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Blood Ties and Acts of Love

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  • Sunny Jo
    December 4, 2007, 6:05 pm Blood Ties and Acts of Love By Hollee McGinnis As I look at my ever-growing and protruding belly, I find myself fascinated by the
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 5, 2007
      December 4, 2007, 6:05 pm
      Blood Ties and Acts of Love
      By Hollee McGinnis

      As I look at my ever-growing and protruding belly, I find myself
      fascinated by the biological processes at play: sperm, egg, and a
      baby being made. I imagine that any woman experiencing this process
      for the first time would find it, as I do, an exciting but
      mystifying and often uncomfortable journey. In my own first three
      months I wondered, Why does anyone go through this?
      As an adopted person my context for the way babies come into the
      world is through adoption, not birth. Of course I understand birth,
      but that is not the way I came into my family. I did not grow up
      knowing the people who gave birth to me. But I do not doubt the
      labor my adoptive parents went through to get me. It consisted of
      mounds of paperwork and home studies that stretched over two years.
      I thank God pregnancy is just 9 months.
      In anticipating the birth of my child, I feel like an explorer
      getting ready to delve into a foreign land that is also somehow
      familiar. I did not grow up in the culture of blood; I grew up in
      the culture of adoption. The ties that bind me to my family are not
      based in biology. They are based in relationship.
      But for the first time, I and my husband -– who happens to also be
      adopted from South Korea -– will, through our child, know what it is
      to be connected with someone who also shares our genes. And I must
      admit there is something delicious about finally being a part of the
      But it could get complicated. Like when we have to make a family
      tree. And have to explain how our little Korean child came from
      Irish, German, English and Italian ancestry. Although our child will
      look at our faces and will see familiar curves and lines, the
      extended family will not look as familiar. And so we will have to
      explain our adoption so our child can understand why grandma has
      blond hair and grandpa has blue eyes and we don't.
      Part of the legacy we will also give our child is the loss of
      genetic ancestry. We will have to explain why mommy and daddy did
      not grow up with the parents who gave birth to them and why we got
      new families. And even though I have met my birth family, I do not
      know the family history. And knowing the history is not just knowing
      one's genes, it's knowing the stories going back generations.
      Even though I hope to someday bring our child to Korea to meet
      extended biological kin, my husband and I cannot provide all of the
      skills needed to be effective in that culture. We don't speak Korean
      in the home; nor do we cook Korean food regularly. Although we have
      become very knowledgeable about Korean culture and have connections
      to the Korean-American community, I wonder about our ability to
      nurture our child's racial and cultural identity.
      I am relieved, though, that my child will not have to answer the
      question "Why were you born?" the way I had to answer the
      question, "Why were you adopted?" I am glad that my child will not
      be told by well-meaning strangers he or she is "lucky" to have been
      born. And I certainly won't tell my child to be grateful because I
      brought them into the world. And if my child feels any gratitude
      toward me I hope it is because I earned it.
      It will be important to remind ourselves that it is because of our
      own needs, not theirs, that we bring children into our lives to
      parent. Being able to have the gift of a child born to me allows me
      to reconnect to that which I had lost as a consequence of adoption.
      But I also know that to also have the gift of a child adopted by me
      would allow me to continue the culture I most understand — the
      culture of adoption.
      I anticipate that generations and generations after me will slowly
      erase my history. They will most likely forget that their great-
      great-great grandmother had to learn to be Korean. That she came to
      America at 3 and a half years old in a little red pant suit and
      vest, and white sweater trimmed in red. That she cried to return to
      her motherland. And that the mothershe loved had blond hair and the
      father she loved was an Irishman. Ultimately I want generations
      after me to know this about the culture of blood and the culture of
      adoption: That blood is thicker than water, but love can be thicker
      than blood.

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