January 6, 2012

Who do you look like?

Filed under: Uncategorized — by jeannette4175 @ 8:54 pm
Tags: , ,

Recently I was around a new mother (by adoption).  It was commented by others that her new son looks just like her and he blends into the adoptive family.  I will give them that the baby was caucasian and so was the adoptive family.  The mother has blonde hair and blue eyes and so does the baby.  But I have seen pictures of this child’s mother and sister.  This child does not have the features of his adoptive family but he has the features of his first/natural family.  He looks almost identical to his mother and sister.  I have wondered how this child will feel growing up (he isn’t quite a year yet).  Will it bother him when people say he looks like his adoptive family when he can see he looks like his first family?  I know the people talking about the similarities between the adoptive mother and child are saying that to make the new mom comfortable.  But how will this child feel as he grows up when he hears those things?  Shouldn’t adoption be about the adoptee and not the adoptive parents? FYI – the adoptive parents keep pictures of their son’s mother and sister in his bedroom so he can see them every day and they are in a very open adoption.  There are visits with all extended family including grandparents and they are all treated as if they are one big extended family.

I have watched my husband’s cousin grow up in the family.  She was adopted 18 years ago at birth.  I know when she was little she easily blended in to the family.  She could pass for the biological child of her adoptive parents but now that she is an adult and her features are fully formed she no longer looks like her adoptive parents.  She still has the same coloring as them but her features and body shape are not the same as her adoptive parents or siblings.  The siblings were not adopted but are the biochildren of her adoptive father.  The adoptive parents are very slender with outgoing personalities while the adoptee is on the rounder side and she is very shy and quiet.  She would rather be alone with her horses than entertaining people.

I also know that I was repeatedly told that Allysa looks just like her adoptive family and she blends in so well with them.  Now as an adult you can tell what family she comes from.  She has a lot of my looks with some of her paternal aunt’s looks.  She has my mannerism and she even talks like me.  I was not around her at all from the time she was a week old until the day she turned 18, but she still looks, talks, and acts just like me.

I saw the same thing already happening with Owen.  Last March I heard at his sealing celebration from different people how much he looks like his adoptive family.  He actually is a blend of his first/natural parents (I know shocking right).  So many pictures he looks just like his mom at the same age.  There is definitely faces he makes that are the exact faces his dad makes and then he moves his lips and tilts his head the same way his mom does.  These are things that are inherited and you can not inherit looks from people you are not related to.

In all of these examples the adoptee is told how they look like the adoptive family.  They hear it from the beginning.  Their differences are not celebrated.  The differences are ignored.  These are NOT things I see on the web but have seen in real life, things that have been said and done in front of me.  How does this make the adoptee feel?  Shouldn’t their looks, history, ancestors be celebrated too?  Are just the adoptive families important?  What are we doing when we ignore where adoptees are coming from?  As adoptive parents shouldn’t they be the ones saying “you get your beautiful eyes from your mom, your sense of humor from your dad, the dimples from your grandma”.  Shouldn’t they be the ones making the adoptee proud of where they come from and not ashamed, embarrassed, or uncomfortable?



  1. This was an interesting post to me because I can see it from both perspectives. I agree with you that an adoptee’s differences should be celebrated but it’s also important to feel similarities with your adoptive family as well…at least it was for me. I grew up in a closed adoption (been in contact with my birthfamily for 2 years now) and my parents had no idea what my birthfamily looked like so they weren’t able to comment on it. However, I’m much taller than my family so my parents had no problems saying that I must have gotten that from my birthfamily. My parents never did the whole “you look like us thing” but other people did and still do. My mom and I were out the other day and someone commented that we have the same smile and pretty teeth and as usual we looked at each other and giggled…then my mom said, as usual and very proudly “how interesting that you say that because we adopted this beautiful girl”. To some people, that may hit the wrong way but to me, I love it! My parents have never hidden the fact that we were adopted from anyone and have always taught us to be very proud of how our family was made. Plus, it’s such an opportunity to show the positives of adoption when done correctly….that is with full openness and support of each other.

    I’m trying to do the same thing with my daughter who came to us through adoption (we have a VERY open adoption with her birthfamily). I have to admit that it’s CRAZY how much she looks like us but I see all the features of her bparents for sure! In fact her bmom has very light blue eyes and her bdad has very dark blue eyes and her eyes are a medium blue…the very same shade as mine and my husbands. I do want to make sure that I celebrate her differences and allow her to fully identify with her bfamily as much as she identifies with us. I will say that I worry about outwardly telling everyone that she’s adopted like my parents did because although it never bothered me, it may bother her and at the end of the day, it’s her personal business that I’m sharing with others. It’s feels like such a balancing act at times…..both celebrating her differences but at the same time trying NOT to make her feel TOO different. In fact, I would LOVE to hear your opinions on just that!
    After all, we want to teach her that LOVE makes a family, not genetics (because that is what I truly believe) and that as long as you love one another then you are a family whethere it’s her birthfamily OR her adoptive family. What we ALL have in common is love and nothing is more important that that.

    I want to be really honest about one thing though….when I met my birthfamily for the first time and we were all getting to know one another, one thing that really bothered me was the feeling of being picked apart. To be stared at and told that this or that belongs to “us” is hard. I think part of my feelings had to do with the fact that my bmom has fully acknowledged my parents part in who II am. Anytime I tell her anything, she says “Oh, you get that from me!!!” It’s like an immediate response. I know that nature plays a HUGE role in who we are but if those traits are not nutured and cultivated then who knows what we would end up like? My bsister lives a very different life from me for instance…..she was never taught that education was important and encouraged to reach for her dreams. I was….and now I’m living my dream. Would I be living it if I had been raised in the same house? I would venture to guess not. Now…that’s not to say that I am “glad” I wasn’t raised with her because I just accept what IS and don’t think about what could have been just like I’ve talked about in previous comments on here. I am ok with what IS because I truly believe that this is God’s plan for my life and He never promised it would be easy but it IS INTERESTING!! 🙂
    Love and blessings,

    Comment by Aimee — January 9, 2012 @ 8:49 pm |Reply

  2. Correction: *My bmom had NEVER fully acknowledged my parents part….

    Comment by Aimee — January 9, 2012 @ 8:52 pm |Reply

  3. I never looked like either mom or dad so no comments per se. What bugs me to this day though is meeting people have them search for something to say about looking alike when there isn’t any. Most of the time it is easiest simply to put them out of their misery and tell them I’m adopted. Although sometimes it’s fun to watch them squirm…

    Comment by The adopted ones — January 22, 2012 @ 4:09 pm |Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: