The Family You Make

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It’s November, it’s Thanksgiving and I think we all spend this time of year thinking about family and reflecting on the past. I’m no different. Thanksgiving was always my favorite holiday. There was just something about it. We spent much of my childhood and several years through high school traveling a few hours to Columbus Ohio to spend the holiday weekend with my parents’ best friend and her family. Their family became family to us. My imperfect family melded well with their quirky family, for instance their dad never ate Thanksgiving with us, he would pile a paper plate high and sit in front of the tv. For that weekend I felt pretty normal and it was so important for me to feel normal. Maybe that’s why I still love the holiday.

This year I think more about my dad. The fact that he was basically closeted most of his life which drove him to essentially live a double life. Often this meant he left the nuclear family he created far behind. Dad’s absence was absolutely devastating for me. I could never understand why he didn’t want to spend all of his extra time with us. I felt so unloved and unwanted. The day I got married my dad was set to walk me down the aisle, he cried so hard he could barely catch his breath. I have often wondered if he was crying because he really loved me or if he was crying because he regretted the way he treated me during my childhood. He died one year after I got married so I’ll never get the chance to ask.

This year I have also thought a lot about the family I have created. I have a wonderful, loving husband that truly cares and desperately wants and loves his children. Up until just a few years ago, I still saw that devotion and was awed by it. It has taken years for me to realize that kind of love and devotion from a father is normal. As the years have passed in our marriage, I now appreciate his love even more. We want to grow our family through adoption. This has held such a special place in my heart, to be able to give loving parents to a child that has never known it. During this time in our world, love is what motivates me to triumph for equal rights. I have so often wondered how different life would have been if my own dad didn’t have to choose between who he knew he was and having a family. What if he could have had both? Would my family have been spared the sadness and pain? I still hold out hope for a world where you don’t have to choose between who you love and having a family. Everyone deserves that.

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