For thirty-eight years, I’ve looked at family photos, and I feel a bit disconnected because I couldn’t learn from which parent I inherited my eye color, or my hair color, or my height. Being adopted does that after all. Any resemblence to known (read: adoptive) family is purely coincidental. Until March of this year, I lived my entire life with no known genetic family members. No one really “looks” like me, and there’s really no reason why they would. Chance similarities exist, such as my brother and my shared blonde-haired childhood/brown-haired adulthood and our blue eyes (his are true sky blue, mine are grey).
Because I’m adopted, family to me is a matter of choice. No genetic relations have had any higher importance, so anyone I consider family simply is. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons losses of friendships hurt me so much… in many ways, I don’t think I divide family from close friendships simply because there really is no difference to me. The idea of “blood is thicker than water” simply has never applied. I accepted that my family looked like all of those families on TV – random people collected together through fate and/or chance… and they figure out a way to develop those tight bonds that families are supposed to have. For the most part, I think my family’s done pretty well at that. We have our ups and downs like any family… but I think we succeed more than we fail.
But now, I look at Max and I see hints of me in there – the grey-blue eyes, the blond hair, the tipped baby ears. And I realize that instead of the chance similarities like my brother and I sharing blue eyes and blonde hair, the similarities between Max and me are not a coincidence – they exist because we have a genetic bond. And that’s such a strange thing. I honestly still can’t wrap my head around the idea that he’s related to me.
Not just through the bonds of parent and child – but really, truly related to me. I helped create him.
For the first time in my life, I have a blood relative.
My concept of family just got a bit more complex.