Saturday, August 15, 2009

On being an Aunt

Growing up as an only child I figured that I would never be an Aunt. Of course it never dawned on me that I could become one through marriage. And since shacking up with Hilary I have had that chance, as we have a wonderful nephew, Noah, who is one year younger then Liam.

Unfortunately since we live on opposite coasts of a pretty big country, and they sometimes live in Japan, I don't get to be that dotting Auntie that I imagined. You know, like Monica from "Friends", when Rachel and Ross have the baby and Monica declares "I will always have gum".

The converse of that of course is that Liam's Aunt (Noah's mom) doesn't get to dote on Liam either.

And then it hit me yesterday as I was walking home (my best time for random thoughts).

Liam has another Aunt, who lives on this coast, in fact only a few hours away. But adoption has interfered with that relationship. When most people think about adoption they never go past the "triad" - child, first parent (and even then most only think about first mother, not father) and adoptive parents. Yet there are so many other connections that can be lost when adoption enters the picture: Aunts, Uncles, cousins, Grandparents.

Open adoption is a great step towards keeping those connections forged. Letting children grow up knowing ALL of their extended family, seeing their traits reflected in their people, being loved by many.

My other random thought yesterday was to ponder if I am an Aunt through my own first family. I know that my 1/2 sister Madelaine does not have any children, but I also have 4 1/2 siblings from my father's side. They are all 20+ years older then I am, so it's quite conceivable that they had children who now have children of their own.

This thought of even more lost family connections has got me thinking, once again, about whether or not I should try to find and contact my first father's family. Something I will have to ponder some more.

And my last random thought yesterday?

Aunt Andy just sounds funny! Whether you say it as ANT or Awnt (which makes me want to say Awndy instead of Andy) neither rolls off the tongue very easily. Auntie doesn't improve it nor does Aunt Andrea. I think I will switch to my French Canadian background and declare my self "Ma tante Andy"


Beautiful Mess said...

We use "Tante" on our side of the family as well.

It's a tough decision to make, I would think. But you are a smart gal and I think any decision you make is full of pros and cons. You'll make the right decision, I have no doubt!

Anonymous said...

I was the first grandchild on both sides in my family and my parents had siblings who were still in high school/college (one or two even younger) when I was born. My 20-ish uncle Andrew made a point of saying that there was NO WAY he was old enough to be "Uncle Andrew" and so my dad fiendishly trained me as soon as I learned to talk to say "Aunt Andrew" instead to see what he'd think of that. We settled on just First Name and Aunt/Uncle titles for the great-aunts and -uncles. Your post just reminded me that I briefly had an Aunt Andy!

And when one of my partner's half-siblings (bio dad's youngest daughter) found her this weekend, one of our first questions was whether she'd have any children, which none of the maternal half-sibs do. It was a strange feeling that not only is there this woman out there but there might be a whole unknown generation of relatives. When Lee goes back to her hometown in a few weeks, I hope she'll make physical contact, but that's not my call.

Third Mom said...

Such a good post, because it talks to an adoption issue that seldom gets attention in the mainstream: adoption's ripple effect. So many aspects of so many lives are impacted by adoption, yet they often go unnoticed. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.