Family. What is it really? Is it the people assigned to us through blood? Perhaps.
We are born from the union of two people regardless of if they truly love each other or not, and we end up in a world that we will soon learn to realize may not always understand us.
We are all born from the union of two people. Our biological parents may be loving people. But regardless of how much love our parents shared, we soon learn that the world is full of people who do not always understand us. For many Autistics, it does not come as a shock to find that blood means nothing and that presence, love, understanding, and most importantly, patience do.
I, a young non-binary individual, went undiagnosed most of my life. It’s less common for Autistic people of color like me to be diagnosed at all, but I had to spend a massive portion of my life misunderstood, misinterpreted, and even abused before I obtained my door-opening diagnosis. This diagnosis was something I sought out after I realized the deep connection I had with a brilliant fellow student whom I’d come to adore. She was an Autistic woman.
Now, the words “not broken, different” echo in my mind and very much in my heart. I remember thinking this as I began my long journey to obtain my formal diagnosis and self discovery.
Flash forward to years past my time of diagnosis (a late one). I became sick of hiding parts of myself and enduring the enormity of the pressure of psychological and physical abuse throughout my life. That pressure weighed on me, and so I decided to take a vacation. A vacation to visit two Amazing people whom I had come to know in my spiritual venture as it paralleled my life, diagnosis, and further adventure into my self.
Little did I know, these two amazing people would be known officially and permanently as Mama and Papa when they would come to adopt me as their own.
I know what you may be thinking. How can one be adopted in adulthood? To answer a question with a question, I ask my readers this, how could one not be adopted so as long as there are people willing to take you in, love you, and teach you?
Adoption, after all, is a lesson. It is mentorship in what it is to be loved as you are and in all you can become. This can happen no matter the age or circumstance you exist in. And so, I was adopted.
For Autistics, just as common as it is for us to be mistreated and our abused, it is equally common for us to make unbreakable and deep connections to others. These connections become our “Chosen Family” — as my big sister and fellow advocate, “The Autistic Wolf” taught me — people who’ve mutually chosen each other out of love and necessity and a deep human symbiosis. We find our herd, our pack, our tribe.
My family saved me, and so I write this with a full and happy heart so that fellow Autistics and beautiful fellow humans in general may know.
Family is not simply experienced by Blood. Family is by spirit, by heart, and by connections we make. Family is who is present. Family is who is there, and wherever they are, that is home.
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