Monday, November 3, 2008

Bio Kids and Adopted Kids in the Family

A reader asks me to post her dilemma to the blog in the hopes of getting suggestions and advice:

I have a lovely almost 8 year old girl adopted from China. I have an 8 month old little cutie, biological boy. I have dark hair and eyes, as does my daughter. My son has traits of my father (the grandfather) and my husband - light hair/blue yes. The recurring question is "WOW, he looks JUST LIKE your husband." In front of my daughter, of course. Now, having read numerous books/blogs from adoptees on the insensitivity of others' comments - I give my answer in a relaxed manner as I ponder. Lately it has been in the form of a compliment for my baby boy:


Me: "Yes, he is cute, isn't he?" (But that's not enough info for them.)

Inquirer: "Oh but can't you see it? (voice gets dramatic.) He is a carbon COPY of your husband!"

Me: "Oh, he IS adorable." (puzzled look, as if I don't hear what they are saying. I
can almost see their thoughts clicking that I lost a few neurons in pregnancy....)

Here's another one:

Me: "The guys in our family have blue eyes, the girls in our family have brown eyes."

Here's one I have thought but didn't use:

Me: Turns the other way and has a different conversation with someone else. Problem is, sometimes we aren't in a crowd!

Then I think - get real !! My daughter is much more observant than I. What makes me think that she won't catch on to my own shenanigans in time?

OK, do I just agree? Or do I tell them the truth - his face is a carbon copy of mine, it's just that they only see the coloring of the child? It's neither here nor there to me. We told our extended families before I delivered that we were going to remove the genetic focus from our family. Sure, heredity is a lovely thing and I am not minimizing it. Our daughter came to us from a larger tribe than our own. But, it's the "insensitivity" of others as it relates to genetic conversations. They aren't being mean, and I am sure I was one of those folks before I adopted. So, how do I answer?

I hope we can offer tons of suggestions to help out this mom! And if anyone else has questions you'd like me to post to the readership, I'd be happy to do so.

1 comment:

SB said...

I agree that this is a tough situation for bio/adopted familes.

I love to see my husband and I "physically" in our biological son, but it doesn't mean I love my adopted daugther any less. I think they can co-exist. We are his biological parents so of course he will look like us and I we acknowledge this simple fact. I certainly don't want him to feel ashamed by it. I'm sure my daughter looks like her biological parents and probably even has some of their mannerisms. And this I also acknowledge with her.

At the same time, however both our children seem to have many shared traits by virtue of living in our family together. The general way we dress, our mannerisms,etc. seem to also be similiar to some extent too. This also puts a smile on my face too.

As my daughter gets older, I sure some day she will express and grieve that she "looks" different than us. I'm sure I'll be beside her crying along with her too. It's something that I cannot change and it makes me sad too that it will cause her pain. All I can do is be there for her and help her work through her thoughts a feelings.

I think it's good to talk this through with your daugther in a private and safe space and find out how she feels about it. Knowing her thoughts on the matter might be useful in knowing what kind of response would make her feel less an "outsider" in these situations.