What does family mean to you? Is it the arguing bunch that gathers around holidays or is it the similar faces that surround a dinner table with clasped hands? Does one need to possess the same genes as you to even be called family? Is family so prestigious that even love cannot be graced with open arms until a paternity test shown in fine print? That is not family to me.

I refuse to cut myself open solely to prove that my blood is comparable to yours. As if family is some sort of frat I have to pass Greek Week to get into. There will be no hazing here. My last name is irrelevant to the love I share for my sister, although society requires me to mention the step in her title. The only step I’ll be taking is to get closer to her. Fate does not call for a birth certificate.

I took a train every Friday where I came across a girl named Faith. Ironically, she held hope that one day her biological father would come back for her. When asked to draw her family in class, she left vacant spaces next to the drawing of herself. She posted missing person signs on her heart. Pushing back every ounce of love her adopted parents handed to her as if they were spoon-feeding her rat poison. She told me as the months turned into years, she slowly realized her wishes were a lost cause. Her shouts were interrupted by the beep of a number no longer in service. She put her coins into a charity for the community jail her father called home. She tells me that labels can really make you focus on the scrambled roots rather than the entire family tree. She says “Dad” is not the name you give to a man not ready to care for a child. “Dad” is not an obligation. “Dad” is a full-time job that carries love in the job description.”Dad has been there all along. He checked in when my sperm-donor checked out.”

Family. What does it mean to you?

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