I love seeing the photographs of others’ siblings and parents. The similarities in their anatomical features: the similar smiles, the same stance, mirrored features.
Last week, someone posted a photograph of her brother as a child. It was amazing to see her biological children’s faces in this image taken many years before they were born. I found myself typing about the similarities, but then, I stopped myself. She has one son who is adopted. Quickly, I hit the delete key.
Knowing her son might see my comment, I wanted to spare him the sadness of never sharing the sameness. I know that sadness; however, it was often tempered with my family forgetting my foreignness.
The birth of my children solidified my biological place in my own little family. I realize for many adoptive parents who, like my own, never thought they would see their eyes gaze up at them, that fact is so very difficult to bear. I empathize. I understand the joy an adoptee can bring to a childless couple … how we ease the pain. Yet, here I implore adoptive parents to recognize and address the added pain their adopted child experiences when she has no physical frame of reference.
Selfishly, I finally delight in the comments, “Oh, your son and daughter look just like you!” Bear with me. This time of seeing myself in another human being has brought me joy amidst the childhood pain of never experiencing this reflection of self in someone else.
I want to thank you for your comment about hitting the delete key in commenting on family resemblances when there is an adopted child in the family. I did the same thing a couple of days ago.
Our oldest son and his wife (domestically) adopted a child of mixed (father unknown, possibly Hispanic) race three years ago. On Wednesday, our daughter-in-law gave birth to their second child. Of course, iPhones in hand, pictures of the new baby quickly made their way to family members in far flung places. One of the pictures struck me as bearing a strong resemblance to one of our daughter-in-law's younger sisters. I started to make a comment to that effect, then, remembering your statement above, I quickly deleted it. Later, a family member posted a comment about the baby's facial expression being a "Grandma" (with specific reference to my mother, the baby's great-grandmother) face.
Your blog, and the blog posts at "Lost Daughters" (both of which I've only recently become aware of) have made me wonder how granddaughter #1, who has been the "apple of her parents' eyes," is going to react to this new, obviously different, obviously more like her cousins in appearance, little sister.
They live 700 miles from us, so I don't see them often, but I really want to know how to best relate to these two precious children in the healthiest way possible (for both of them), especially as they grow older.
I know every child, every family, and every situation, is different, but I would really appreciate any insights you could give me in doing everything I can to make granddaughter #1 feel as special as she is, and to ease her "adoption tensions" (if that phrase even makes sense).
Thanks Kathy, for reading. I wish I could tell you more, but as you acknowledge here, every adoptee is different as every story is.
My situation sounds very much like your granddaughter's as I was the oldest, and my little sister (my parents’ biological child) came six years later. Our relationship has always been as close as could be expected. My sister is my sister. She understands my struggles in not seeing that biological likeness. My family is very sensitive to that, and I appreciate it. Their support in my search speaks volumes.
Support her and love her as you do the new grandbaby. When comments are made, acknowledge her place in the family and find out how she feels. Dialogue goes a very long way.
I am not an expert in any of this, but I have lived my life as an adoptee and my thoughts here and on Lost Daughters are offered to help others understand some of the inner conflicts adoptees have. Thanks again for reading!
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