I dont believe in making resolutions at New Year's. I'm lame and after a few days of effort, give in. I have no will power. So, instead, I've decided to pick 2 things that I'd like to work on in 2010 (and beyond). They are big goals that cant be accomplished in a year, so maybe I can give it a try...
I'd like to have more self control. Lumped into this is trying to tame my Irish temper (poor Peter would really appreciate this I'm sure) and have the fortitude to actually make it to the gym 3x a week. Secondly, I'd like to learn more patience. Unfortunately, my mom making me open and shut the door (I'd just slammed) a hundred times to give me "patience, a virtue YOU dont seem to have" (imagine that in a sufficiently MOM sounding voice) didnt accomplish much (save a desire to slam the door when she wasnt within earshot). Neither did copying Bible passages when I smarted off (although I do credit her with my love of religious studies, so I did gain something there, if not the intended patience). So... Those are two things I think I'll keep in mind this year, with the hopes of having a little more self control and a bit more patience once 2011 hits... We shall see...
I've been meaning to write this post for a while now, ever since my mom and grandmother visited in mid-November. It's been sloshing around in my head for a while and I just havent been able to put it together. Then I read a post from Donna and my mom called to tell me something (see below) that made me realize I really should write this post and get it out there.
It's no secret that I'm adopted (well, maybe to some folks it is). So, my mom calls me yesterday (or the day before, I dont remember... days seem to run together) and tells me that a coworker was looking at a picture of the babies and I, and couldnt stop gushing about how much my mom and I look alike. Mom, being Mom, thanked her and smiled (and then called me!). Tickles us both pink, although I feel bad that folks think my mom is old enough to have a daughter my age... She's really quite young for that! But I digress... Back to the why I wanted to write this post...
When Mom and MaMaw were visiting, we were discussing the coloring of the kids, that Maya is so light and Bobby has a more olive complexion. I was about to say that he inherited Peter's Greek/Puerto Rican complexion when my grandmother busts out with (to Bobby) "It's because you take after the Indian side of the family" (by Indian, I mean Native American, Cherokee to be more exact). This opened a conversation about the different NA tribes in our family, but most of all, it really hit a nerve.
Growing up, I always felt different. Mamaw and my Aunt Shirley were probably the two matriarchs that made me feel most like I wasnt different at all. They rarely, if ever, brought up my adoption and used to say things like I took after Aunt S because I burned toast (an inside family joke). Their children (my aunts and cousins) never treated me any different because we didnt share biology. But, for whatever reason, the thing that always stuck out to me were the people who did. Why their opinion mattered so much I will never know, especially when I was surrounded by people who didnt care how I was born and came into the family any more than they cared what color socks they put on for the day. I was family and that was that.
As much as I thought I'd put the whole "I'm adopted" thing, as it relates to feeling different or out of place, behind me in a way, it wasnt until Mamaw said that Bobby took after our Cherokee family that it really hit me. No one else thinks about it. No one else views me "that way". To them, I'm family. I'm a granddaughter or a niece or a cousin. My children are, of course, their family. And not just in some loose sense. In them, they can see some great-uncle somebody or great-great-great grandma's nose. And it makes perfect sense. Because they are family.
Of course I look like my mom. She's my mom. I have her mannerisms and share (some of) her likes and dislikes, although I think I have more of an attitude problem than she does. :) And, of course, Bobby takes after the "Indian" side; why shouldn't he? (And, just as a postscript, Native American tribes are well known for adopting children into tribes and those children weren't viewed as any different from children born into the tribe). So, maybe I'm lighter in skin. But, if Bobby and Maya have taught me a small thing, it's that a strawberry blond, blue eyed, ivory skinned little girl can have a dark skinned, purely PuertoRican grandmother... And an olive skinned, brown haired and eyed little boy can be born from a very light skinned mother. Looks mean very little- and these kids have half of my genetic make up.
Combined, our family has people from every background and from every continent, save Antarctica. And we are all family. Some of us married in. Some were born from the womb and others from the heart. But that is just one thing, like our eye color or our hair color. It's our love that makes us family. The rest... Just an adjective to our noun.
Who would have thought that, after all this time, it was me that didn't really get it.
As you'd expect, your comments hit home for me, though on the "Adoptive Mom" side of things - so I am VERY interested to hear what your reactions to such comments are, as we fret (on our end) about those to come . . .
We actually make a conscious effort to not praise Lil Pumpkin on the beauty of her Asian eyes, but rather tell her that the most beautiful thing about her is her smile, which is something any child can have. We actually joke, and it's universally accepted on both sides of the family, that Lil Pumpkin has "The Smith Bum" (not our real last name of course), meaning that like all of the offspring on her father's side of the family, she has the teeniest, cutest, two-little tangerines for a bum. LOL.
LP has said that "Mummy, I hope my baby sister has hair just like yours, it's so pretty!" to which I typically say something like, "Really? I hope she has your smile and kissable lips!" And then LP often remarks, with a giggle, "Just hope not Daddy's big nose!"
I was encouraged (in adoption-research I did) to focus on the similarities as a family that weren't necessarily biological, such as "We are a family in which everyone likes to go hiking" or "likes peanut brittle" to help a younger child (who was adopted) see the other ways in which commonality and bonds exist.
My aunt (one I am closest to) often chuckles at how stubborn and dramatic LP is, "exactly like her mother!" and I can tell my Aunt doesn't see a difference in that (i.e the adoptive aspect is not a factor), just as she remarks that LP's closest cousin is "moody and more of a sitter like her mother" (which is a bio-child relationship). I do believe that both nature and nurture play important roles in our lives. Like LP's obsession with consuming mass quantities of fruits and veggies?! Yeah, NOT from her father nor I (but we're happy about it!) Is it something bio-related to her birth family, or ethnic to her being Chinese?! I dunno, but it's a good thing nonetheless.
Oh, and as for "patience" . . . LOL, girlfriend, I have long thought patience was highly overrated. I am fond of saying "Patience has gotten me nowhere. But being proactive has gotten me everything, including Lil Pumpkin."
THANK YOU for discussing these types of thoughts and comments, especially as a grown-up, and how they were handled (and what influences and effects they may have had on your life). It's very helpful for adoptive parents like myself.
I love reading posts like this, especially since we are now pursuing embryo adoption. I always wonder what it will be like for our little ones.
Thank you for sharing this post. The more I read about your adoption story it convinces me that adoption is a great option if Mike and I can't carry to term. Thank you Michele!!
lovely post - so true
What a beautiful post. It just proves how blood really doesn't matter when you have true, deep love to hold you close. THAT is what makes a family.
I love reading your thoughts on adoption. Thank you for sharing.
Patience is a virtue I do not possess! Not the most flattering, but true. I'm (constantly) working on it. The IF journey is the greatest patience lesson I've ever undertaken.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and insight. I love so many things about blogland - the support and encouragement, of course. But I also love when I can walk away from a post feeling that I learned something or gained some greater insight. It makes us all better people, I think.
Don't they say you start looking like your partner after being with them for years and years? I think it was in some research paper. I still think you look like your dad :)
Anyways what a great post. At the end of the day we're all related in a universal type of way and will all return to being one with the Earth.
This is such a beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing this, and for talking about things like this - as a DE wannabe mom, it does me good to be reminded that my child is going to belong to my family because they're my child - not because they look like me or my parents. I needed this post today - thank you.
I'm not adopted, but I know what you mean. My step-father is my DAD and I love it when I hear people say I do things just like him. It means so much.
This is a beautiful post.
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