24 November 2017

What is a family?

The question of family comes up not only for National Adoption Month, but also at this time of year when turkeys are basted.

Before my adoptive parents passed away, the Thanksgiving Holiday was my favorite. It meant we would gather in the homes of my East Tennessee relatives. We would feast and gossip, sleep and eat again.

The womenfolk would gather in the kitchen, as the men gathered in front of the tube to watch the game. The house was warm and alive.

Today, my heart is filled with sorrow at the sweetness of those days. I am very thankful for those moments, but not because my Tennerican family “saved” me from a “life of poverty” as the adoption agencies and lawyers would have you believe during their month of November.

I own these memories of home and love, but that does not diminish the importance of my life before them. It only enriches my lived experience.

The connection with my home country has granted me a grace I never consciously knew until my feet landed there. I have reclaimed the Korean BBQ feast, the Korean Spa experience and Noreabang. Those beloved experiences were shared with my closest friends for my fiftieth this year. Those from my pre-Korea days were able to embrace the life I so long for now.

I cherish the quiet November table where my home is filled with the smells of roast parsnips and a chargrilled turkey. There is gratitude for the table set for four and the four cats that stalk the table. Our family tradition is what it is … our tiny family in the midwest. That’s perfect for now.