My son had a son.  How awesome is that?  Shortly after that occurrence a well meaning acquaintance asked me if it was any different having a “real” grandchild. 

Let me back up.  My second son, Brandon, is the biological half-brother of Emma.  We adopted them both when Emma was 5, Brandon was 8 and Jacob, our biological son, was 9.  For the last couple years Brandon has been living with Jenna, the love of his life and a fine young woman in her own right.  Jenna has a daughter, Paisley.  Are you following all this? 

I’ll never forget how excited my wife, Marie, was when she invited Brandon and Jenna over to Christmas at our house that first year and would they PLEASE bring Paisley so we could meet her. I believe she was four, maybe three.  I lose track. Anywho, when Marie got a “yes” there was a whirlwind of activity.  Most of that activity had to do with my wife and Piper, our biological daughter, heading to every store in Olathe, Kansas to buy toys and presents for Paisley.  Marie and Piper were like kids in a candy store. 

Are you still with me?  When Paisley arrived that Christmas morning she was a bundle of energy.  And what beautiful brown eyes she has!  In fact, in my time with her I have come to call her my brown-eyed nuclear power plant.  She is go, go, go all the time.  Great smile.  Heartwarming laugh.  Sunny disposition. 

Brandon loves Jenna and Paisley.  We love Brandon.  With these two ladies now in his life we got to meet them and now we love them, too.  Just like we love Makena, our other daughter-in-law by way of Jake.  I guess I learned that from my mom.  Once you entered her world, her family, you were family. There was no separation.

families today

So along comes Oliver in July.  Brandon’s first biological child and boy-oh-boy does he dote on that child. And yet make no mistake, he loves Paisley, too.  It’s obvious.  There is joy.  Yes, there is difference.  Still, isn’t there difference in nearly every child, in every family?

Then comes that question about my “real” grandchild.  Well, let me think about this.  Brandon is adopted.  Does that make him an “unreal” son?  Does that make Oliver not my grandson?  I get so confused.  I know the question was without malice though it did really get me to thinking.

Which brings me back to “What is family?”  I know what a nuclear family is.  I know the evolutionary, biological reasoning for “blood” family.  And yet, I splinter from that.  My best friend Doug is every bit as much as my family as my sisters.  Heck, I’ve known him as long/longer as one of my sisters!

My mom taught me a lot of things in her years.  She taught me to love and to care and cry and to celebrate.  She took me to church.  She taught me think like an entrepreneur.  She taught me how NOT to handle my finances.  And, thankfully, she taught me what family really is.  Yes, it is blood.  Yes, it is adoption, legal or not.  Yes, it is marrying in.  It’s all those things…and so much more. My son had a son.  And because of him I now have two grandchildren!  In my definition of family, that is a great and precious thing.