On blood

Laying across my son's bed with him beside of me. Both of us on our backs, fingers entwined, alone without any distractions. A quiet moment at the end of a tough conversation that I wasn't ready to have. That's when he whispered it.

Sometimes y'all don't feel like my blood.

It's a sharp punch right in the chest and I lose my breath for a moment. I realized I've been walking on eggshells for nearly 10 years. Not wanting him to feel different, not wanting him to feel less loved or less wanted, not wanting to show preference, never wanting him to be the outsider.

Every adoptive parent has to make a choice: either tell your child another woman gave birth to him or pretend otherwise. Both choices have their consequences.

I chose to never keep my son's birth a secret from him. The questions began a few years ago. Why am I your son if my Nahnee had me in her tummy? Why are they my brothers if they aren't your sons? Why did my Nahnee give me to you but keep my brothers?

The answers have been simple. Age appropriate. Teetering on the edge. There's a hidden question that he's groping for, that he'll find. Inevitably. With maturity comes the heartbreaking quest to pin it all down, to keep pushing into the dark, to know everything.

Soon enough, he'll uncover the answers and I'll tear at the decisions I can't take back. I kept no secrets, and so my child is always searching. The weight of it propels him forward and forces him to wonder: Am I one of them?

Is blood is irrelevant? Why am I here and not there. Who were they? Where do I fit? Why don't I fit there? Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?

There's an answer that involves loss and pain and sadness. There's another answer that involves hope and forgiveness and faith. And honesty.

He's slowly moving into the dark, reaching out for the variables that will lead him to himself. When he finds them, my affirmation will be: You belong right here with us. You are etched into our bones, and we have shaped you in ways DNA can't fathom. We aren't just your blood, we're your marrow.

The questions will get tougher, but my legacy will be honesty. Honesty and love. Pure and endless, transcending birth and blood. Love that soothes the scars that form.

Lying there together, fingers entwined, I said to him: We're greater than blood. We're family. I pray everyday that will be enough.

***November is National Adoption Month. If you're interested in adopting, I'd be
happy to answer any questions or share my experiences with private, kinship adoption.
Learn more about general adoption issues here


  • Sofia's Ideas

    Wow, Kelly. I don't know what to say. This post brought a tear to my eyes... beautiful, just simply beautiful...

  • Cheri

    Kelly - I wish you and Javi all the best as you work through this. But keep in mind that you DO share part of the same DNA pool! You can assure him that some of the same blood runs through both of your veins.

  • ShannonL

    That was absolutely beautiful, Kelly. Brought tears to my eyes.

  • Leslie

    Kelly, I first read about this when you wrote about your sister and your generous, loving decision during Five for Ten. Your story about the blood between you (and so much more) is moving, and simple, true way you tell it is moving on its own.

  • Liz

    I'm so sorry he's having a hard time!

    I, too, am adopted, and my mom told me I was before I really knew what it meant. I always felt that it ebbed and flowed through the years. Hopefully he'll find some peace with it all very soon.

  • Moore Minutes

    Wow Kelly. I admire your strength. This must be very difficult. I really agree with your style of sharing with him. This post really grabbed my heart. Give your boy a BIG hug from me! :)

  • Rudri

    Kelly, this was poignant and beautiful. The way you tell your truth is especially moving. Thanks for this sentiment and your honesty.

  • Anonymous

    This brought tears to my eyes and a silent sob. What a great mom you are! I'm sure he will feel etched in your bones and part of your marrow.

  • The Drama Mama

    "We're greater than love. We're family." Absolutely beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes.
    He will never forget it. Much love to you for being the wonderful human being you are, and the mother that didn't have to be.

  • Unknown

    It is so hard, isn't it? My baby asks questions all the time. And my heart breaks. I wish he did come from me. Just so he would never have to feel the pain of rejection.

  • Sarah Buttenwieser

    What a beautiful post (forwarded to me from a friend): I've got a not yet three year old & we're opting for open always, from forever. She has three older brothers I gave birth to. I'm sure the why's are on their way & it's so helpful to read others' experiences. I hope you'll look at my blog (which has a range of topics including adoption woven in). I'll come back & read more here, that's for sure.

  • Draft Queen

    Given all the talk T has been doing about his bio-mom lately, this makes my cry. Obviously he knows the woman he calls "mom" isn't his mother. He knows she's out there and has a vague recollection of her.

    It's just so tough trying to help them through all their questions.

  • Stacia

    You hit it: you're the marrow. We know that well in my family, as my mom is adopted. What a powerful piece, Kelly, and what a powerful gift you are giving your son.

  • Jessica

    You are an amazing woman, with an amazing, generous heart. Mamahood is tough on so many fronts. You are brave. And inspiring.

  • Hyacynth

    Well, I thought I loved the chickens post, but I really, really love this one. The path you've taken is hard, and it comes with so many questions, but I think you're onto something. The honesty -- the fact that he is loved and wanted and so part of the marrow of your family, will overshadow the darkness.
    You are such a beautiful writer.

  • Unknown

    What a tough conversation. But, having kept the door open that he feels comfortable even talking to you is amazing. Hugs mama.

  • suzannah | the smitten word

    kelly, this is one of the best posts i've ever read. so much pain, but so much truth and beauty. you are a good mom and you are doing an amazing job.

  • Cheryl

    Beautiful post. This: "We aren't just your blood, we're your marrow." ::chills::

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