My children who are adopted are of mixed races, which has instigated a lot of joking over the years about how much we are like each other. I remember shopping at Walmart with my daughter, Dinora, when she was about 6 months old. Sitting in the infant seat, she exhibited every characteristic of a child of Mayan Indian heritage. The woman in front of me turned around and looked at her, then looked at me, then looked back at her. “She certainly must look like her father!” she said, in kind of a huff. Incorrect, of course, she was just like us.
Three of my children have brown eyes, just like me! Two have blue eyes, just like their dad! Amazing, just like each other! All of us love ice cream, especially cookie dough, which was hard to keep in the freezer, even though I would hide a carton way in the back under the pork chops, figuring the children hated pork chops. They didn’t hate them enough to look behind them to find our special treat.
Swimming is something we have in common, (mostly because we live on a lake.) Dinora was able to swim by the age of 18 months old. She used to jump off the side in the deep end of the community pool with me. Everyone was shocked, saying it was dangerous for her to be so deep. But she was so tiny that even if she jumped off the lower end she still wouldn’t be able to touch the bottom, so what was the difference? My son, Francis, was on a swim team, and won a medal for the fastest swimmer. Steven spent most of his time by the water, pretending to be the Crocodile Hunter with the ability to swim quite far if he saw one of his prey. Angel was a great swimmer, as was Marie. Many a time Marie and I would take floats and swim back and forth across the lake. (Okay, so using float was cheating, but the comradeship was worth it.) Hubby, I, and all of my children, are natural swimmers, just like each other!
Three of my children are creature lovers, anything from earth worms to boa constrictors to the every day dog, cats and bunnies. It is as though any living creature is a fascination to them, handled with care and put back into their “natural environment”, a special expression of Steven’s. One day, while camping at six years old, he found a common garter snake, hunting it down as only Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, could do. On his haunches, he followed the snake through the rocks and eventually wrangled it onto a stick. By then, a crowd of children had gathered, squealing, “A snake! Yeeeewww. A snake! Steven gently showed the snake, saying “Isn’t she a beaut? Look at that great color that can hide in the forest. Nature is amazing!”
With the exception of me and their dad, everyone loves scary movies. Okay, so maybe they aren’t like us in this manner as hubby turns away anytime he sees blood or monsters on tv and I hide under a pillow anytime I hear eerie music. We can’t ALWAYS be the same!
We all love to go apple picking, to see the colored leaves in the autumn, to watch a sunset at the beach, to swim in the waves, and to help those less fortunate. Francis was building houses with Habitat for Humanity despite his blindness and Dinora raised money for a soup kitchen in her native Guatemala. We all worked on making sandwiches which would be delivered to Cross Rhodes. With all of these similarities, of COURSE we are related! And so we have built MY family…
Now they are building theirs. Francis has a three year old daughter who physically looks JUST LIKE HIM, (minus the vision impairment!) Dinora has a young daughter and son who physically looks JUST LIKE HER. And Steven has a three year old who physically looks JUST LIKE HIM, massive head of kinky, curly hair and all! Angel is in touch with his biological family who physically look JUST LIKE HIM. All of the similarities we fostered as a family cannot compare to the fact that their flesh and blood look similar to them. But that is not what they focus on. They bond over similarities…Steven’s daughter really loves animals and strawberries, she MUST be his daughter! Dinora’s son is great at drawing and her daughter is a little diva, enjoying make-up and nail polish, (so much like her diva mom.) Francis’s daughter loves vanilla pudding and swimming in the waves in California! Go figure!
The truth is, family is not what is built by flesh and blood, but by common interests, tastes, morals and a whole lot of love. Of COURSE we are all related, we are a family!