Adoption Stories: Children’s Feeling of Belonging Was Key

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iStockphoto.com/Beverley Vycital

DNA isn’t the main factor in the building and structure of a family. If you ask me, it’s mutual need and caring.

Welcome to the family

When my mother married the man I called Dad, he embraced my younger sister and me as his own. We never used the words “stepfather” and “stepchildren.”

Barbara was 6 and I was 11 when Dad came into our lives, and we immediately adored him. It was important to him that we felt a sense of belonging, and we did. Dad later adopted us, making his title of “Dad” legal and further cementing the relationship of parent and child.

The best dad

It was in the 1950s when our family became complete, and Dad taught us a lot of things over the years. But I think the most important thing he taught me – and probably Barbara too – is that you need not be a birth parent, and that you need not adopt a child at birth to be a loving and caring parent. He proved that to us regularly.

Dad was a little boy in a man’s body, clear up until his death in 2005. He was a classic cutup. Later, in the face of health issues, I’m sure it was his humor and laughter that extended his life.

At 81, Dad was a still a youthful child at heart and in spirit. He was the perfect father figure for us. He was always calm, always wore a grin on his face, and he was most accepting.

Dad took his role as the father of two daughters seriously. And because of that, our relationships with him were strong.

Not once in the more than 50 years he and Mom were married did Dad make Barbara or me feel that we were less than his biological children.

He was the only grandfather our children ever knew, and he was a terrific one at that. Later, when our children began having children of their own, Dad shone as a loving, adoring great-grandfather. And he always accepted his role with love and encouragement – and a grin on his face.

Despite DNA shared with someone else, it was our adopted dad who had an impact on the lives of my sister and me.

Schertz, Texas