Many years later I got to really know my brother Jack, who had grown up vaguely suspicious that he had been adopted. Jack's adopted parents had both died by the time I met him. He and Berniece and most of the rest of the family had become reconnected in about 1970, while I was living out of the country. It was a great pleasure for me to get to know Jack and his family. Our similarities are remarkable. We look alike, walk alike, and talk alike. We share many of the same interests. Jack named his two children the same as I named two of my children, and his wife was a public school teacher as was my first wife. We both studied engineering in college. I regret that Henry and Bunnie hadn't been able to take both of us in 1936 when Grandpa Henry died. Bunnie has often expressed the same regret.
Over the years I have fully accepted and think of my birth mother and siblings as my extended family. I will never, however, have quite the same relationship with them that I have with the family who nurtured me during my formative years. My real parents are the ones who cared for me when I was sick; who came to high school and college graduations; who celebrated victories and commiserated in the defeats of childhood. True parenting is a two-way human relationship like no other. Giving birth is obviously an important step toward becoming a parent. True parenting happens, however, in the day-to-day relationship between adult and child, regardless of the biological beginnings of the child. It happens when a child is taught about language and customs, humanity and morals, family values and traditions. It occurs when a child in distress is soothed in the loving arms and by words from one who cares about the outcome, regardless of the situation. Biological beginnings are certainly important for genetic heritage but irrelevant to the process of parenting. I will always feel blessed that I was gifted with more than my allotted number of true parents.
--By Robert Hofmann