Thursday, December 19, 2013

But He Doesn't Look Like You...

Between toting my son to a holiday work party to showing his picture off to a few work people here and there, I've gotten some interesting reactions of late. It always the begins the same: they look at my son carefully, he with his dark hair and prominent, dark eyebrows, a near-spitting image of Mr. S, and then they look back at me, even more carefully, with my lighter hair (dyed, people!) and plucked eyebrows (I promise they used to be formidable before the transgressions of my youth) and then back again. And you immediately see the wheels turning. A great majority of the time they make a remark like, "Wow. He must look just like his father" (translation: he doesn't look anything like you)

It gives me pause. It doesn't bother me because this is not an insult.  In my humble opinion, my kid is off-the-charts adorable. But for a split second I remind myself that, no, they did not mix up the egg in the lab (this has actually been a running joke since he birth) and I have more than enough proof of this that isn't immediately obvious. But why do I feel the need to remind myself? Why do I feel the need to call to mind his eye color, his chin, his cheeks, the way his skin is almost translucent when he's cold? (yes, an unfortunate reality for my Mom and I as well) Ah, IVF is a funny thing...(and people's obsessions about the visual expression of genetics is even weirder...)

And then I instantly wonder what this exchange will be like when my child actually does not have a genetic connection to me. Will I be released of this odd, split-second need to remind to myself that my genes really are hidden there, somewhere? Or will their inspections actually discomfort me more than they do? I guess I always figured it would roll off my back, but perhaps I am being naïve. I might have some thick skin and a few canned catch phrases to develop before the day comes.

And then there's this: what if I learned tomorrow that they HAD actually mixed up the egg and that my son did not have my genetics after all? Would that change how I feel about him? Without hesitation I would give a resounding, "no." It wouldn't change a single thing about our relationship. It would certainly bring up questions and concerns about a health heredity I know nothing about (and most notably my clinic's competence--oh, how I would question that!), but as far as how I think and feel about him, how I parent, it wouldn't change things in the least. So, I know that if I can say this for certain about him, I can say it with near certainty for a future child.


S said...

I think that, as a mother already, you are in a position to know that we don't love our children for the ways in which they resemble us, but for the unique people they are.

Neither of my DE-conceived sons look like me, or frankly, like their egg donor; they both look like my husband and his family. (One twin looks like my husband, just with different-colored hair and eyes; the other looks like my MIL.) It doesn't bother me at all, although I know that not all mothers of DE-conceived children feel this way.

It Is What It Is said...

It's always been a bit odd to me, the need to find parental resemblance in the children of others. As an adoptee, I rolled my eyes A LOT as people would comment that I looked 'just like' my dad when I look nothing like him.

Now, with Baby G (who looks nothing like my husband or I or his brother or either of his donors), the comment I get 100% of the time is "where does the red hair come from?". Since this is mostly from complete strangers, my answer is always the same, "Both my husband and I are adopted. We don't really know."

Because I am SO grateful to have him and for the gift that he was, I used to think about the donors (and the donating couple) often. Now that he is becoming a toddler, I rarely think of them specifically but am reminded to constantly because of comments regarding how he looks. It doesn't bother me, per se, because he's a baby, but I wonder if it will bother him when he is older.

What actually bothers me more is the near constant comments from my MIL about how our older (genetically linked) son is 'just like' my husband. In fact, in almost 6 years, she has never once commented that he looks like, behaves like, or gets even ONE characteristic from me. Because of her advanced age (she is 83), I let it go but when he was a baby/toddler, it would irk me because it felt like a personal slap (like I didn't count at all in the equation of him).

sunflowerchilde said...

So, I don't feel like my children look a whole lot like either my husband or myself, not the least because they're both still blonde at 3.5 years and my husband and I have very dark hair (I was never blonde, my husband was for the first couple years). As they get older, they do look a bit more like us. I was paranoid at first that they may have mixed up the sperm for our IUI. I have also given a lot of thought to adoption, and I am confident that I would feel the same about an adopted baby as I would about a biological baby. I think adopting an older child would be a lot more difficult for me, though, although it's impossible to say without actually having done it.

Nikki said...

Well, you've seen how much R looks like me. How much more he looks like Sree. We're enjoying people's confused, searching looks and we're embracing our differences and loving being a family. Does resemblance make the bond stronger? I don't think so at all!

Canned, tongue in cheek responses for people (specially strangers) is good. It takes the "heat" off the moment.

Hugs to you my friend. Hope you're well!

It Is What It Is said...

I came here to comment on your Back-and-forth, To-and-fro post but it's not here.

I did the exact same thing, a Ben Franklin with the pros and cons of having a 2nd child. In the end, I could not apply logic to something so primal, the drive/want of another to mother.