In December 2006 my dear friend Al went to China a single woman and came back a mother.
It's not as simple as that, of course. She spent many, many months (okay, years) and a whole lot of dollars preparing for that trip and by the time she got on that plane all of her friends were ready to break out a hallelujah chorus of the Etta James classic, "At Last".
All of us, all of her friends? We get it.
We get that Al is the one who potty trained her. Who taught her letters and numbers and bought little shoes for her little feet. We get that Al is the one who cooks her breakfast, laughs at how funny she is, and gives her warm baths at night.
Allison is the one who wipes her runny noses and worries over her when she has a fever. She's the one who will sit up nights many years from now when the Ya goes on dates. She's the one who will visit colleges with her and worry over her when she's off at school.
She is her mom. Plain and simple.
She, the whitest, blondest woman I know, did not give birth to this precious little dark-haired, dark-eyed girl. But she is her momma.
She will forever be her momma.
There are people who don't get this. That honestly can't see that it's not blood or sperm or eggs that make a family...it's love. It's respect for each other. It's wanting someone to be a part of your life, even if they aren't biologically related to you. It's having a willing heart, and enough love to share.
It's knowing, really knowing, that sometimes you get to choose your family.
I alternate being really furious at people who don't get it and feeling really sad for them. I think if you spend five minutes with Al and her daughter, you couldn't help but get it. In my mind, and in my heart, there is literally no other way.
Love is what makes a family.
Love will always and forever be the only thing that makes a family.
And right now? I do feel sorry for you if you don't get that. Because not only do I belong to a really awesome family? I surround myself with other really awesome families.
And it really, really rocks.