Thursday, February 17, 2011

Home Is Where The People Are - Part 2

In my previous blog, I wrote about my view on home, that it is where the people are. This week, I plan on sticking to that theme, but I would like to portray it in a different way.

Home is where the people are – I was born on October 24th in South Korea to a mother and father who were unable to take care of me. As such, I was given to a foster mother immediately after my birth, and I stayed with her for thirteen months. Of course, I don’t remember living in the foster home, but from what I’ve heard I was very lucky. My foster mother cared for me very much, and even though I don’t remember anything about her or the home, I will always be grateful to her for taking care of me. However, she and the house I lived in for one year were not my real home.

Home is where the people are – On December 5th, following my first birthday, I was seated on a plane that was heading for a New York airport. I can’t remember if I landed at JFK or La Guardia, but I guess that doesn’t matter too much. What does matter is that there was a family waiting for me in the terminal: my mom, Debbie, my dad, Tom, my sister, Grace, and my grandparents on my mom’s side. They are my true home.

Home is where the people are – My parents told me early on that I was adopted; they didn’t keep secrets or lie about my heritage. I’ve always appreciated that. Then again, it wasn’t too hard to figure out that I looked absolutely nothing like my Scottish/Italian father or my Portuguese/English mother. Even though I’m not related to my parents by blood, I am absolutely their son and they are absolutely my mother and father. I honestly cannot recall a time when I’ve used the line, “You’re not my real parents”, because that statement is just not true. They are my real parents… they are my true home.

If my theory on home is true, that it is people who create this atmosphere of a home, then surely Toko must agree with me. In Patricia Grace’s Potiki, a mother, Roimata, and a father, Hemi, adopt a boy by the name of Toko. He is not their son by birth; in fact, he is the child of Mary, Hemi’s sister. Yet the boy is a part of Roimata and Hemi’s family; the mother even says, “We have four children, James, Tangimoana, Manu, and Tokowaru-i-te-Marama” (15). She considers this boy to be their son, and Toko considers her and Hemi to be his parents. He says, “My making father could be a ghost, or a tree, or a tin-can man, but it does not matter. I have Hemi who is father to me… then Roimata, who is a mother to me…” (42). Just as I belong to my adoptive family, so too does Toko belong to his adoptive family. It is in the boy’s accomplishments that he truly feels like a son—his capture of the big fish is one example. I feel a deep connection with my parents when they are proud of me. I enjoy seeing the proud looks on their faces when I accomplish something significant. I have a feeling Toko feels the same way.

Home is where the people are – it is hard to imagine the life I would have lived if I had not been adopted, or even if a different family had adopted me. There are so many “what ifs” that I could probably sit down for an entire day and write down only half of then. Both Toko and I live very different lives, but we share an extra-ordinary connection that not many others can relate to. We were both adopted into loving families, into a home where the people truly make a different.

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