Spoiler alert: Hours before her wedding, the bride’s future mother-in-law, who had it in for her from the jump, revealed the family’s secret: the bride was actually the daughter of the aunt. We later learn that she was the product of a naive 16-year old girl’s summer abroad in Paris. Whatever the circumstances, she needed a home. The family closed ranks and the older, married sister had the honor of mothering her.

While no formal adoption took place in the movie, I was delighted to see that this topic is becoming more mainstream. The act of raising nieces, nephews, cousins and grandchildren is as old as sweet potato pie. My family could certainly be the poster child for this common phenomenon. My maternal grandfather was raised by his paternal grandmother and my paternal grandfather was reared by his father and paternal grandmother, after his mother died. Skip one generation and my brother and I were raised by our maternal grandparents. Our cousins were also co-parented by our paternal grandparents. No social workers, no lawyers, just “bring that baby over here” or “you go on now…get yourself together and leave her here”. You know, your garden variety Black adoption composed of  family elders making binding decisions about who was best equipped to parent. That also seemed to be the back story of the bride’s parentage.

Typically, the post-adoption generation has a fierce need to mother or father their own children. It doesn’t seem to matter if their childhood experience was good or bad, they are determined to be the direct guardian of their seeds. I certainly feel that way and happily witness this play out among my sibling and cousins. I, however, broke ranks and adopted outside the family. Much like my elders, the act of raising someone else’s child is selfless, selfish and good for the community.

Adopt a child. Pass it on.

© 2011

PS: “Jumping the Broom” had a great opening weekend and I was happy to support it.

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