Monday, April 5, 2010

Making up for Lost Time: the Biology and Sociology of Family

I realized recently that the hope of my husband and I one day giving birth to a child is going to take us on yet another wild roller coaster ride.

* * *

I am discovering that in wanting a child, I am seeking compensation for what was lost forever, that which is impossible to recover. I am hoping for the mergence of the relational and the biological.

As much as one would think that finding my biological family would result in making up for what was lost, it hasn't. My Korean parents and I can't make up for an entire lifetime lost between us.

They can't go back and be there when I took my first steps or spoke my first words, when I learned to read or ride a bike. They can't go back and be there when a boy broke my heart or when I first fell in love. They cannot go back and read stories to me or help me with my homework. They can't tuck me in at night or sit with me after I've had a nightmare. They can't go back and hold my hand as I tried to learn to roller skate or be there Christmas morning after Santa dropped off our loot.

There is nothing that can replace all the years of growing up, learning, and being with my American parents. The history and memories that bind us to one another cannot be reproduced or imitated.

I notice myself clinging more and more to my American parents because of the long history we share, because of the relationships we have developed over the past 30 plus years. The relationships we have forged cannot be substituted or replaced.

I am realizing slowly that all of the biology that my Omma and Appa share with me cannot compensate for all the time lost.

This is quite a learning experience; it surprises me more and more.

* * *

I am also realizing that family relationships are both social and biological. They're not one or the other. It's the whole nature versus nurture thing. Accept in this case, it's not a question of which one matters more--it's simply that they both matter.

Biology is not enough to foster a relationship. Biology cannot step in and magically resurrect a relationship that died before it even began. Biology cannot suddenly make close what has been far away.

And yet a relationship that has been built with time and proximity, familiarity and history cannot replace biology. It may be able to substitute for it to a certain degree, but it cannot replace it.

I have always longed for both.

Now I have both, but they remain divided.

* * *

I tell myself that if I can have a child, I can bring them together. I can make up for what I did not have.

This is what I want to believe, but realistically I know that I cannot place that kind of pressure on myself or on any child that we may have.

And of course, I know that no one thing will ever "fix me." No one thing, no one person will ever make me whole again.

And yet, it is this for which I never stop longing.

I know that giving birth to a child of my own will not solve my problems. In many ways, it will only add to them.

But to my problems it will also add new understanding, and a new beginning. A chance to start over. A chance to experience the synergy of the biological and relational qualities--which are meant to characterize family--working together.


Anonymous said...

God and Jesus can make you whole again.....just pray

Mia_h_n said...

I'm glad you seem aware that a child won't make up for the first 34 years. It can't and it shouldn't. A child should not be born with a job. That's unfair, I think.