Yep. Someone asked me that promptly after our being introduced. The question didn’t offend me in the moment, but it really did startle me as folks aren’t usually that forward in the South (come to find out she was just visiting relatives in our small town and not from the South at all) and certainly not where we live. And it also worried me as I would hate for the question to be asked again at a time when baby can understand what’s being asked because it insinuates something about family that I don’t believe.
I grew up with very little literal family around me. All of our relatives were back in Puerto Rico as my nuclear family made its way through the ebbs and flow of our lives here. And so family, out of necessity, cultural norms, and personal values, to me became not just a literal definition of blood relative but a figurative definition as well– the people who fill up your heart because they care infinitely about you, they get you, they love you in spite of yourself and the people you give that same grace back to in turn.
Although we flew over to meet baby and bring him home, I don’t think about that part of our story as “getting” baby. Because we came together with baby so serendiptiously, so divinely, baby coming into our family, to me, is like my niece or nephew coming into my sister’s family. My niece and nephew were clearly the children my sister and brother-in-law were meant to have. They didn’t just “get” these babies. And our baby is clearly the baby we were meant to have. We didn’t just “get” him. And while we will be open with baby about his adoption– which is a singular event in our lives and not his status (it has driven me insane for the last 10 years or more when a newspaper article refers to a child as someone’s adopted son or daughter when the article has nothing to do with adoption at all)– the feelings we have about how our family came together is that this child was meant to be part of our family.
Getting is such an arbitrary thought when it comes to family, so happenstance, so casual. It’s not how families come together. It’s not how they stay. It is an oversimplication of life, a stripping down of something rich, a negating of our truth.