As my birthday approaches each year, I tend to become pensive about, well, my birth. This is significant because I am an adopted, only child. I am very lucky, I was raised by a wonderful mother and father. I have always known I was adopted, but there are have been things, no matter how wonderful my adoptive family is, that bug me.
There are certain things that children raised in their natural families take for granted. For starters, I never get tired of hearing people say things to my kiddos like, "Wow! They all look like they belong together" or "He looks JUST like his big sister." And the one that really warms my heart is when people tell me "OH! He/she looks just like his/her mommy." That one really never gets old. People take the fact that they look like their family for granted, some may even resent it, but what it gives you is a sense of belonging, a visual representation of an unspoken bond. I was so excited when my second child was born looking like my own little mini-me (minus her Shirley Temple curls).
When I was little I always thought it was so funny when people would tell me that I looked like one of my parents (My dad is 6 feet 4 inches and fairly thin, my mom is 5 feet 6 inches and also really thin. Meanwhile I am a mere 5 feet 1 inch and built like a square). I would always give them a sort of sideways look when they made those comments and make a point to tell them, "Really? Because I am actually adopted."
I am sure that people were just looking for similarities because they knew we were related, something to say for small talk, but it felt weird. It felt like they were stretching, or even worse, not really looking. While we all shared the basics; brown hair and blue eyes, I found it hard to believe they could mistake my parents' angular features and skin with the envious ability to tan for coming from the same gene pool as my round, freckled face, paper-white skin, and shoulders so wide that there was little chance that I wouldn't be an excellent swimmer. It wasn't until I had children of my own that it really dawned on me how precious something as simple as looking like your family really was.
The other thing that people who are not adopted take for granted is the ability to ask questions. When I was horribly, horribly morning sick with my second pregnancy I would have given my right arm to be able to turn to someone and say, "Did you have to go through this? How did you cope?" or when my first daughter started talking late it would have been so helpful to say to someone, "Did anyone else in the family start talking after two?"
It sounds silly, but it is a privilege to be able to look the doctor in the eye and answer when you are pregnant with your first child and he asks, "So, do any birth defects or pre-term labor issues run in your family?"
Yes, I love my parents. Yes, I was very lucky that my birth mother and father were strong enough to give birth to me and sacrifice in an unimaginable way to give me a life with everything a child should have. Sometimes I feel wrong wanting more than that, like I should be grateful for what I do have. But, then someone will say something like the lady at church last Sunday who turned to me and commented, "Oh Starman looks so much like Snowflake, there is certainly no arguing that those two belong to the same family," and I start to pine for all those things that my children will never have to question, but will probably never appreciate.