Meet Allison, a lovely young-thirty-something teacher. This is how my husband and I used to tell people about her:
Us: Our adopted daughter Allison is coming to visit this weekend.
People: Oh, you adopted a girl? That is so wonderful; now you have a daughter along with your two boys. Do they get along well? How long ago did you adopt?
Us: Uh, no…not that kind of adopted. Actually, she kinda adopted us…
Until recently, that’s the best way I could find to describe my relationship with a woman just barely young enough to be my biological daughter (if I’d started young myself). A woman I love like a daughter/younger sister/niece/friend. She’s also my favorite adventure buddy, ready to pop on her backpack and follow me up steep ridges at very little notice. Had we been given the option at an early enough stage, we surely would have adopted her. But Al came into our lives a bit more gradually than that.
When I taught high school, Al showed up in my Sophomore Honors English class. She wasn’t a squeaky wheel; she certainly wasn’t the most talented writer. She was a neat kid whom I liked, but never considered I made much impression on her.
In her junior year, she signed up for a 3-hour pilot program, a block class called International Business and Global Studies. With the independent thinking IBGS promoted, Al hit her stride and became a bit of a star in the class. She also, to my surprise, became a cheerleader–a very serious, hardworking one. But again, I didn’t think we had that strong a connection. Plenty of other students seemed to need me more.
So, a year later, when my husband and young kids and I were enjoying his sabbatical year in southern New Zealand, I was surprised to receive a request from Allison: could she come visit? She’d always wanted to travel, and had managed to convince her mom to give her the trip to NZ as an early graduation present, since she had a built-in place to stay. Here’s the conversation I had with my husband about it:
Me: Yeah, she wants to come stay for, like, 10 days. Might be nice to have someone to help with the boys. She’s very responsible. She’s a straight-A kid, a cheerleader…
Husband: A CHEERLEADER?? Here? For 10 days?
Oh, get over the stereotype, tons of cheerleaders are very smart and serious. Yes.
Long story short: Allison came. Her second-ever plane trip–flying solo to New Zealand! She ended up extending her trip so she stayed three weeks. The boys loved her. My husband was deeply impressed with her. And we all adopted each other.
Next year when she started college and her own family was going through a tough time, she moved in with us for a while.
So…our adopted daughter. Our relationship has only grown deeper as she’s become a teacher too, and a singer & guitar player, and a competitive athlete like I used to be. But still–kinda awkward to keep having to explain it to people.
But a few months ago it finally hit me: she’s my goddaughter! No, her mother and father never initiated that relationship in a ceremony. No, church was never involved. No, we have no official documents. But that phrase seems to capture the nature of our relationship perfectly.
That got me to thinking about the word. Goddaughter. Godson. Godkid.
We all know what it means: an assumption of love and co-responsibility. Parenthood without biology. Parenthood with built-in distance, maybe some legal assumptions, but nothing one would go to court about. Parenthood especially blessed by a higher authority.
But think about it: Godkid. How cool is that word? Doesn’t it conjure up all kinds of images?
So I thought I’d ask my readers: what does “godkid” mean to you? Do you have any, either church-related or secularly? Are you one yourself? Do you like the word? Is there another one that fits better? Let us hear!