Thursday, May 28, 2009


In adoption, and perhaps especially transracial adoption, being alike/being different is a recurrent theme. Here's a fairly typical conversation, shared by Dawn at This Woman's Work:

The other day Madison said to me, “Lucia looks like you.”

Lucia is my niece and Madison is right — Lucia does look like me. She looks exactly like my sister and my sister and I don’t look that alike but we must a little because
Lucia looks just like my sister and a little like me. She definitely has my coloring. So I agreed with Madison. Then she said, “And I don’t like it! I want to look like you!”

I told her the truth.

“Well, I’m glad you don’t look like me because you’re prettier than I am.”

“Oh Mommy! You’re pretty, too,” she told me.

“I am,” I agreed. “I am very good looking but you are better looking. You’re downright beautiful. I love having such a beautiful daughter.”

Then we hugged a bunch and she seemed satisfied.

Zoe's first I-want-to-look-like-you conversation was actually really funny. She was 3, and had gotten her hair cut short and looked adorable. We're driving (always in the car, these conversations!), and she says, "I want to get a hair cut again." I explained she just got a hair cut and we wouldn't get another one for weeks and weeks. She replied, "But I want my hair like yours." Mine was super-short, and I answered, "Oh, sweetie, you don't want yours as short as mine!" Her immediate reply, "No! I want it to be GRAY!" Ouch!

I was talking to a friend today and another alike/difference issue came up. Her daughter, adopted from China, seems to be in a rejection phase when it comes to her birth mother. She insists that her adopted mom is her "only mom." As we talked, she mentioned that her daughter describes her birth mother (who, of course, is completely unknown to her) as wearing a flowered dress and high heels, and having long hair.

We were speculating about where this description came from, and I asked my friend, "When was the last time you wore a flowered dress and high heels (being pretty sure I knew what the answer was!)?" And the immediate answer was "long before my daughter came home from China." Aha! I'm thinking her daughter is making sure her birth mom and adopted mom are in separate boxes, being completely different from each other. (As you know, I'm not a psychologist, I only play one on blogs!)

So how has being alike/being different come up in your household? Please share your conversations in the comments.


Melissa said...

J and I laugh at our physical differences, usually. She is going to tower over me, and my nose is way too big! But she notices that we both have very analytical minds, and that we love math and problem-solving. We both think of the same puns or twists on the meanings of words at the same time. We both like to build things. It's critical that she be the one who actually notices these similarities for herself; if I were to point them out, then it seems like I'm forcing it.

Anonymous said...

Mother with another towering daughter here too. I think she's on her way to 5' 5" by the time Grade 7 begins in September. I'm 5' 2 1/2". What I love about such differences is they are a way to bring original family into the conversation so easily. My daughter is not one to bring up the topic on her own.

Melissa, we also share some of these same things! Analytical ability, crazy sense of humour. . .my daughter endlessly sings, rhymes, puns. My mother was an incurable punster and we used to have a rule that she was not allowed to pun before 6pm. Simone's godfather has a lovely expression--wafting your genes into your child. Not politically correct in some circles but what the heck. I agree, these similarities I never point out.

Ann BF said...

Having a mix of bio and adopted kids means the who alike/different thing comes up a lot. I do get irritated/bored with the obession acquaintences seem to have with how much bio kids look like their parents...
Beyond physical appearance... sometimes my husband and I have debated the whole nature/nuture thing, using our kids as a limited sample for study! And while we share a lot, the differences in personality among my three gentically unrelated chiuldren could not be more striking. And the similarities between my bio son and aspects of his Dad and my personality are also striking. So I think theres a lot of gentic encoding under there. At times I have felt that makes my adopted kids "easier" to parent in a way -- we are not so much alike that we have the some issues/hot spots as each other!

malinda said...

Very interesting, ladies! Thanks for sharing.

In terms of personalities in our house, Zoe and Maya couldn't possibly be more different. The first words most people come up with to describe Zoe are "intense" and "focused." Not words that would come to mind for Maya! She's "laid back," and "happy-go-lucky."

What's really funny, is that as different as they are, those are both sides of my personality!