Knowing Them Helps Me Make Sense of Him


From his birth nearly 16 years ago, I’ve struggled at times to make sense of my second son. I love him to pieces and find him endlessly entertaining to talk with, but . . . there have been times I have looked at him and thought, “Holy crap, kid. I do NOT get you. I love you, but you are cut from different cloth than me.”

Fortunately for me though, I have the benefit of knowing his extended family. Rather, fortunately for BOTH of us, really.

The crippling social anxiety that occasionally besets him? No worries. There’s medication for that if needed and you know what? Lots of his uncles and aunts on his dad’s side have similar issues and they’ve been able to find ways to navigate through life just fine. In fact, I think some of them are the better for it because the sensitivity to their surroundings makes them better artists & more compassionate people.

Psoriasis of the scalp? Yep, his dad and one of the uncles on his dad’s side has dealt with that his whole life, too. Same with two of the aunts. And guess what? Treating it with the things that worked for them works for him, too. Go figure.

His rapier wit and love of arguing the finer points of all things, even if they don’t need to be argued? Grandpa Jay was the same way. He grew up to be a successful attorney . . . maybe my boy will, too.

Even something as simple as the way he answers his texts is just like his dad’s side of the family. The screen shot is from a few minutes ago – his response on top and his aunt’s on the bottom.

When I saw these responses side by side like this, I laughed a bit and then sent my sister-in-law a quick text about how grateful I am to know them because they help me make sense of my highly intuitive, charming, sensitive, and intelligent son. He is so very different than me in so many ways but is so very much like his uncles and aunts from his dad’s side of the family.

If I didn’t know them, I would be lost as a parent.

If he didn’t know them, he would be lost as a person.

Trying to raise my son without the anchors and mooring his natural family brings would be a wildly frustrating experience for both of us.

Knowing his extended natural family helps me make sense of him and most importantly, it helps him make sense of his own self and his journey through life. He knows how and where his unique giftedness fits into the tapestry of life because he knows them.

In a very small way, this helps me understand the struggles of many adoptees who are raised with no knowledge or contact with their original family.

In the absence of any genetic mirroring, how do they make sense of their world? Of themselves?

Is it any wonder so many adoptees tell us how they grew up feeling like they were strangers living in a strange land, rootless and drifting? How could we have expected anything different as a society? Most importantly, how do we now rectify this?