Birth Mother: 18 years old, black ancestry, 5’3” tall, 120 lbs, small bone structure, coarse black hair, black eyes, dark complexion. Senior in high school, would like to be a social worker. Enjoys sports and is in good health. Has one sister with hay fever and one with diet-controlled diabetes.
Birth Father: 17 years old, black ancestry, 5’10” tall, 145 lbs, coarse black hair, black eyes, dark complexion and is in good health.
That pretty much encompasses what I know about my ancestry and medical history. So for the most part, my birth family members are faceless and nameless. Being adopted, although a beautiful and redeeming thing, can often come with a unique set of burdens and questions for the adoptee. And those burdens and questions are different for every child.
My Adoptive Family
Although I have always loved the parents God chose for me and felt as though I truly belonged to them, the one thing I often thought about while growing up is who out there do I look like? When I was born, my birth mother gave me up for adoption and four months later I was adopted into a beautiful new family that only God could have chosen for me. I always refer to this as the first of many redemption stories that have been written throughout my life.
I was adopted into a family that looked nothing like me. I’m a dark-skinned African American and my parents are both caucasian. Even my brother and sister, who my parents also adopted, are of mixed race and very light-skinned. I outgrew my mother at a very young age because I was destined to be tall (5’11”) and she was always a steady 4’10.” To say I stuck out in my family is a huge understatement. It’s not a huge surprise to me that I became very intrigued with genetics and DNA.
I was always interested in twins and siblings and how they would take on certain characteristics of their parents. Even to this day, I notice the smallest things. I notice how sisters might have the same type of walk, how twins share the same voice, how a son has the same hands as his dad. I always wondered if I looked like my birth parents or had a sibling who shared my smile.
Now, I have been blessed with three sons that share my DNA and I now know what it feels like to have someone “look” like me. My firstborn is truly the spitting image of me. I compare my pictures of us at the same age and can hardly tell the difference. Many people even say we share many gestures and personality traits. But now as an adult, my intrigue of genetics has diminished some and my eyes have opened to what is truly important when it comes to family.
Who Do I Look Like?
Now when I think about “who do I look like,” I think of my mom. Although short in stature, she is a giant in loving her kids. I want to “look” like her. Her skin is pale, but her personality is colorful and fun. I want to “look” like her. We don’t share the same blood, but when her children are in pain, so is she. I want to “look” like her.
When I think about “who I look like,” I think of my dad. He has a deep love and knowledge for his Creator and isn’t afraid to show that. I hope I “look” like him. He is a fierce protector of his children and grandchildren. I hope I “look” like him. He has an incredible mind of creativity and innovation. I hope I “look” like him.
What’s truly important when it comes to being a family?
It’s not whether your children look like you, or whether you have a sibling that shares your blood. It’s about whether you share the good characteristics of yourself with each other. I want people to recognize me as my parents’ daughter by the way I carry myself, the way I love my children, the way I love God, how hard I work in life, the way I speak to others and the way I show kindness to strangers.
A quote from Nancy McGuire has become one of my favorites: “I did not make you in my own image, I created you in the imagery of my heart.”