Blood Is Thicker Than Water . . . Or Is It?

Scenario 1: You’re out with your friends and you’re in charge of keeping an eye on your younger sister. She’s a bit annoying, always tagging along and often saying dumb things. But when your friend makes a rude comment, your blood boils and you defend your sister. That’s right. Because no one, and I mean no one, hurts your sister. And that’s because blood is thicker than water. Right? You feel a responsibility to defend and protect your sister. You’re family. Blood is thicker than water.

Scenario 2: You’re out with your friends and you’re in charge of keeping an eye on your younger sister. She’s a bit annoying, always tagging along and often saying dumb things. But when your friend makes a rude comment, your blood boils and you defend your sister. That’s right. Because no one, and I mean no one, hurts your sister. And that’s because your love is greater than blood lines, right? You have always felt and continue to feel a responsibility to defend and protect your sister. You’re family. No matter whose blood runs through your veins.

It has been said that blood is thicker than water. We interpret that to mean that genetic connections are stronger than those we have with people to whom we are not genetically related. In other words, family through genetics offers strength. But if you do a quick Google search, you will find that this isn’t what the origins of this quote even means. Not “blood is thicker than water,” rather “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” This actually refers to the blood that is lost during battles creating a stronger bond than genetics. That bond, the brotherhood of soldiers fighting for a common cause, is greater than any other.

I do not plan to march into battle, wielding a sword, prepared to conquer my foe. But I do know what it’s like to fight quiet, silent battles. And I know what it’s like to feel connected to those who fight alongside me. And I know what it’s like to want to fight alongside others, to share their burdens, or relieve them entirely. Brotherhood. Sisterhood. Parenthood. I have felt the love and deep connection to those who are not genetically mine.

My children are probably the best example of how thin blood really is. My beautiful children, blessings through adoption, are manifestations of the powerful bond that occurs between individuals who love each other . . . individuals who are bound by a common goal. Our family goal is a lifetime and eternity together, as a family.

Our family is created by our love. It makes no difference what blood that runs through our veins. We are family because of what we believe, and we believe in each other. We believe in our family. We believe that strength comes through enduring trials and “bleeding” together. We believe that we can be the good in the world. We believe that our family expands as we embrace one another. We believe that our family is the covenant  . . . and though the water of the womb is an important part of our family, and we honor that part . . . it’s the cause, the bloodshed on the battlefield that glues our family together. The beautiful blessing about open adoption is that those genetic bloodlines—“the water of the womb”—can become a part of our family cause. They can be embraced among your family and fight the battles alongside. When our hearts are open, they become a part of our family covenant . . . just as anyone else would who is invited in. Family truly isn’t about genetics at all. It’s about the heart and those who are on your team.

Ask me, in our modern take, if blood is thicker than water? And my modern day answer would be . . . most definitely not.

But take me back to the origin of this mis-adapted quote and I would confidently declare that, yes indeed, the blood of the covenant is much thicker than the water of the womb.

And there, I find my family.