Even before I knew who my original grandparents were and something about their stories, back when I was cleaning out my deceased parent’s residence, I began to have an awareness that so much stuff my parents stored in their house as they were executors of their own adoptive parents estates, was not actually relevant to my life. As a historian, it did pain me to send to the landfill tons of genealogy and binders full of personal recollections from a life of far flung traveling, because in reality, I’m not related to those people.
This awareness came back full force yesterday as my family has been going through an extreme phase of de-cluttering. As I now approach my own 66th birthday, I seem to be even more able than ever to let a lot of irrelevant stuff go.
Of course, I do acknowledge those relationships that helped to shape me in my youth. The adoptive grandparents and the aunts, uncles and cousins related to them had influence in my life and I do have fond memories of loving gestures and concern, as well as any opportunities that actually did come my way through these people. There will always be a place in my heart for these people who chose to love and nurture my parents and because of them – for us who were the children and so were treated equally as being somehow “related”. Though we weren’t, not really.
Now that I do know who my original grandparents were, it is these people who I think of as grandparents and there are new aunts but most of that ancestral level of relationship has already died and I’ll never be able to know them but second-hand through those who are my true cousins in a genetic sense.
While I honor and acknowledge the more direct relationships that came my way because of the adoption of my parents, the siblings and ancestors of those adoptive grandparents have lost all meaning for me. I am simply not related to those persons and their familial history holds no interest for me any longer.
My mom belonged to Ancestry and found she had to quit working on the family trees that were based on the circumstance of having been adopted. She said, “They just weren’t REAL to me.” I understand. In a short period of time, I have come to feel the same way.