and emotional bonds there to save you when you can’t save yourself. My family is a large group of amazing, infuriating, devoted, inspiring individuals who I quite literally owe my existence to. I love you mom, dad, and sister; my family.

Oh, and my cat. He’s family too.

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