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“Different is okay. Different is often beautiful”

Published: January 31, 2017

Eden Fried is an American writer with 6 adopted siblings. Here she shares the joys and challenges of being part of family that includes members of different ethnicities and abilities.

“Were my instructions unclear?” asked my 5th grade English teacher. I was certain I understood, as her directions had been fairly simple:  bring in a family photo.  It must have been my blank stare that clued her in to my incomprehension so she continued, “Why did you bring this picture in?”  I watched as her patience visibly faded before my eyes and nervously responded that this was the only photo I was allowed to take from home.

“But why are these black people in your family picture?” she asked me. Cue the light bulb.  It finally all made sense.

Over the years, I’ve encountered my fair share of people, much like this teacher, who failed to recognize that families come in all different sorts of shapes, sizes, orientations, abilities, and colors. Mine was certainly no exception.

To many, my family appeared incredibly different– strange even, depending on your perspective.  Together, we’re 12 people total; two parents, ten kids.

I’ve always loved being apart of a large family. There was never a shortage of playmates, which was definitely a plus. If we wanted to play “school”, we nearly had enough kids to fill a mini-classroom. If we wanted to play a game of ball, there were enough of us to split into two teams without much struggle (much being the operative word as we’d often wrestle our way through differences of opinion).

While I regarded my family as our own version of “normal”, many others couldn’t quite understand us in the same way. After the incident in 5th grade, my eyes suddenly widened to that reality, and I began to notice the attention we received much more.

Thankfully, my Mom, who is an adoption professional and founder of an adoption agency in the states, taught me never to mind the turned heads. She said our family was teaching the rest of the world about diversity, adoption, and acceptance.  She’d tell me that our family is beautiful and that we should embrace the fact that we’re different.

That I did. Different is okay. In fact, different is often beautiful.

I stopped minding the fact that we drew attention every time we walked into a room together, enjoyed a family dinner at a restaurant, or even as we walked from store exit to car door.  Though, I’d be lying if I insinuated that painful remarks don’t leave scars.

That’s why I’ve never forgotten that experience in the 5th grade, and why I’ve never let go of every moment that someone has asked me, “Do your parents find it difficult to love your adopted siblings the same as they love you?”

To paraphrase Maya Angelou, “We will forget what people say or even what people do, but we will never forget how they made us feel.”

I’m not adopted and I’m not a parent. I can’t claim to understand the full depth of the bittersweet journey that is adoption. What I do know is that I’ve been touched by adoption so closely that it’s forever a part of who I am.

Family is not always blood, it’s love and happiness and everything in between.

Eden Fried regularly blogs about adoption for her Mother’s adoption agency based in the United States called Adoption STAR.


One Response to ““Different is okay. Different is often beautiful””

  1. Mary Richert says:

    Inspiring, Eden

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