Monday, February 11, 2013

Love is Thicker Than Blood

“Blood is thicker than water.” We've all heard it. This German proverb is meant to explain that the bonds of family are stronger than those you make with others. But what if you’re not blood related to those you’re supposed to be most closely connected to? Does that mean you don’t apply? That you don’t get it? That the strength of your feelings just isn’t strong enough?

I have been struggling for the past few weeks to write this post. I have so much to talk about when it comes to adoption that I have a hard time narrowing it down to one subject. It also doesn’t help that I’ve been incredibly distracted. My grandmother passed away on January 26, and I spent a lot of time in my hometown before and after her death. Returning to my life here with my husband and friends and picking up where I left off has proven quite difficult.
My grandmother, Louise, was 92 years old. She saw the Great Depression, World War II (and every war since), and watched women and African Americans fight for and gain equal rights. She had a wonderful husband and two children, four grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. “I’ve had a really great life,” she always told us, and she had.

I spent most of the day in the hospital with my grandma and mom the day after she was admitted. Her congestive heart failure was reaching a point that we knew she wouldn’t be with us much longer. When my uncle showed up to stay with her for the night, I drove Mom home to sleep a bit before coming back. She told me stories the entire drive.

“When Daddy (my grandfather) was at this hospital recovering from heart surgery, Momma (my grandmother) went down to the cafeteria to get something to eat and ran into this little lady who was knitting and surrounded by all of these little baby clothes. Momma was so curious that she asked, 'Who are you making all of these clothes for?' The lady said, 'Oh, I’m making them for the babies who are adopted from the Godparent Home!' This just set her on fire! We were still trying unsuccessfully, and as soon as she told us about the Godparent Home, we put in an application. She was just so excited about all of those baby clothes and knew we wanted a baby so bad.”

This was only the first time my or my brother’s adoption was mentioned that week. Sadly, the way it was brought up to my brother wasn't in such a sweet, commemorative way. A person who came through the receiving line at the funeral home on family night introduced herself to my brother by asking, “Are you one of the adopted ones?” (Seriously!? How insensitive and rude! Some people…)

People bring up adoption in the most random ways. Our family usually only brings it up to highlight special memories, such as the little knitting lady unknowingly leading my parents to the place from which they'd adopt. Some people bring it up because of curiosity, like the woman who so rudely “introduced” herself to my brother during such a difficult occasion. The third time adoption was brought up that week was to me again; this time by the type of person who doesn’t know they’re even touching upon the subject. This is the most common way that adoption pops up in daily life.

After the graveside service I rose to walk from beneath the tent and was immediately surrounded by relatives, friends, and members of our church’s congregation. Hugs came from all directions, followed by supportive and loving comments to me about my grandmother. One lady from church held on and wouldn't let go.

“She was such a sweet woman. You will have so many wonderful memories! 92 years is a long, long life of good memories,” she said consoling me. She then tried to lighten the conversation by joking, “Well, you have good genes then! I hope you can look forward to 90+ years with hardly any health problems. Good genes!”

I smiled and nodded; this wasn't my first rodeo. In the few seconds of a conversation like this, it’s amazing how quickly your mind can run through so many thoughts before you even need to respond: "She doesn't know. How long has she known me? Just be nice and play along. Great genes; agree with her that you have great genes." 

“Yes, great genes! I keep teasing Mom that now I’ll have to put up with her until she’s 90!” She laughed, hugged me, and left me to greet others.

I may not have Louise’s genes, but she showered me with love from day one. She and my grandfather, my other grandmother, my Mom and Dad, my brother, uncles, aunts, cousins… they all have loved and do love me so much. There has never been a day that I have not been a part of that family. The one thing I want adoptive parents to know is that blood may be thicker than water, but love is thicker than blood.

Emily is a 26-year-old adoptee, wife, graphic designer, and blogger. She has started a fairly new blog to write about her life as an adoptee, Finding Tristen Kay, and blogs personally at Em Busy Living.


  1. What a great post. Amazing how the whole issue of adoption can jump out and grab someone in unexpected ways. Useful to know for when we adopt - good things to look out for. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks so much, Emily. I'm sure I've said inappropriate or awkward things to people in the past. Sharing your story from your perspective makes us all more aware of how our words impact people. And as adoptive parents, it gives us a window into the world of our adopted kids. Thank you so much for being willing to share your story.

    I just went over to your adoption blog and did some reading. Thanks so much for putting my blog button over there and sending some blog traffic my way. Can't wait to read more of your story.


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