Fifteen years ago on December 13th my parents signed a piece of paper in a dank room that had been decorated circa 1978. That signature changed the life of my family forever. I've had a brother ever since.
Adoption isn't something new in my father's family. Each generation, for several generations back, someone was adopted. The family tree is so watered down in blood, it's nigh impossible to discern the ancestry of any of the men on that side of the family (apparently adoption of men is more common than adoption of women, at least in my family). When I was a child, I resented this. I held the axiom "blood is thicker than water" true. I wanted to learn all about my blood relatives. It seemed to be of the utmost importance to disinter my family history. My grandfather became my step-grandfather, even though I had called him "Pap" all my life. I didn't care about the mixed up world of his family. I wanted only to learn about the mysterious history of my Southern Ivory tower blood.
Now I know better. Blood is thin. Don't get me wrong. I shouldn't discount my long lost blood relatives. Apparently both my father and myself have some habits that my blood grandfather practiced. There are some things that cannot be taught. They are an inheritance of sorts which cannot be stolen no matter how determined the thief. But the fact of the matter is, that no matter how angry I may have been that day twenty years ago, today I feel very differently. I don't know where I would be without my brother. Who could I swap stories with about our quirky parents? Our silly extended family? Who else would have my back no matter what? Who else could I talk to about family things when they are delicate and I'm not sure how to tackle them? My brother.
Today I spent an entire day with my brother. We sang loudly over the warbles of divas and pop artists as we made the trip from Buellton to Santa Barbara and back. I thought once upon a time we would have ripped each other's throat out, and now we can laugh about these things.
I love my brother. He's young, but he's growing up, and I know he is a good man and will only become a better man as he ages. I think of the decision my parents made long ago to become foster parents and I applaud them. There aren't enough foster parents in the world to help kids like my brother. He could have so easily had a different life, but God brought him to our family. We did more that shelter and feed him, we loved him and he became a son and a brother. It's not easy to be a foster parent or a sibling. I know this first hand. But it's not easy to be a foster kid, lost in the system, subjected to the cruel twists of fate. Isn't it a blessing there are families out there where adoption is a part of their history? Where it is expected and cherished?
Christian and I have talked about fostering and parenting many times. In the end, we come to the same conclusion every time. Even though it is hard, it is a good thing to do. When we're settled and well established, we fully intend to become foster parents. We expect to adopt at some point. Yes, it's a hard thing to do. But isn't everything that is worthwhile?