Posted by: emjb | August 10, 2006

Some families are created, not born

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Most of my friends don’t have kids. Nonetheless, one of my oldest friends has added to her family this year. After years of mentoring kids from the poorest neighborhoods of San Antonio, and one girl especially, my friend Christina legally
adopted her; never mind that the “girl” was now 22. Chris had been her defacto mom for years, had seen her through high school and college and endless legal troubles to get her siblings and herself out of an abusive situation. And now they’re legally mom and daughter.

It’s a decision that seems a little unusual, unless you can imagine yourself as a 22 year old, right out of college, with no parents to talk to. No one to take care of you when you’re sick, help you move, help you make big decisions, be there to cry for you on your wedding day, buy you birthday gifts, be a grandma to your kids. I lost my father when I was 20, and if I had lost my mother too, my life since then would have been so much harder and lonelier. I’m 35, and I still lean on her strength.

We don’t stop growing up when we hit 18; the older we get, in fact, the more we value our parents’ help and understanding. And for Christina’s new daughter, a girl who didn’t get much parenting in her childhood, there’s a lot to be said for getting all she can now.

And for my friend Christina, the adoption papers are just a legal blessing on the caring and love she’s given to her daughter; their real family was already formed years ago, in the bitterness and struggle, in the dark times, the late night phone calls, the social worker visits, the tears outside the courthouse, the struggles to keep up in school, to get out of poverty, to dream. That’s when Christina became a mom. That’s when the real adoption took place. She’s as much of a mom as I’ll ever be, because she was there when it counted. And that’s why I’m proud of them both.

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