This past weekend, Molly and I, along with Molly's mom and 1F, drove down to visit our grandkids. We had a great time visiting with the family. AG, 1F's 'birth-daughter' (if that's the word for their relationship), is quite the little chatterbox these days, and quite the little charmer. She was also most anxious to demonstrate for all of her guests, most especially 'Auntie 1F', that she is well on her way to potty-trained. All together, it was a wonderful visit. Molly's mom came along so we could take a four-generation photo of her, Molly, 1F and AG all together (I love those four-generation pictures; they sorta remind me, in an odd way, of the big fish eating the middle-sized fish, who is eating the small fish, only in reverse). We took a bunch of those photos, including one in which AG laid on her side across the laps of the three grown-ups. Very, very cute.
And it got me to thinking about connections - the connections we have with other people. I actually think about that a fair bit, from time to time. I'm adopted, and I have connections to the family that raised me, and my birth-parents, and their families, and Molly's family. And, in the person of AG, we are connected to the family that adopted her. That connection would exist, whether they were willing to have any relationship with us or not; it is, of course, gratifying in the extreme that they are not only willing, but openly ,and warmly, and graciously so. And likewise, in my person, my birth- and adoptive parents have had a connection to each other for the past 53 years, even though they only met each other a few years ago.
A very heart-warming aspect of our connection to AG's family is the way that they've adopted us as grandparents for all of their kids, including the two boys they've had 'in the natural way' since AG came into their family. I have no idea how to explain the phenomenon, but they are not the first couple I've known (or even the second or the third), who have struggled with infertility for several years, finally deciding to adopt, and then the adoption seems to 'cure' the infertility, and the mother who couldn't conceive for so many years, suddenly starts popping out the babies like the fertile-est Myrtle you've ever known (AG's parents now have three kids, spanning less than two years in age). I don't know to what extent adopting AG 'brought about' the natural conception of their sons, but I am so happy for them that it happened the way it did, and that our family could possibly, by whatever convoluted stretch, have helped bring it about.
Connections. I think of some of the work that my dad and I have done, tracing our family tree. And the times we've found things like great-great-grandfather leaving his father and mother, as a young man, and moving three states away - and right across the street from the family whose daughter would become our great-great-grandmother. And then I look up and down our street; or, I look around the church at Sunday Mass; or I look around the room at one of our community's prayer meetings - and I wonder if any of the young people I see there might become my sons-in-law, or my daughters-in-law. Or if any of my friends might become co-grandparents of my grandchildren (I have a few friends whose kids have married each other, and the relationship of the two sets of grandparents, who were already good friends before their kids married, is just really, really cool).
My birth-parents, who hadn't seen each other, essentially since my birth, finally met each other a couple years back, when my birth-mother was visiting friends in birth-father's state, and called him up, and they got together, with their current spouses. That probably wouldn't have happened, if I'd never searched for and met them. And yet, that connection between the two of them has existed for as long as I have.
And of course, in the person of AG, 1F is forever, and unavoidably, connected to F-bomb. It is what it is; much as I might wish not to have that connection to that man, the fact that AG, and her family, and our connection to them, are the outcome of our connection to F-bomb, are more than sufficient 'compensation' for the aggravation.
I apologize for the 'rambly-ness' of this post. My thoughts on it all are pretty 'impressionistic', and not terribly well-formed, just yet. But I find myself thinking a lot, lately, about the many and various connections we have to other people. . .
Edit, May 8 - It occurs to me that this post works very well in the context of the upcoming Mother's Day holiday - motherhood being the original and fundamental 'connection' in all of our lives. Having watched eight children grow in Molly's womb, I am sometimes envious of the deep physical connection that she has with them. Of course, they all have half my DNA, as well as hers, and I have done my best to be a sure and loving paternal presence in their lives, but they never had an umbilical cord connecting them to me, and they never kicked my spleen from the inside. . .
And that also touches on some of the wonder I've felt at meeting and knowing my birth-mother. Sometimes, as an adoptee, you can kinda feel like you fell out of the sky, into the waiting arms of your parents. But when I met my birth-mother, it was like, OK, this is where I came from - this is the woman in whose belly I grew, and between whose legs I entered this world. And it just made my life seem grounded to the earth in a way it hadn't been before. . .
So - rich blessings to all mothers - our culture doesn't value your rich contributions to its ongoing life, not nearly as much as it once did, and certainly not as much as it ought to. But, just speaking on my own behalf, I honor your role, and your service to your children (which we all are, in one form or another). Thank you all. . .