In business classes, we're cautioned about mixing personal and professional interests. We'll inevitably step on someone's toes, at some point, and that's bad for business. My business is too new for me to say, "I don't care," but here it is: I don't care.
November is National Adoption Month. I come from a very blended family. My paternal uncle is adopted, my grandparents helped raise me and my brother until my father remarried (it takes a village!), said marriage giving us a great step-family, and I can't count the number of "uncles" I had growing up in the military. The holidays were a blast.
I had the opportunity to share this with a class while attending UW-Green Bay. The assignment was to present our respective heritage. I could sum it up with "military & geek culture", but that wouldn't fly. I went over the usual stuff, proclaiming what a typical American mutt I am, but the two most important factors were my military and step family. Nobody in either of these camps had any obligation in my upbringing, but they were there, they're part of who I am, and I can't imagine my life any other way.
Following my presentation, a classmate caught up with me after class. Her boyfriend had two children from a previous relationship, and she wanted to hear more about what it's like being a step-child. We chatted for a bit, and my answer to her final question sums up the experience for me.
Q: Do you get along with her?
A: She's my mom. We have our ups & downs, but she's my mom.
I could have said, "Oh, yeah! We're like this!" and done the little finger-linking thing, but that would have fallen short of the truth. I wouldn't risk providing any false hope or horror, and the military provides a special form of strife to add to the teenage years. And you know what? My friends had similar issues with their own families; biological, military, or other.
I don't have the 1950's, white-picket fence, 2.5(point five...?) children image of what makes a family. That certainly isn't what my family ever looked like, and I won't tolerate any insult to my mom insisting that "it isn't the same" unless I bear the child myself. I don't know if I'll have 2 children or 5, but I don't plan on taking 9 months out to make one. If it happens, my husband and I will be happy, and we'll be especially curious as to what sort of creature our genetics will create, but this isn't a prerequisite for family. For all we know, our first child might be waiting for us as I type this blog. Learn about adoption and foster care:
- How to Foster
NationalAdoptionDay.org (November 23rd)