By John Moore -
I remember as a young child, one night in particular, having a very serious
conversation with and about our family. We were gathered together - all nine
siblings and both parents - in a circle of chairs in the kitchen; each one of us
there, or so we thought. And our parents went on to tell us that they don’t want
any empty chairs in heaven- that our journey here on earth was a family pursuit,
and one that they were very serious about.
What we didn’t realize then, was that there was a chair that was missing
from the circle - and a person to accompany that seat.
Our family story changed two years ago, when our Dad told us that he had
fathered a child when he was 19 years old in college (before he met my mother). That baby was put up for adoption by the mother, and she didn’t allow my father to know her name or where she ended up.
A DNA test allowed this “new” sister to track down my Dad and unite with
him, as well as 9 younger siblings that she was not expecting.
My parents showed us pictures, and it was shocking how much she looked
just like the rest of us.
In reality, this story could have gone many different directions. We have
heard horror stories of families who didn’t accept their found relatives, weren’t
very interested, or quite the opposite, where they were welcomed in with open
What we didn’t realize though, was that the outcome of this story had
already been decided in our home, in the decades before we found out we had
In our home(s), from Otero Avenue to Dunsford Drive, there was a culture
of meaning – one of belonging, that my parents instilled in us from the
As Emily Esfahani Smith reminded us, “The renowned psychologist Martin
Seligman says ‘meaning comes from belonging to and serving something beyond
yourself and from developing the best within you.’”
You see, it was easy to open our arms and bring her in as another one of
the siblings. It was easy because our parents had already shown us our purpose
and our meaning: to serve each other and to help each other develop; to support
each other so that we know that we are all in this together- that we belong. We
all felt that sense of belonging with one another, and we knew how much it
would mean to our new sister to feel a part of it.
On May 4th, 2019, we sat together in a circle, no seats missing this time.
We had officially met our new sister just minutes before, and we welcomed her
into our circle of chairs- into our culture of meaning.