Seeing yourself reflected back…

22 May

I’ve talked about seeing yourself reflected back many times over the years.  Today, I’m bringing it up because yesterday I updated the family tree’s (I have one for each parent) with the details of mom passing.  And, once someone’s passed, I add pictures too, something I’ve always shied away from while they are living, despite having the tree’s set to private, invite only.  Once I get started, then, of course, I check to see if there are new records or details to uncover, and time slips away as I become the observer of generations.

Observing what shaped them, what challenges they lived through, survived.  At the same time, I’m always startled by how similar they are, not only physically, but in how they lead/led their lives generation after generation.  The continuity that is passed down that you don’t see in everyday life, you have to take the time to look back to see it.  I do think looking back is a key part of what keeps a family continuing to be strong each generation. Why family stories need to be told to each new generation so they know others in their family faced similar, did similar, thrived being who they are.  Without that continuity, there is no glue to hold you together through both good times and bad.

Both sides of my family are like peas in a pod physically, and in how they led/lead their lives, you’d know siblings are siblings, even if you didn’t know their parents.  Once you start looking at their parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, you see the same.  It’s a comforting part of being in a family that hasn’t been torn apart, disconnected.  A family that stood together even if they lived oceans apart, they stayed connected because they all believed family mattered.

Even as the observer, there’s something magical about seeing different versions of the same reflected back in the other members of the family.  Something many of us adopted lived without both growing up and as adults.  The continuity is missing, and depending on how different you are from the family you landed in, can lead to how noticeable it is to you that you are different, other.  That is the effect of adoption, no matter if it was the best solution, it disconnects you from your genes and you lose the continuity.  In many ways I’m similar to my family, other ways I’m different, startling so, both physically and in my choices on how to lead my life.  I’m also startling similar in those areas with my family of birth that I am so different from in my family by adoption. That is adoption.

Sunday reading:

Nova Scotia to tell 86-year-old former foster child who his father is

85-Year-Old Texas Man Adopted as a Baby Finally Finds His Biological Family: ‘I’d Always Carried Around This Mystery’

After more than 80 years, birth mother and daughter reunite


Posted by on May 22, 2016 in Adoption


Tags: , , , , , , ,

15 responses to “Seeing yourself reflected back…

  1. Lori Lavender Luz

    May 22, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    I am very touched by this post. “Even as the observer, there’s something magical about seeing different versions of the same reflected back in the other members of the family.” I see (where once I did not) that there is privilege in growing up in one’s biological family, and I’m thankful for posts like this that help me to see what things may be like without that privilege.


    • TAO

      May 22, 2016 at 7:20 pm

      Thanks Lori, that was sweet. 🙂


  2. Nara

    May 22, 2016 at 8:18 pm

    I’ve never met anyone I resemble and I’m obsessed by seeing family resemblances. I don’t think people who weren’t adopted can understand the magic of seeing people who share the same physical traits and innate understandings of each other. As a transracial adoptee I am not only a foreigner in the country I live in; I’m also a foreigner in my own family.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TAO

      May 22, 2016 at 9:10 pm

      I am too Nara – it fascinates me, I look for it. And I agree, it’s something hard to understand if you’ve always had mirrors. The fascination doesn’t go away even if you finally have a mirror…at least it hasn’t for me.


  3. L4R

    May 23, 2016 at 12:40 am

    And, I think adoptees often can see subtle similarities better than others. My adoptive family doesn’t see a resemblance between my father and me. But, while I’m not his doppelganger, the physical similarities are clearly there.


    • TAO

      May 23, 2016 at 1:04 am

      Because we’ve been fascinated with resemblances we’ve always lacked…


  4. iwishiwasadopted

    May 23, 2016 at 1:39 am

    I miss seeing my mother most of all. I could have stared at her all day, like a baby does. We were so much alike. Growing up with her would have been such a privilege.


    • TAO

      May 23, 2016 at 3:09 am

      I’m sorry.


