Something that we hear quite a lot from people is how much Bean and LilMan "look like they're really brother and sister." I know this is intended to be a complement; that it's intended as validating. I appreciate that. This post is about my personal feelings on why this may not be received kindly by all adoptive families. These comments make me uncomfortable, and I know a lot of my friends in the adoption world agree. Bear with me as I try to explain.
Look at these two, thick as thieves:
Obviously, our kids have birth families and unique stories of how they came into the world, but to me, it's also obvious that they are totally each other's siblings. I believe that to them this is the case as well. They're growing up together, they fight, they adore one another, they get jealous of each other, and when things are crazy, they really do care about each other. They have a true sibling bond. As I see it, they are totally siblings, real and complete.
Our society loves sameness. This may be debatable in some regards, but in terms of families, I sometimes think there is almost a narcissistic obsession with being sure kids look like their parents, and that siblings look like each other. If we don't see sameness, it can be alarming to some. When Bean was a newborn a stranger remarked to me that my daughter looked nothing like me. It felt like it was supposed to be a slap in the face. I politely told her that I didn't anticipate Bean ever looking like me, as she was adopted, and that I think she is beautiful looking how she looks, and left it at that, but it bothered me for a long time. Why is it concerning for a child to look different? This could be a huge, heated conversation, and I'm not feeling up to dragging it out to that, but I think it's good to think about--Do we place too much importance on sameness?
This is probably something I'm vocalizing because we've had possible trans-racial adoption situations come up before that, if they were to work out, would result in our kids suddenly not looking alike. Even though these situations have not worked out to date, I know someday our family could possibly look different. That is one reason I feel it's so important to emphasize that my kids are siblings, whether they look alike to others or not.
Everything about my kids' relationship is reminiscent to me of my relationships with my siblings. (For the record, my siblings and I all look quite different, and we are in fact biological siblings. I remember our lack of "matching" being something that fascinated others when I was growing up, and it always annoyed me.) We sometimes clash more than anyone else could--we grew up together and saw each other at our worst--and yet this also creates an amazing bond--it unites us. We know each others pasts, we know each others strengths and weaknesses, and we love each other always, no matter what. I look forward to my kids growing up together. Sibling relationships are so special.
And most of all, my kids love each other completely. Yes, they fight. Yes, they tease. Yes, they get jealous of each other. And yet they will defend each other, rally together whenever necessary, and sympathy-cry when the other one is crying. Heck yeah they're siblings, whether you think they look alike or not.
(And once more I reiterate that I appreciate the well-intentioned comments all the same.)