Everybody Creates This Family

by Luanne

I had a brainstorm in the shower.  After I got out, I scrambled for a pen and couldn’t find one.  So now, hours later, as I sit down to write this post, I am sorting through my thoughts to find the right words to express what occurred to me.  I’ve written and deleted close to ten first sentences.  What is it I want to say?  Let me see if I can explain.

In the past, I’ve considered the two families that go into the history/life/essence of a person who was adopted.  Both families contribute to who the person grows up to be.

English: Nature vs. Nurture

English: Nature vs. Nurture (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Based on individual stories we are all inclined to put an emphasis more strongly on nature or nurture for certain traits.  But there is no doubt that both families contribute to who that person is “today.”

With my own kids, their love of animals and general outlook on the world around them was influenced by hubby and me.  My son’s friends say that he sometimes stands, holds his body, and talks like my husband.

Both my son’s and daughter’s outgoing personalities must be genetically predetermined—something that they got from one or both birth parents.

It’s not only the question of nature versus nurture.  In the case of an older child who has lived with birth family, there is even more influence of that family on the child.

Even in the case of children who were adopted as infants, the family of origin has other connections, outside of genes. For example, that it was my husband and I who adopted our kids was because of what occurred in the lives of their birth mothers, all of which triggered a chain of events which culminated in their adoptions into our family.  Of course, that’s true about the chain of events in our lives which led to it, also.

But there is something limited about this thinking.  We always talk about a child being adopted into a family or by a family as if the family is some finite, specific unit which expands for that child and changes that child forever.

What we forget is that the family is an adaptive entity, which itself is created by all the family members.  A child who was adopted has just as much impact on the nature of the family, on what that family becomes, as any other family member—mother and father included.

Every child that enters a family changes that family into a new “being.”

While this difference might seem slight, it shifts my view of everything about adoption, as if the camera filter was changed.  I think it gives adoptees more control of their own subjectivity and more power.

In the case of my family, I am a different person (than I would have been) because I am the mother of my children.  All the specificities that make up my kids are now things that are important to me: their interests, their health and illnesses, their country of origin, and their identities as adoptees.

Probably every parent, even if his or her children are biological, has a notion of this aspect of parenting.   Nevertheless, for some reason, the discussions and language surrounding families by adoption doesn’t take this understanding into account.

And it’s not just about who each one of the four of us is today.  It’s about who our family is.  We’ve all shared equally in creating this family, and I’m so happy we have.

Maybe this is the way you’ve always thought about family.  Maybe I have, too, but I didn’t realize it until this one particular shower.


  1. Love it – and it is so true. We grow and change together, and that is what makes a family.

  2. Beautifully described process of family alchemy. Thanks for sharing your personal thoughts, Luanne. Your insights are lovely!

  3. Lisa Ercolano says:

    Perfect and thought provoking! Thanks for posting.

  4. Really lovely post. For me, my son’s arrival into our lives MADE us a family…before we were just a couple. Without adopting him we’d still just be a couple. Of course we have our own families – parents, siblings etc, but OUR family was made by adoption.

    Thanks for sharing such a lovely post with the Weekly Adoption Shout Out x

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