  5. yan

    May 23, 2016 at 11:41 am

    I, too, am obsessed with family resemblances — and really bad at seeing them. When they are incredibly obvious, I think I’m like an annoying child, pointing them out repeatedly *because I can see them.* And they amaze me.

    After 5 years in reunion, I’m finally seeing a few similarities between me and my first mom. I have one photo I treasure because my a-mom was the person who pointed out the similarities between my smile and my first mom’s. She saw it when I didn’t — and then she told me about it. Both things are huge steps.


    • TAO

      May 23, 2016 at 2:11 pm



    • iwishiwasadopted

      May 23, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      My adoptive mother did not see the resemblance between me and Mom, Everyone else did. It was like looking in a mirror. I often caught people looking, and could tell they were checking out the strong resemblance.

      My kids look like me too. An acquaintance once said, “oh, you’re the one with the daughters that look just like you”. This was pre-reunion, and my heart soared. I really craved that connection,hence my 4 children! I wanted to create my own tribe.

      My adoptive mom also said my mother seemed “much lower” than me. I did not like that at all. How can my mother be lower than me, she is me. I never, ever felt that my dear mother was lower than anyone.


  6. Judith Land

    May 24, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    My ‘first connection’ with a biological relative was a serendipitous encounter with an exceptionally lovely, intelligent, feminine girl named Cindy. There was something familiar about her. She was exotic, but intuitively familiar. Our actions and facial expressions were the same, but opposite, like two mimes facing a mirror. We stared into each others eyes. Realizing the connection, we extended our arms and hugged for the first time. I finally discovered what I had been looking for—my roots. I was overwhelmed by the emotional intensity of the embryonic reunion. I was enchanted by the experience and astonished by our similarities in body language, habits, mannerisms, ways of thinking, and speaking. Even our voices were alike. Witnesses could see firsthand the obsession that had inflamed my passions to seek my true identity and why I had never given up the search. My reward was a lovely sister. I was thrilled.


  7. cb

    May 25, 2016 at 8:45 am

    When my uncle sent me a photo of my bmother in her 20s, I think that the closest I’d ever seen anyone look like me. I’d seen two photos in a family history book, the first was very poor quality so I couldn’t really see any resemblance, the second was also not great quality but I do remember thinking “we have the same arm” lol. In fact, that is the one thing I’ve noticed in many of the photos I have of her is that I have her elbows, knees, feet, hands and general overall body shape. Our faces are similar although I think I might resemble my bgrandmother as well. I am not sure what I’ve inherited off my (unknown) bfather. However, I have noticed that with many people that they can look both look just like their mum and also just like their dad even though their mum and dad may not resemble each other in the least.


  8. cb

    May 25, 2016 at 8:56 am

    ” but in how they lead/led their lives generation after generation”

    Despite the fact that I know a little about my (a)mum’s line, I can’t really get a grip on them. It is a very illustrious line but I don’t know much about them. Mum had a great childhood and loved her family but we didn’t see them much after moving to Australia (her parents had died years before).

    As for dad’s family, it is hard to be too sure about his childhood but looking at what I know of his female ancestors, they all seemed to be rather starchy matron types (actually, they were all matrons of some sort, either nursing or children’s homes etc).

    As for biological family, ancestors settled in a rural region in the mid 1850s and my relatives more or less didn’t really move from there until the 1970s or so. I have quite a few books that give an insight into my ancestors lives. Funnily enough I felt a connection to that area before I knew my forebears were from that area.


  9. pj

    May 25, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    Tao, so true.. ” That is the effect of adoption, no matter if it was the best solution, it disconnects you from your genes and you lose the continuity.” And I don’t have any children so I feel the continuity is forever lost..
    I look just like my bio dad, even more so than his children who resemble his wife. My bio sib ,adopted with me, closely resembles bio mom. I don’t resemble either of them, physically or otherwise. My a family sees all it clearly and acknowledges -so grateful for that support. In the mean time, I’ll keep obsessively looking at that pic of bio dad 🙂



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