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An adoptee left a comment on my blog indicating that adoptive families would never be nuclear families in the true sense. I get where she’s coming from. Many adult adoptees do not have access to their biological families or even information about them. This leaves a gaping hole in their lives. The ancestry, the lineage, the family trees do not fit for adoptees.

Thankfully, our son has access to his roots. He will be able to trace his biological family lines back for generations. However, he’ll have an additional branch that includes us. It’s almost a reversal. Where will we fit into his family tree?

Adoption has changed. The availability of information has made contact possible between adoptees and biological parents and siblings. Something that would require a detective 40 years ago can be found via Facebook. The typical family has changed. The nuclear family is no longer the norm. Divorce, adoption, globalization, multiculturalism have all changed the face of the family.


No nukes here.

Here are some of the configurations of families in my direct circle of friends:

  • Caucasian mom, Indo-Canadian dad, mixed-race toddler.
  • Filipino mom, Caucasian dad, mixed-race elementary kids
  • Caucasian couple with two daughters adopted locally. Same-race.
  • Parents with a new baby divorced within a year. Both remarried and have other children. The son, now 14 has three “half siblings,” four parents, and four sets of grandparents.
  • Parents with a 6-year-old son divorced. Both remarried. Son now 12, has a same-aged step-sibling and a baby brother on the other side.
  • Chinese-Filipino mom, Caucasian with a baby girl who bears little outward resemblance to mom.
  • Mixed-race lesbian couple with a 4-year-old boy biologically related to one mother and an unnamed father.
  • Single Caucasian mom with a son adopted from Africa
  • Single adoptive mom with 25-year-old daughter born in China.
  • Black and Caucasian couple with black son adopted from the US (open)
  • Indian mom, black father, two girls.
  • Married couple, mid-40s, no kids.
  • Gay male couple with toddler (I don’t know if he was adopted or came via a surrogate)
  • Single woman, 42 living with partner, no kids.
  • Single man, 39, no kids.
  • Divorced dad, 45, with pre-teens lives with same-aged woman. She now has two step-sons who are not biologically related to her.

Of course, I know plenty of same-race, biological families that qualify as nuclear, and they have the comfort of their biological links and less confusing scenarios to manage. I’m not against nuclear families. Yet, everywhere I turn in Vancouver, I see families that don’t fit the accepted nuclear definition. We live in a city that shows off the cultural mashup to its best advantage, a place where difference is the norm, a place that redefines family. And I say hurrah for that.

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