With my son's arrival came something magical: a blood relative I could hold on to.Wow. Just wow. Zoe is my wondering girl when it comes to adoption, so I always wonder what biological motherhood might mean to her. Right now, she's convinced she'll adopt, since both the sex part and the labor part sounds completely gross to her, but I wonder if she'll stick to that (oh, I know the sex-is-gross part is going to get jettisoned, I'm not THAT naive!).
Family, I know, is not about genes. When you are born in Asia and raised by white Midwesterners and have nine cousins with blue eyes and fair skin, you learn that families can be cobbled together.
But adoptees must believe in the power of biology. What else ties us to our mothers, our fathers, who left us decades ago? Shared biology allows us to tell ourselves that someone out there still longs for us, still weeps for us, still dreams we will figure out how to get home. We yearn for these shadowy figures and the answers only they can reveal.
At the heart of it, though, is the simplest of things. It would be nice to know someone who looks like you.
Those first months as a mother, I searched for my own features in my son's face. We shared deep brown eyes and inky hair, but no distinctive characteristics. "He looks Asian," said a friend, "but he doesn't look like you." I snapped hundreds of photos, but had none of my own to compare them with.
Then a few weeks before my first Mother's Day, while cleaning out my desk, I happened upon a forgotten black-and-white image: Perched on her foster mother's lap is a girl wearing a cap and a checkered wool outfit, just days away from settling in another land, another language.
Chubby-cheeked and full-lipped, she looks timid and bewildered. I knew that look.
I laughed, then cried, then cried some more.
The face is vaguely my son's. And in that moment, I understood that in him are echoes of my birth mother, my birth father.
In all these years, I have never searched for them, believing it would prove fruitless. Yet somehow they have found their way here.
My boy doesn't look like me. He looks like us.
3 months ago