This I Believe

Allison - Forest Hill, Maryland
Entered on October 29, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family

Blood is not Thicker than Water

I believe the phrase, “blood is thicker than water” is a ridiculous notion. My mother recited this cliché to me as I attempted to explain how I adopted a brother during my last trip to Tennessee. I have two parents and a sister; however, I also have two adopted brothers and two adopted children. The U.S. government does not acknowledge these adoptions because they were made through a religious ceremony of the Sioux-Indian nation.

Dave, my fiancé, is Dakota-Sioux and adopted Flute as his brother over a year ago. I met hims past summer when Dave and I moved into his home. After we settled in, Flute and I became close friends. Traditionally, he would adopt me as his sister because I am going to marry Dave, but it became even more obvious that we would adopt each other as siblings because of how well we got along.

The adoption ceremony, known as Hunkapi, is one of the seven sacred rites of the Sioux people. A special dance is performed by those who attend the ceremony and prayers are sung by a medicine man, also known as a wicasa wakan. Afterwards, there is a feast followed by a presentation of gifts to the guests who attended. For the following seven days, the new relatives exchange gifts. Through this same ceremony I adopted Dan, my little brother, five years ago. As I tried explaining this to my mother she became upset and told me that “it isn’t the same thing.” I do not know where this opposition comes from, but it occurs most often when I mention my daughter and son.

Dave has two children from his previous marriage- Ceilidh and Sage. I have helped raise them; they have always called me ina, which means both “aunt” and “mother.” I love them as if they were my own children, and so I introduce them as such. I have received many snide remarks for calling them my own, from my friends and family. According to my sister, “It is deceitful; you didn’t give birth to them.” Regardless of the lack of blood ties, my brothers and my children help complete my life. I believe in family.