Randall grew up surrounded by love. Why is he ecstatic to find total strangers who are “distant cousins,” and blood kin?
Wasn’t the love of his adoptive parents enough? Why do adoptees crave a real blood relative?
Refugees are sometimes like adoptees—uprooted, often cut off from familiar people and immediate family, their “tribe.” They are scattered across the world, reduced to seek physical survival. Having a cozy home is moot, cousins are moot.
If you read about refugees in France who are unaccompanied minors—their parents sent these teenagers across thousands of miles of danger, so SOMEONE in the family might survive.
I have a lot of “virtual family”—people to whom I feel so spiritually connected that they feel like kin, as if I’ve known them all my life. Does it matter if we share DNA?
I think the shared DNA—“cousins, cousins”—is a primal identity. “Where you came from” and “who you are.”
But sometimes an adoptee or a love child reconnects with a biological parent and finds them alien, repulsive, or destructive to them. Unattractive.
Sometimes there are people in our family tree who seem to us awful, undesirable even as friends, immoral, toxic, unpleasant or just plain boring.
Does DNA trump everything? The assumption that “we are family” may not hold, emotionally and/or intellectually. It’s ONLY DNA, in some of those cases. We have nothing in common and we reject the assumption of likeness. “That’s not who I am or who I want to be.”
Many of my friends and I have gone into the search for ancestors. It is amazing and wonderful to find resonance, inspiration, and intrigue. People a century old who indeed look like us. People who did things that we do, who had habits we have, lived like we do, and even thought like we do. Similar struggles. It’s GREAT to call those people “family.” Those are welcome roots.
I asked myself, what are you looking for, in this roots searching? My answer: the feeling of belonging. Deep belonging. Likeness. Resonance.
Instead of picturing family TREES we should picture biological ties as ROOT SYSTEMS. Some plants can have root systems covering hundreds of miles. Millions of branch roots and billions of root hairs. That’s the genetic pool we’re in. They are the SAME PLANT. The parts that show above the ground—the expression—will vary depending on conditions. The “green shoots” are bound together underground. They might look alike. They can look different too. It feels good to be in it together, though.