Sunday, May 2, 2010


Last week my grandma got to meet Cy, if only for a few minutes. It was not her first great-grandchild, but her smile was goofy enough, her eyes bright enough, he could've been.

My dad has nearly cried over our little man and called him "precious" and "perfect" on several different occasions.

I have never once worried that I wouldn't feel attached to him because I didn't carry him, or because he wasn't a part of me.

You see, when Grandma left his side that day she kept repeating how he was a Holzhauser. In fact, the first male Holzhauser since her own sons were born. I mean, she has grandsons, but none has the name. The name.

I guess I was surprised at Grandma's awesome response. Cyrus is, technically, not at all related to Grandma. I am adopted, married to a woman, and that woman had a baby with some random guy's sperm. That's how not related we all are. But she was overwhelmed with happiness and awe. I could tell.

I can only attribute all of these great responses to my own adoption. Mom and Dad have had 30 years to learn what it means to love a child that didn't have their DNA. Actually, my whole extended family is awesome that way. No one ever treated me differently because I was adopted (they did treat me differently when I started dying my hair green and dating girls...). In fact, there's a family secret I can't reveal, but let's say, the Holzhausers have had their share of calling someone else's kid their own.

* * *

This is all feeling overwhelming because of my recent subscription to This spring there have been two genealogy shows on tv: Faces of America on PBS and Who Do You Think You Are? on NBC. I was addicted to both. It's because of my adoption that I want to know where I came from, why ancestry is so cool, why it was important that I find my biological parents. Spike Lee found out that his Great x3 grandfather might have been his greatx3 grandmother's owner. Master and Slave. It's hard to know.

If I'm researching correctly, I've traced several of my own lineages back to England in the 1500s and Ireland in the 1600s. No, I'm not kidding. Of course, when we trace our lines, we're assuming that both partners in every marriage were faithful, that what is written is absolutely true. C'mon, ancestors, I know there were adoptions and illegitimate children all over the place. Babies left at churches, babies sent to other families and assimilated. So, why do we even bother to learn our family's past?

Are we searching for a social history or biological one? I have always worn my name proudly, but now I'm finding that biologically, it seems I'm barely German. I'm 6th, 7th, and 8th generation American. I'm American as Jazz, as Rap, as saggy pants, as fanny packs. And maybe it's strictly an American thing to trace ourselves back, to naively believe that those names and dates tell a full history of a person.

* * *

My son will grow up with a piece of himself missing, like I felt. His half adoption could turn into teenage angst and curiosity. He could not care at all.

I've struggled in the past years to really understand what it means to be a Holzhauser. My Grandma was teary-eyed saying the name over and over. Obviously, that's her married name. Does she consider herself a Holzhauser, too?

I've only known the family I've grown up in, and I'm still trying to figure it all out, trying to see us/them from the outside. We are a loud, stubborn, obnoxious, competitive, talkative, resilient bunch.

So far, Cyrus, you act just like a Holzhauser.

1 comment:

  1. "We are a loud, stubborn, obnoxious, competitive, talkative, resilient bunch."
    Yes, you are. I looked up the definition of Holzhauser in the dictionary and that's exactly what it said. ;)

    I love this post. I love that your grandma calls my mom and brags about you & Mindy & Cyrus. I love the memories that I have of us growing up and being stupid. I love that you are using this life to do what makes YOU happy. If Cyrus has even inherited a 1/10th of what you've got, then he's gonna grow up to be one bad ass Holzhauser the likes of which the world has never seen!

    -Myra "Not a Holzhauser but equally as awesome" Crump