Family deserve to be reminded what they mean

Being adopted gives new perspective on family.

Staff writer Michael Rauser and his sister Rachel pose together. Photo submitted. 

Winter break is coming up quickly, and, for many UND students, that means going home to see family.

For me, family has always had an extra special meaning.

For starters, I wasn’t born in America. I was actually born in India, where I spent the first few years of life in an orphanage. I was adopted and brought to North Dakota at the age of 3.

My biological sister was also adopted from the same orphanage in India by the same family.

There is a really cool story behind how this happened. The orphanage my biological sister and I were in happened to have an age cap of 6 years old. However, they didn’t want to separate us, so for several years they kept altering my sister’s age on her birth certificate to say she was 6 longer than she was to keep her there.

So when I was 3 and she was “6,” we were both adopted by an American family from Kindred, N.D., located about 20 miles away from Fargo.

I have always had a uniquely close bond with my sister. We’ve been through a lot together, and she really does mean a great deal to me. Of course we’ve certainly had our typical brother-sister squabbles over the years, but that never affected the connection we share.

Our adopted family has done many great things for us, not the least of which includes getting us out of India and into such a great place like America. North Dakota might not be the coolest place in the world — or even in the country — but it beats growing up in an orphanage in India.

Still, despite how much I appreciate everything my adopted family has done for me, it doesn’t compare to how much my sister means to me. My biological parents died when I was very young. I don’t remember how it happened. I was told that my mother died giving birth to me. My sister is the only living biological family I have left.

It’s not just the fact that we are biologically related that makes us so close, though. It’s that, together, we have survived more than many people could even think possible.

My sister has gone through many struggles in her life, yet she has overcome each and every one. That’s amazing to me, and I will always respect her for it. She’s now happily married and doing very well in life.

Many things have changed in her life for the better recently, but the one thing that never has changed — and never will — is my complete support of her no matter what she’s going through, even if I don’t know exactly what that is.

At the end of the day that’s what makes our connection so strong. It’s not just that we’re related or that we grew up in the same house, but that we have always been there for each other. We always will be.

People who know me know I’m not an emotional guy. I’m not the kind of dude who oozes feelings at every turn. So when I go on and on about how much I care about my sister — and family in general — it definitely means something.

There’s something about losing something that makes you appreciate what you have even more.

Family means so much to me because I know what I have lost.

So when you go home to see your family over the break, just remember that extra special place they have in your heart.

You will have many different kinds of relationships with people throughout your life, but your family will always hold a special importance that no one else can.

Don’t forget to tell your family you love them. Even if you know it and they know it, it will always make them feel just a little bit better inside to hear it said out loud.

Michael Rauser is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].