1000 families project alex, ryan, story and mason

1,000 Families Project:
Alex, Ryan, Story and Mason

How this mom’s journey to learn her own adoption story has shaped her view of what it means to be a family.

Growing up, I would sit next to my mother in front of the mirror, cupping our chins and pressing my face to hers saying, “Same, Mommy?” I was looking for some similarity, some physical connection, some way to unquestionably bind her to me. You see, my mother is my mother, but she didn’t give birth to me.

I was adopted at birth, and spent the majority of my life holding that fact to my chest like a precious jewel. I felt special, and very loved, but I also felt a sense of unvoiced disconnection from my family. Although nobody would guess I was adopted (I’m similar enough to my parents that I could be a combination of their DNA), I always wondered whom I looked like, where I came from, and whose personality traits trickled through my genetic code.

In 2013, I rather accidentally stumbled onto the thread that would unravel my biological secrets. I’ve now met a first cousin, a full sister and my birth mother. It’s surreal having genetic relatives after nearly 40 years of wondering. What I now know without a doubt is that blood is not always thicker than water. I discovered that a shared genetic history does not necessarily equal a strong emotional bond.

Finding the pieces of my genetic puzzle certainly answered some questions for me, but it did not give me the sense of family I had wondered about. Instead, it drew me closer to the family I have, making me realize that sometimes nurture really does take precedence over nature.

In retrospect, it’s obvious my adoption played a much greater role in how I developed, and how I entered marriage and motherhood than what I ever realized. Family is not formed by shared blood or genetics.

My husband is also an only child, my father has no siblings, my mother has just one, and I have only two first cousins. We are a small family, but I am absolutely overflowing with love for those who have become family to us. I have aunts and uncles who, although not technically related, are most definitely my people. I have always had close friends, and people in my life that are like family; they are my family, without a doubt. Our web of support is far-reaching, and not bound by traditional familial definitions. Those who come into our lives are welcomed as family, too.

Ryan and I also have children of our own now: two kids who resemble both him and me. I finally get to cup my children’s chins in my hands and look into a mirror and see sameness. It is incredible to behold, of course, but I realize now that it isn’t this physical similarity that binds us.

In the end, it’s just love that makes a family.
Photo: In Bloom Photos

This is #1000families post number 114. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.

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Alex Durrell

About Alex Durrell

Alex Durrell is an aspiring novelist, a freelance writer, she's the allergy writer behind the Yummy Mummy Club blog "Irritated by Allergies" and she does in fact blog at IDontBlog.ca. She loves a good vintage find, adores creative DIY projects, and spends most of her time heavily caffeinated. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Or on her couch, book in hand. View all posts by