( Intermediate Level )
Can you imagine searching your family tree to discover your branch was broken? Does the trail just stop? You are not connected to anyone? Or are you?
Recently, Ryan’s history teacher assigned the students to illustrate their family tree. “The world is a big soup pot. Let’s see how many families originated in another country, and when or if they emigrated here.”
“Try to go back as far as you can. Tell us the colors of eyes and hair in your family. Who looks like who. It will be fun to hear your stories!”
Ryan was very excited. He knew his family tree would be immense since he had such a large family. He wanted to use the largest paper he could find to make his tree.
To impress his teacher, he drew a large tree with roots running deep into the earth, signifying the strength of his family.
Both his parents had four siblings each, who married and had children, and as far as he could count, providing he hadn’t forgotten anyone, he had twenty-seven cousins.
He had a few days to complete this assignment so he took his time. He did as much as he could with the information he knew then asked his mom for help with the rest.
Ryan found his mom cooking dinner for the family. His sister was doing her homework at the table and his brother had finished his. He was in the living room watching television.
“Mom, I will need your help filling in areas on our family tree. When you have time, can you help?”
Mary was a bit hesitant in answering. She looked at him then quickly looked away, pretending she had to keep her eyes on what she was doing.
“Yes, of course. Tonight I still have a few things still to do so how about tomorrow, after dinner? After your dad comes home. What I cannot remember he may remember.”
“Sure. It is not due until Friday so I have another two days. Thanks.” He turned and headed into the living room to watch TV with his brother.
Mary was deep in her thoughts that she hadn’t heard Bob come home. She knew this day would come eventually. She and her husband never told Ryan he was adopted.
They felt at the time it would be easier for him to understand what adoption meant when he was older.
When Mary and Bob married and wanted to start a family they had difficulties. The doctors told them that Mary had only one ovary producing eggs so the likelihood of getting pregnant decreased dramatically.
After four years of trying and wanting a family, they adopted Ryan. He brought so much joy to their life. To Mary’s surprise, she did get pregnant two years after the adoption of Ryan and then again after one year.
All the children were treated the same. It never made a difference to either of them that one had been adopted. Ryan was theirs just as much as their biological children.
After the children went to bed, Mary spoke to Bob about the class project. He sat there listening to Mary’s concerns. “Maybe we should have told him earlier,” she told Bob.
“Mary, Ryan is a smart boy. He knows we love him and so does his brother and sister. I think he will be fine. We never showed any favoritism between them. So tomorrow after dinner, we will sit down with him and help him with his class project and explain why we cannot fill in some areas of his tree.”
That night Mary barely slept. She was worried that her son would be crushed. Finding out his family is not really his family. Would he hate her for not telling him sooner?
The children headed to school on the bus. Bob was about to leave and he turned to Mary, “Honey, it will be ok. Promise. I know you didn’t get much sleep last night so try to rest today. I will be home tonight as quickly as I can and we will sit down together to speak with Ryan.”
The day passed quickly and the children were home. “We are going to have an early dinner tonight. Your dad and I will help Ryan with his project. Don’t eat too many snacks and spoil your dinner.”
Dinner was uneventful as the children had other ideas on their minds. Ryan’s mind was on finishing his class project whereas his siblings had finished their homework and could watch television.
Mom cleared the table and put away the leftovers while Ryan went to his room to gather his project. Mary took a deep breath and looked at her husband.
Ryan came running into the kitchen and set his colored pencils and his neatly rolled-up project. He unrolled his masterpiece and held the four ends down with clean coffee mugs.
“Here it is!” showing his work to his parents. ” He looked up at his dad and said, “Dad who in our family has red hair and hazel eyes like me? I remember many names and filled in many areas but no one has my colored hair. I don’t think anyone on Mom’s side has red hair. “
Bob looked up at Mary and saw she was upset so he began,” Well Ryan, you are the only one in our family who has red hair and those beautiful hazel eyes. you are unique in this respect.” He smiled at Ryan as he spoke.
Bob sat down next to Ryan knowing his son was excited to get his project done before its due date tomorrow. He put his arm around Ryan as he began to talk.
“Ryan, Mommy, and I wanted to have children and start our family. For some reason we had trouble. So, we decided after a few years to go to a special place where we found you.”
Ryan was confused at this point. He looked at his mom. “A special place? What does this mean? I do not understand.”
Mary, who had stood quietly while her husband tried to explain now spoke up,” Your dad and I love you very much. You are our son from the first moment we held you. You didn’t come from my belly like your brother or sister but you are our son.”
Ryan remembered a movie he watched and said, “Am I adopted?” Mary looked at her son then to Bob, “Yes.” Those words sent a shudder through Mary. She never thought of Ryan as that. He was her son.
Their son quietly sat there absorbing everything that was said. He looked up and smiled. “I remember my science teacher explaining this before. Grafting he called it. This helps the new tree grow faster and develop more quickly.”
“Many farmers use this trick to have the best quality trees on their farms. I guess this is how I became part of your family. I was grafted onto your family tree.”
Mary sat down next to her son and slid her arm around his shoulders. “Yes, I believe you made our family better Ryan.”
Bob glanced at his wife as he sat down at the table across from the two. Mary looked up and he mouthed the words, “I told you.”
As Ryan looked at his project on the table he wanted to show his branch of the tree as being something special and unique.
He began to split one branch and show how he became part of the family. He knew once he gave his presentation to the class he would have to explain what adoption is.
With the help of his parents, his masterpiece was complete. Including his grafted limb. He took the news of himself being adopted well.
Ryan couldn’t wait to share this newly found information with his classmates. To know how special he was and how grateful he is to be part of this family.
Written by: Angel
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illustrate – verb: explain or make (something) clear by using examples, charts, or pictures
originated – verb: specified beginning
emigrated – verb: leave one’s own country in order to settle permanently in another
immense – adjective: extremely large
signifying – verb: indicating
assignment – noun: a task or piece of work assigned to someone
hesitant – adjective: tentative, unsure, or slow in acting or speaking
pretending – verb: speak and act so as to make it appear that something is true when in fact it is not
deep in her thoughts – adjective: preoccupied by thoughts, thinking very hard
adopted – verb: legally take (another’s child) and bring it up as one’s own
likelihood – noun: probability
dramatically – adverb: in a way that relates to drama
biological – adjective: genetically related; related by blood
favoritism – noun: unfair preferential treatment
spoil your dinner – idiom: eating snacks or food before an actual meal
uneventful – adjective: not interesting or exciting
leftovers – noun: something, especially food, remaining after the rest has been used or consumed
unique – adjective: one of a kind
confused – adjective: unable to think clearly or understand
shudder– verb: tremble
absorbing – adjective: intensely interesting; engrossing
grafting – verb: insert (a shoot or twig) as a graft
glanced – verb: take a brief or hurried look
mouthed – verb: saying something in a whisper or no voice
presentation – noun: a speech or talk in which a piece of work is shown and explained to an audience
masterpiece – noun: exceptional art or work
Question ( s ):
Do you know anyone who is adopted?
If so, did they know at an early age?
Do you think it was a good idea to keep the information of adoption from Ryan for so long? Or should his parents have told him?