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The word family has always had an odd meaning to me.

Being adopted, people always asked about my birth parents. They were never family to me, just some people who shared their dna with me. To me family was my adopted parents, and their relatives.

By the time I was 7, my "family" consisted of my mother, and her parents. My father chose liquor, and my addict step-mother over being with me. His absense downgraded his status from Daddy, to someone whose name I'd put down on forms next to "father's name".

I never considered family very importent.. while I loved my mother.. the concept of family was never truly understood. I didn't think it mattered.

Being adopted by white parents was never an issue I realized until recently. I pushed it to the back of my mind. I think I wanted to belong to my mother so much I denied even considering having feelings on it. I remember when I was about 3, we were watching the tv show "M*A*S*H". That was the moment that I realized that people would be quicker to assume my "mommy" wasn't my mother, than to recognize the truth. That she was not my birth mother was written on my face, before I could speak those words. There was something eerie about having something as permanent as my face and eyes link me to a country and people a lifetime away.

Around the age of 20, I realized I had what I thought was a wonderful family. They weren't ties of blood, or even adopted blood. They were friends. People who I shared my life with, and would give the shirt off my back to. People who stuck with me through good and bad times. Relations that still shimmered, and time/distance had not diminished. I really thought that was all family was about.

As I've started to approach 23, I've started to feel disconnected. Not in a recent way, as if maybe I never had the connection to begin with. I have been told repeatedly by those who oppose adoption, that I will never be a whole person until I embrace my ethnic roots. I still consider this untrue. Though I've started to realize I've failed to acknowledge the fact we are our roots, biologically, emotionally, and so on. They don't determine who we are, but they play a part in what shaped us.

I realize that I don't quite understand where the boundaries are on my relationships with men. In a way that isn't incestual but weird.. I've kind of looked for a father in my relationships. Not to be like my father, but to have a father role in my life for once. One of guidence and other nuturing things. Fathers are really the first relating experiences girls having when they grow up. It's the primary male in their life for the formative years. They have experiences that are good and bad.. and use those in factoring. I don't even have the bad experiences to use to know what to avoid. The father role is also used as a measuring stick for unhealthy situations. Not having that measuring stick, it is hard to determine certain things. Instead I wind up using examples from pop culture to try to make up for my lack of experience. Little things like that.

I don't feel the need to find out who my birth parents are, as people. Though I wish I knew their medical history. Mental, and physical health is largely inherited. It would fill in a lot of blanks.

Family to me, are people who will tell you when you are fucking up. They are also the ones who will be there after you do fuck up. A bond of love. I have these people, though other than my mother and grandparents.. they are all friends. The majority are male. It leaves me the awful question in my head, when I am old will they still be there? I don't fancy myself a beauty, but I am not an ogre. Would they still be there for me if I gained 300 lbs? How much of their support is based on me being female? It seems paranoid, but it's also an honest question. It's not that I don't trust them, it's a question of how much I trust myself.

I don't really have anyone in my life that is tied to me for any real legnth of time other than my mother and grandparents, all whose health is failing. My oldest friends have been there for 7 years or so, but what is 7 years compared to the average lifetime. In 20 years who will I be tied to? And will those ties be ones bound to who I am, or who people see me as during a phase of my life?

This probably all seems pretty random, but all these things have one thing in common. The word family keeps popping up in my head when I think of each situation.

Why can't I be pedantic about things that have answers that are easily attainable?