What Family Means to Me

By Marcus Williamson

Marcus, Isaiah, Zander and Melanie Williamson.

Marcus, Isaiah, Zander and Melanie Williamson.

Growing up, my family really valued the importance of our last name. We took a lot of pride in being the Williamsons. Family was blood, and it was always thicker than water.

But my understanding of family began to shift over time.

When I moved to Columbia, South Carolina, I learned what it looked like to be family with the church I was attending. There’s this language of adoption in the Bible that discusses how people who follow Jesus are a part of a family together. It stuck with my wife and me as we helped a few people from Columbia start a church in Knoxville.

After moving to Knoxville, my wife and I began looking at starting a family of our own, but we struggled with infertility. It was a very tough season, but with our faith, both of our families and our church family, we weathered a lot of it.

A couple of years into infertility, my wife believed the Lord was nudging us to consider fostering. I hadn’t thought about it before, but if my wife felt strongly that the Lord was nudging her after praying about it and thinking through it, then that was enough for me to trust and step out on faith.

To our surprise, we received a call about a baby boy who needed foster parents. Since most people want to foster babies, it’s rare to receive a call that there’s one in need of care. Needless to say, we were overjoyed about the opportunity to foster a baby after not being able to have one biologically.

Since we started fostering Zander as a baby, there was always the goal of reunification. As such, the foster care agency attempted to reconnect Zander with his biological family a few times. With the possibility of a successful reunification looming over me, I worried about how attached I should be as a foster parent without my heart getting ripped out.

Thankfully, a friend let me know that this was the wrong question to be asking. Whether Zander was reunited with his biological family or not, he needed 100 percent of my effort and energy while he was in our care. That’s what he deserved, and after talking to my friend, that’s what I gave him.

After three years of fostering Zander, my wife and I have officially adopted him. A few months prior, a miracle also happened that allowed us to welcome a biological child into our family. Looking back, it’s amazing how the Lord changed my perspective on what family was. It started out as family is blood, and that’s it. Now, my family is both that and also my church community.

Like the language of adoption says, I’m just as much a father to our biological child as I am to our adopted child. No differences in blood can ever take that away. We’re a family forever.

Marcus Williamson is a senior graphic designer with UT Knoxville Office of Communications and Marketing.