Where Blood Line Ends & Family Begins

Sometime ago, I wrote about how society pays lip service to adopted children and parents through adoption being “real” parents or “real” children but how despite making those statements, there are often other subtle nuances that leave parents like me and, I’m sure adopted children, feeling that despite those affirmations, society really does see us as different, as not quite a mother or a father, as not quite a “real” child, as not quite a “real” family.

I’ve been reminded of this a number of times over the past couple of weeks again and each time I’m reminded, I feel as though I’ve been punched in the stomach and had the wind knocked out of me. I really hate that society cannot see my family for what it is – beautiful and perfect in every way. What made us a family may be different but what bonds us as a family is no different than what bonds any other family – unconditional love.

The media play a large part in it, when they publish stories like this one:  Man Guns Down Wife, Adopted Son. Once again differentiating an adopted child from a “real” or biological child. From what I can see, the fact that the man’s son was adopted has no real relevance to the story and the entire thing is based on assumptions. If, for whatever reason, the man did in fact shoot HIS SON because he wanted to find his biological parents, then this should surely just highlight the importance of adoptive parents being counseled properly during the screening process of adoption. The headline should read: Troubled Man Shoots Wife, Son. All that the use of the adoption word does is bring adoption into a negative light and raise questions in people’s minds about whether or not adopted children are “real” children. Once again reaffirming what society believes about adoption, even if on a subconscious level.

I also read a blog from an adult adoptee and now for the life of me, I can’t find the posting, about how she had been disinherited by some of her family because she was adopted and they didn’t want family heirlooms being left to her.

All of this got me thinking about the importance of a bloodline and a family tree. We’re living in the 21st century and for some reason society’s general thought is still that family is only family when there are shared genetics. I know that many would deny this but on a subconscious level people do still think this way and believe this. There are examples of this school of thought everywhere.

Recently I participated in a discussion on Twitter about drawing up a family tree and how the child who’s homework it was, was not allowed to include a separate space for his stepfather. The conversation was interesting and I agreed with it wholly, we as a society need to change the way we view family because families are evolving and changing. There are step parents, there are siblings and half sibling and step siblings. Then the question arose of where an adopted child would fit into that family tree.

Of course my response is that an adopted child would slot into the child block and does not nor should not be differentiated from other blood siblings. Were I to have a biological child would Ava be any less my child? Would she be considered as different or not quite my child? My answer is simple – NO. So why should there be a distinction? Why should she not be entitled to that sense of belonging? Why should she not be entitled to inherit a family heirloom?

Thankfully neither of her grandparents think that way and both of them have had her written into her wills and she stands to inherit from both of them.

But really, in a time where we have blended families, extended families, families through surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation, single parent families, same sex parenting and adoption, surely it’s time that society makes a conscious decision to review all the thoughts and beliefs behind what makes a family?

Image courtesy of Alberta Association Of Marriage & Family Therapy.

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  • Reply alovebeyondmeasure

    Sometime I feel I get impatient with people and thier bladdy labels and assumptions. You would think that in 2012 we could get past some of this stuff. Its an irritation to me.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:41 am
  • Reply blackhuff

    I know exactly who you’re talking about regarding that Family Tree. I had a discussion with my husband regarding that and what make us furious, is the fact that when a school asks/give the paper assignment for the Family Tree, you will not see that they ask that you “only” give the information of your bloodline family. No, they only ask you to give your Family Tree, that’s it.
    We were shocked to have read this on Facebook. Our society have changed so much over the past decades but still you get people who have not and then they hurt our (or our children’s), feelings through their actions.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:20 am
  • Reply TJ

    Sharon, I whole heartedly agree with you! It is time that ‘tradition’ and ‘old-school’ ways of thought and practice be renewed and revived to include ALL people! In fact, we should insist on it.

    Oh, just a thought – The Islam view on adoption is quite interesting too! You may want to take a look at that too? They see adoptive children as not ‘true’ children. That the difference between blood and family is very clear. If I remember correctly it even has bearing on their inheritance.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:01 pm
  • Reply Laura-kim Allmayer

    I hope I never came across as insensitive in my tweet about adopted children. My question was asked specifically with a friend of Cams – he is a little black boy with a lesbian couple as his parents – so clearly no blood line there. So would the teacher have made the same comment to him?

    And I also didnt know that adopted children are seen as “blood” legally and also Ava may not at 8 know yet that she is adopted so she wouldnt know any different but a child like Cams friend can clearly see it – so by the emphasis being placed on “blood family” – surely he would feel left out?

    I am meeting the teacher about this all next week!

    March 24, 2012 at 10:43 am
    • Reply Sharon

      Your tweet was not in the least bit insensitive. But I did find the entire conversation about family tree’s interesting because it really does highlight how we as a society need to review and change how we define family.

      March 24, 2012 at 10:58 am
  • Reply To Love Bella

    Hey love,
    It all boils down to ignorance and tactlessness, I guess. I was SO worried about how Isabella would be ‘accepted’ into our family and friend circle, but needn’t have worried. Honestly.
    And I agree with you re: the family tree! My mom has even gone so far as to change her wishes in her Will to include Isabella. Why not? She is UTTERLY, thoroughly her granddaughter!
    People just don’t get it.

    March 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm
  • Reply Lauren Corcoran

    I am a Grade 1 teacher and last year I found the most beautiful children’s book about different families and how the one thing that they all have in common is unconditional love for each other. I read it to my class and not one child batted an eyelid as I read about children with parents of a different race and children with same-sex parents. Children are so open-minded and accepting, it is very sad to see that being destroyed by adults with narrow views.

    March 29, 2012 at 11:59 am
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