This week, I was fortunate enough to connect with someone who had sought out his biological mother when he was about my age. It was wonderful to hear his story about how he went in search of his birth mother, and although she had passed away by the time he discovered her identity, he was still able to connect with others in her family. He described how strange it was to see her picture and see how much he looked like her. He admitted how he could not get enough of the photo albums, and I understood exactly how he felt. The connection he has been able to develop with his biological family is something that he cherishes, and yet something so many take for granted.

I grew up not looking like anyone around me, no one talked about my father, and there were no pictures anywhere that made me feel in anyway connected to others that might share some of my DNA. Sadly, I was told all the pictures burned in a fire. So when I finally found my dad, I cannot describe the joy I felt seeing that I actually looked just like someone else. Seeing my cousins and half-brother and being able to find similarities between us is just so cool, and I admit, I never grow tired of seeing their pictures, which are all over my house these days.

Unlike me, my son is growing up with both his parents in his life, even though we are in separate households. He knows exactly who he looks like, where he gets certain traits, and hopefully as he gets older he will be able to take from the best of both our personalities. In addition, thanks to my discovery this year, he also now has two complete sets of grandparents, two uncles, and a ton of extended family that will hopefully help him feel more connected and loved in this world than I could ever have imagined possible. That is the best gift I could ever give him– even though he may not realize it for many years to come.

After a divorce, most people lose connections and family ties are usually strained. Ironically, it is probably as a direct result of my divorce that I went in search of my biological father and now have 8 wonderful new people in my life. The point I want to make in sharing my story is this: we are the masters of our own destiny, and divorce does not have to destroy families. Furthermore, in a society where over 41% of our children are being born out of wedlock, it is critical that we broaden our minds and open our hearts to include as many family figures as possible in our children’s lives.

Whether a child was adopted, created through artificial reproductive technology, or the product of some fling on board the Love Boat, it is human nature that s/he will want to meet his/her makers. Let’s not lie to our children– and above all I don’t believe we should kill someone off or sever an entire family line needlessly. We may have to put aside some of our own pain, sorrow or dissappoint in order to foster connections for our children, but it is a small price to pay to have well-adjusted, balanced individuals with a healthy perspective on family.