We are a visible family. We have 5 kids and not one of them looks like me (although a couple of them act like me!). It’s obvious that they’re “ours” and that we adopted them. Our visibility opens the door to a lot of questions; it goes with the territory.
People wonder about a lot of things, but one of the biggest (to them) is this: Will they be “ours”? I now know that this is code for – “What if they are too different from you?”
This is a hard topic for an adoptive mom to tackle. We never expected our kids to be carbon copies of us. We aren’t that “live vicariously through your kids” couple. We were grateful that our girls did not get my “female trouble” genes and that none of them inherited my hubby’s familial lack of musicianship. We looked forward to seeing who they were and what life looked like through their eyes.
That said, we cannot ignore the fact that there are differences. I did not realize it when we started on this journey 17 years ago, but just as all families have “issues” –both medical and emotional — the fact that these issues prevail in families makes them somehow easier to cope with. For instance, babies in my family are hairy, frequently born with cataracts, early walkers, not “spitty,” late teethers — you get the picture. With adoption, you don’t know what you’re getting; if it’s an infant, a little stranger is placed in your arms. When our first daughter had colic, I knew how to cope; my sister’s first daughter did too. When my second had reflux, it threw me for a loop. When our fifth was not walking at 16 months, I was convinced he was doomed. Finally I dug out the paperwork and learned that number 3 and 4 had walked at 18 and 16 months respectively; in their family, late walking is the norm.
This goes on throughout childhood. One child has a genetic condition that causes painful underarm cysts and a tendency to keloid; she has soft ear cartilage and can’t pierce her ears; she has ADD and anemia. All of this is normal in her family. Another has PCOS (like her birth mother); another has a very severe under-bite that will require surgical correction.
I am not complaining. It is simply a fact of adoption that there is a lot we don’t know. But that goes with the territory and it doesn’t make them any less ours. One of my daughters is a gifted athlete and an extremely talented musician, playing several instruments, composing music, and singing. (Thank goodness she doesn’t have our genes!). Another is artistic and very brainy; she started reading at 3-1/2; she gets straight As; she sailed through her SATS with no preparation. She will get a load of academic scholarships for college. The little ones are still unknowns but one is a vocabulary encyclopedia and another extremely athletic.
They are all sensitive and caring and smart and beautiful and funny. Yep, they’re ours!