By an Adopt4Life Community Parent
I did not expect to come into adoption to be matched with a child that looks very like me. As a matter of fact, I had seriously considered international adoption and for quite some time expected that my child would look very different than myself physically. Through the twists and turns of my journey, instead of finding myself with a dark-skinned, curly-haired little one as I had imagined, I was matched locally with a blond-hair girl with big brown eyes who, even before I met her, had her hair parted on the same side I do.
For many Children’s Aid Societies having children that physically “match” their adoptive families is an important factor and so I don’t know if that played a big part in the two of us becoming a family. Certainly she also matched me in many other ways as well, but our appearances are uncannily similar.
So we have the mixed blessing of no one knowing that we’re an adoptive family when we’re out in the world. This has provided anonymity and discretion when we might prefer not to share, or even just to “blend in” which I know is often not easy or even possible for families who do not look physically very similar. However, it often means that people make a lot of assumptions about us (also probably true about most adoptive families). As a matter of fact, many acquaintances or professionals that we have only occasional dealings with, usually forget that we are an adoptive family even when they had known previously! (For example, the dental hygienist that insisted that I must have a good singing voice after hearing my daughter sing because “she must have got it from somewhere.”) This brings up its own share of awkward moments.
My daughter was often quite confused by these comments when she was younger. Not understanding that others did not know everything she did about the situation, she couldn’t grasp why others might comment “you look just like Mommy” when it’s true we look similar, but have no genetic reason for this to be so. Now as she grows, we are often able to exchange a private side smile, or tease each other about it afterwards. A funny dynamic of navigating as an adoptive family.
I am in the process of waiting to be matched again with a second little person and I often wonder how this will change our dynamic, even around little things like our public image. Will a new child again look like me and slide into this familiar dynamic or will they look quite different and be identified more readily as being adopted, and if so, how will that change how my daughter sees her place in the family, how the new child does and how we call come together? Public perception is an interesting thing to reflect on and all the more so in a family brought together through adoption.