As someone who was adopted as a baby, my concept of family has never been about biology or bloodlines.
My parents were the ones who took me to ballet and piano lessons, and helped with homework, and grounded me. My sister (also adopted) and I explored, plotted, argued and laughed together like any siblings.
My mom's mom could trace her lineage back to the Mayflower, but I just knew her as Grandma who kept a drawer of treats in her home for her grandchildren. My dad's dad planned the logistics for the Normandy invasion but to me he was just Grandad who wrote wonderful letters and gave gifts from all over the world.
I grew up looking into the brown eyes of my mother and the blue eyes of my father, and rather than a sense of not looking like my parents, I felt we just all looked like ourselves.
I was lucky – my parents welcomed me as a citizen of the world, a human who came with her own story, her own personality, her own journey. And it established a concept of adoption for me that has always meant a profound compassion and love for birth mothers everywhere, a deep respect for the courage required to send one's child into another life.
Because I have never known any information about my birth family, the story of my adoption, though celebrated with Homecoming and patiently told to me again and again when I demanded, is somewhat of an abstraction. I know, generally, where I'm from; when I was placed into foster care; when I was born. My birthday is a best guess. I know I cried for most of the plane ride from Seoul to the Pacific Northwest. I know that because of my Korean name, Yang Soon, I was nicknamed Monsoon for the copious tears.
I know that when my mother was asked, clumsily, Didn't you miss the nine months of gestation? she replied We waited for TWO YEARS for this child.
So when Corey and I decided to adopt a baby, we decided we wanted to make the process and the relationship as transparent as possible. We decided to adopt domestically. We decided we were open to any race and ethnicity. We decided we were open to a boy or a girl. We decided to be just that – open.
For us, this has meant approaching adoption as a honor bestowed by a young woman who chose us to parent her child. And understanding that her role, as mother, never ends. Corey and I are responsible for another human life – but because this young woman carried a baby in her body for months, worried over its future, endured an agonizing labor, kissed her baby and loves her baby – we intend to follow her graceful lead and make sure this baby always knows who and where he came from.
We adopted a child, consider his birth mom family, and so our hearts are expanding.