Commentary by Terry Anker
Families are complicated – even when they are not. Most of us have a dad and mom. Well, we all, by the recipe, “must” have at least one of each to get the process started. Once begun, there are any number of combinations that meet the standard. Sometimes, we participated at the origin – the ones that conceived and remained, choosing a mate, marrying and eventually setting our sights on shared parenthood. Others arrange family differently. But all focus, uninterrupted by the machinations of daily living, on delivering into the world one or more fully-formed adult children ready to reproduce that which they have seen modeled at home – namely to propagate the species and bring forth another generation of us. There are countless among ourselves who stand up and carry the unrelenting yoke of parenthood.
None is better than the other. Yet, all are dedicated to survival in a sometimes hostile and inhospitable world by self-replicating and, in so-doing, continuing the line that came before us. This month a good friend, long-ago adopted, reached out to his biological parents. Some 50 years ago, they, for many reasons, delivered an infant into the kind and willing hands of an adoptive family desperately awaiting his birth. But only now did that baby decide to announce his continuing existence to those whom he had imagined but not known.
Facebook made the connection. Messages were exchanged. Soon, regular telephone calls followed. Birth mother led to birth father led to step-siblings led to all manner of aunts, uncles and family penumbra. How is it all to be processed? His “family” has long been firmly in place. Those who raised, loved and cared for him stand ready – still devoted – in earnest hope that his journey will fulfill. How do we live and love in two hearts? Families are complicated.