The one I've wanted to blog about is called by researchers "Resemblance Talk." The medical/psychological research I saw when we were pg said that it's stressful for DE families (especially moms) whether or not the couples are planning on telling their children. My plan had been to say "Why yes, twin daughter (TD) does have eyes like mine!" and "Why yes! TS does have legs like my brothers!" which is different than saying TD has my eyes and TS has my brother's legs.
What I wasn't expecting is the searching, searching, searching on the part of my family to find SOMETHING that looks like me or them in the babies. My poor mother. She looks defeated sometimes in trying to find some part of her appearance in the babies.
We have not told our parents basically because the fact that we're older means our parents (ansd their attitudes) are older, too. And yes, I've heard my mother say on more than one occasion about an adopted child "Is that her REAL mother?" (I was so proud of myself for answering Yes before I understood what she was really asking) And Mom made all kinds of negative comments about Michael Jackson's children who were born through DE, DS and surrogates. We will likely tell them when the children get old enough to talk to others about it, but we might not. I just don't want to be making attributions about the children ("That must be like the donor") or worse, not establishing a close relationship with the children, because they are donor inspired.
But yeah. My brother swore that TD looks just like our grandmother. My mother has stopped questioning and simply declared that TD looks "just like me." She doesn't. She's much, much cuter (and I'm not being modest--she has a much better nose than either DH or I).
Fortunately, DH has particularly dominant genes and a large, diverse family so many of the outstanding features of our children realistically look like him or one of the bazillion members of his family.
So writing this, what is my concern? I don't believe I have "perfect genes" to pass on to my children. (I heard someone say that once and it still drives me absolutely nutty) I also believe based on current research that genes do NOT lead to exact replicas. Instead, I believe based on this and other research that the incubator (i.e., me) and the physical and social environment play an important role in interacting with the genes to cause a person to "be" a certain way. Current examples: they now believe that intelligence is more related to how hard the mom works cognitively (i.e., thinks) during pregnancy than the child's inherited genes, schizophrenia is more strongly linked to mom's stress during pregnancy than to genetic disposition, and that genes for resilience turn on or off based on a child's early life experiences outside the womb. And most importantly, the most important genes for height only predict 2% of someone's height. That means the vast majority of someone's height--98%--comes from something other than those genes.
I know I've repeated this several times before, but there's a persistent and incorrect belief out there that Genes. Are. It. I'm not naive: I realize that if a child is given, say, a Beethoven sonata for their genes they are not going to come out playing Gershwin. Nonetheless, Beethoven sounds differently based on how and on what it's played: uptempo vs down tempo, with feeling or without, on a piano or on a guitar.
And did you know that most research on the effects of environment on personality, intelligence, etc. have been conducted in the US on relatively similar socio-economic status families? That's like comparing Baptists to Presbyterians and thinking they are very, very different religions. Once you start adding in Catholics, Orthodox Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Wicca and even Atheism, that's when you figure out just how damn similar the Baptists and Presbyterians really are.
Blah, blah, blah. What's my point here? That's what I keep asking myself and I keep babbling around in circles just like I have above. My deep, down, middle of my soul fear is that my children will reject me because the genetic link is not explicit.
I told DH that the other day and he replied "Did Nicole* reject her mother?" Nicole is adopted and one of my advisors during this process. No she didn't. Not at all. Never. It's not even an issue because she knows her mother is her mother. Rejection doesn't work that way with good parenting.
I do worry rejection could come from one's obsessing over the genetic link (or lack thereof) with one's DE children. And really my worry is their obsession over it later. But I can't control that, can I? I can say what I've just said (which is probably why I say it repeatedly) and I can help our children find the most recent academic research in the area.
Maybe that's it, the lack of control over an issue that may or may not arise sometime in the future. Will TD be upset that she doesn't have my hair? If you could see it right now, probably not. Will there be some other feature that TD or TS wishes they had of mine or my family? Do you long for that or are you more like me and worry that you actually DID inherit some annoying trait or another from your mother, I mean, family.
I'm sure I haven't said this as articulately as I'd like to. And I'm sure I'll say it again. But I have been surprised at the amount of resemblance talk I've heard and the persistance of my family to find something, anything, that looks like me or them in the children.
These are my children. These are my perfect twins. And these are exactly the children I've been waiting for for the last 4 years. Really, the rest doesn't matter.