Relating to people you’re related to
My two daughters are the only people I know related to me.
I mean, sure we all “choose” our family in who we choose to surround ourselves with and build relationships with, but as an adoptee, my family chose me. Obviously they chose well, right? But in all seriousness, it means that I didn’t share much biology with my parents.
I have crazy curly red hair, and my mom coached me as a child to answer the question of “Where did you get your hair?” with an answered “The milkman.” I didn’t get the joke until I was in college. But despite the fact that both of my adoptive grandmothers were redheads, it wasn’t their DNA that informed my hair color. My eldest will never wonder where her curls came from, nor will either girl doubt where they got the shape of their mouth. How strange and different their lives will be, with just that tiny amount of knowledge.
I feel like I’m cheating sometimes, because I know my own personality and so I realize that I should probably treat my kids the way I would like to be handled. When my oldest gets sad, I usually snuggle her without talking to her, because I don’t really like people talking to me when I’m sad. But then I second-guess myself all the time- is doing what *I* would like to have done really the right option? I hope so! But I don’t know.
In the same way, I didn’t know what to expect with either pregnancy. My mom had shared my struggle with infertility, but she never carried a pregnancy to term, and so after a certain point, I was on my own. I leaned on my mama friends to hear about birth stories, and paid really close attention to the books, but the details of my own birth were pretty much limited to my birth weight and a touch of jaundice, which apparently is genetic and not the result of smoking through pregnancy. Still, I think often about how strange it must be to know that you were born after 40 hours of labor or that your mom had Braxton-Hicks contractions.
I wonder a lot about what it would be like to have all the information my daughters will have, to grow up with the knowledge that they might actually turn into their mother. Yikes! Or, knowing that, no matter how much they might wish that lady in the grocery store was their “real” mom, that in reality, I am for sure, unequivocally, their “real” mom. Bummer, right? Because that was totally a fun game whenever I felt like my parents were being unfair. It’s almost mean for their sakes that they won’t get to wonder and play the games I used to. Being adopted does come with an awful lot of good pieces, like knowing that you are really and truly wanted by your family, that you were never an inconvenient surprise to your parents. Hopefully my children will know that they were much wanted and are much loved either way. But it’s still confusing, because I don’t know how to relate to people I’m related to!
But then, I guess that’s true of parenting in general. None of us really know what we’re doing, right?