This past weekend, I had the pleasure of reconnecting with relatives I have not seen in decades at a family reunion. The family by whom I was actively raised, and with whom I spent most of childhood, have all passed away, so this experience meant a lot to me. I also inherited a trunk full of photos with the passage of my mother, so I was hoping some of these relatives could help me identify those I don’t know. I arrived early and set up the pictures in anticipation of the conversations to follow.
Throughout the gathering, I saw familiar faces from my childhood and heard many stories about my grandparents, mother, and uncle. Most of the stories revolved around my grandmother, a woman who passed on when I was three but is legendary in the family for her bingo parties, Easter egg hunts, and social gatherings hosting large groups of family and friends. While we only managed to identify a handful of my photos, the nostalgia and memories that were shared filled my heart!
Being adopted at birth, I have always believed we create our own family through love. However, I am coming to understand there is our family of origin, family who adopts us, and family created through friendship by choice. Each has such an important role in our lives! My birth mother could not raise me, so she carried me lovingly to term, and then placed me as a very healthy baby into the care of the state of California for adoption. Since that time, I have been loved and adopted by so many people, and have adopted so many as my own “family”, that this word to me simply represents a deeply loving mutual connection. Whether or not we have anything in common, however much we may inadvertently hurt one another learning and growing through life, a shared history exists through our connection. Together, we can remind each other of our history…the good, the bad, and everything in between. In truth, it is all of that which makes us who we are today. I am deeply grateful to have walked each step of this journey with such a rich tribe I call family!