So, I’ve been pondering this topic for a minute and am finally sitting down to see if I can parse through some of my own thinking and feeling about a curious phenomenon related to my recent announcement to family and friends that I am adopting Hope.
Last month I posted a cute picture of Hope and me as an announcement of my #pregnantbypaperwork status. The very, very kind and supportive comments flowed. It was lovely, beyond lovely actually. It was super awesome. Numerous people commented, “OMG, you guys even look alike! Match made in heaven” or something like that. I had a lovely chat with a sweet, dear friend who called to check in today. During our chat, she broached this subject of my and Hope’s alleged resemblance tenderly, noting that she wondered if she really saw a resemblance or if it was some kind of way her brain was trying to knit Hope and I together in a supportive way.
Hmmm. I’m utterly convinced it’s the latter. Hope and I do not look alike, despite many comments to the contrary. Good Lord, even my mother thinks Hope has my late uncle’s eyes…she might, maybe, a little bit. Eh, shrug.
So, here’s my thinking on this: People are happy for me (warm fuzzies). People want to be supportive (more warm fuzzies). We see what we want to see in order to further the desire to be happy and supportive. This is pretty natural. Hey, I dated someone for two miserable years because I thought being with him would one day, miraculously, make me happy—it didn’t. Actually, I’ve had a few of those kinds of relationships, though I seem to have broken that nasty habit. Ok, maybe that was a melodramatic example, but stay with me here.
I’m not creating a family the way that many of my friends are or have, and I had no desire to seek out a child who bore some resemblance to me or my family. Sure I thought about it as I thought about all the various scenarios about what life would look like with my child and how we might be received by the world around us. I really didn’t give much thought specifically to resemblance though; maybe because I just assumed we wouldn’t look anything alike. I mean really, what are the odds?? It was startling when people started to comment about Hope’s and my alleged resemblance. I didn’t see it then; I still don’t. Hope says she favors her biological father; she’s proud of that. She loved him very much. She doesn’t have any pictures of him, so looking like her dad is important to her and her identity.
I’ve come to believe that the warm desire to help me tie my adoption of Hope together with a neat bow and be supportive leads the brain to seeing a familial resemblance between Hope and I that really isn’t there. Of course, Hope’s desire to look like her father may affect any ability I have to find some shade of resemblance between us; the brain is funny that way. I’m sure the fact that we’re both Black helps to facilitate all this brain activity. I’m guessing it also happens in other same/similar race adoptions too. I’m guessing this is not a particularly common occurrence in cross-racial adoptions, but some quick google searches reveal there are desires to find some kind of resemblance connection in these adoptions too.
With infants, we’ve all made comments about whether the little one looks like a presumed parent—this just happened with fellow blogger, Complicated Melodi, who was providing respite care for an infant recently. Hope isn’t an infant, though, and really, I don’t think she favors me at all, so it’s an intriguing occurrence to receive these comments from pals.
This is different than when we’re out and about and someone assumes I’m Hope’s mom. Usually, the assumption is based on our proximity together or their having been privy to a bit of our banter, which on my trip this week I realized totally sounds like a mom and tween daughter (Squeal!! More on that later). There is rarely a mention of any resemblance; no, this phenomenon only happens with people I know.
So, what’s the point of this post? Not sure, other than to parse through another emotional nugget in the adoption process. My daughter is lovely and just beautiful. I don’t think she looks anything like me. I have no idea if she looks much like either of her biological parents. The compliment that Hope favors me is sweet and I think I understand what is really being seen and said. I’m a mom. Biology really doesn’t matter, because I’m still a mom. I’m grateful for the sentiment even if I don’t see the visual connection. I’m also grateful that so many people were so kind and supportive of my new little family.