Biology, Schmiology

The other night I was indulging in my favorite Friday night guilty pleasure (after the kid goes to bed, of course) - reading a People magazine whilst sipping a nice glass of Riesling. There was an article about Nicole Kidman, who is apparently pregnant. As they say in Australia, good on ya. You'd have to be some kind of jerk not to wish someone well on a pregnancy. What's stuck in my craw is not the fact that she is pregnant, but the way in which others referred to her pregnancy. There were quotes like, "She's going to be such a great mom!"

Um, Nicole Kidman already IS a mom. And she has been a mom for a long time - her son and daughter are teenagers. I sincerely hope her children do not read that article, as it is blatantly offensive. If you read between the lines, what's being said is, "Adoption is second best."

I guess I just fail to see why biology is so important. One of my very favorite people on the planet is my grandma, Elaine. She is my stad's mom, which means that she and I do not have an ounce of the same blood. We don't look even vaguely alike (she is a blue-eyed, blond-haired German woman and I'm . . . not). She has been my grandma since the day I met her, when I was 8. It never mattered to her that there were no genetics involved.

That is not to say that it's not kinda interesting to look at a relative and make note of the fact that you both have the same nose or something. And that maybe you both like corn on the cob and laugh at knock-knock jokes. But beyond that, what's the big deal? I inherited bad hips from my mom - she loves how I thank her for them all the time.

I know that a lot of people have a very strong drive to have biological children. I've seen people spend thousands and thousands of dollars on fertility treatments. I may not understand that drive personally, but would certainly wish those folks the best. I also would not want to downplay the need of adopted adults to find out where they came from. It must be painful not to know. That's why open adoption is now the norm, I think. My daughter will never know the agony of "not knowing." I hope I will be able to show her that the people closest to me aren't blood related and that I love them (and her) just as much as I love the ones with whom I do share bits of DNA.

I should also add that I'm not trying to pretend I didn't want to give birth. I did want that for a long time. I always thought I would have a brown-eyed boy who looked just like his dad. But that's not the way our lives worked out. We never saw adoption as second best. Families are created in lots of different ways and this is just one of those ways. And while A doesn't have our eyes, we find that we have lots of things in common with her. She likes chocolate as much as we do. She is clumsy like me. She thinks bodily functions are funny just like her dad does (I won't even tell you how many times he has watched Dumb & Dumber). Last night at swim class I was watching P carefully guiding our daughter along on her back, encouraging her to kick her legs. I could not imagine any dad loving his little girl more than P loves that curly-haired kid.

For those who are wondering about adoption terminology, there are lots of helpful glossaries out there. Here are a couple of them:

I try not to make a big deal about it if someone using the wrong terms. Now, if someone says to me, "Hey, do you keep in touch with A's mother?" I will correct them and explain that I am her mother but that she has a wonderful birthmother who loves her very much. I never want to minimize the fact that she has birthparents. Her birthmother is a smart, caring, amazing person who cannot be swept under any rug. But, the fact remains that P and I have been raising A since Day 1 and we are her parents. So, if you run into someone who has adopted a child, they'll be impressed if you remember the right terminology. And you know better than to say stupid stuff like, "Now that you've adopted you'll probably get pregnant," right? I heard that phrase several times after A was born. Even my dentist said it, and if there's one person with whom you want to discuss your reproductive concerns, it's your dentist.


Anonymous said…
Claudia: Amen sister! My step-dads family is very much my family as well, I have called his parents my grandparents from day one and I love them dearly. And my step-dad is Owen's Papa, nothing less than that. I think these "writers" need to remember that Biology does not determine a family, a family is determined by love. Also when Katie Holmes was pregnant, they also did the same thing with the lack of correct terminology when describing Tom Cruise's children, they kept calling them his "adopted children" They're his kids with Nicole, so annoying these Hollywood writers..... AND I must say that A looks like you and P, seriously!
Alabaster Mom said…
When Bob Hope died some articles mentioned his "adopted" children, who were senior citizens themselves by that time. I mean, at what age can you drop that term? Ugh.
Mary said…
Right on girl. I know that daughter of yours means EVERYTHING anyone's child could ever mean to any parent in everyway. Being in the adoption arena for years I've learned a lot and one thing I've learned is it takes more of a special person to adopt than to just roll them out yourself, NOT because an adopted child is any less loved and wanted child but because I think some people think anything but the real thing is not good enough. Sad.... That's all besides the fact that these children need homes, not to compare them to dogs but ya...;) They need a loving home with all the stability and care and emotional and physical needs and some people just won't or can't do that unless it's their own biologically. I was so blind when I had my kids, or plain ignorant. Adoption is a wonderful loving option of not just kids here in the US but all over. And lets not forget the cost! Definitely worth it but some won't even go that route, if you love your child wouldn't you give every last cent if you have to?? No difference, I don't know if that made sense since I'm just rambling on here.;) Adoptive parents are far some of my most favorite people in the world, I see their love so much in their kids and in their eyes and souls. Yes, there are birth moms and really thank heavens there are!! I've seen more birth moms give up their children out of pure LOVE and wanting her baby to be loved and nurtured like he/she deserves and sometimes are incapable of for many reasons. I've seen birth moms leave their babies for the last time (in case anyone reads this I've taken in over 100 pre-adoptive babies and birth parents would visit) and it is far, far from easy, hardest thing they could have done, but yes, they want to do it. They also do find some joy in helping build a family who otherwise couldn't. OK, I'll stop, I'm taking up your whole blog, it's ok if you delete this but I just know how wonderful adoption is on both sides even if I never adopted.;)
Melinda said…
You know, in high school, I had a history teacher whose sister had two sons: one biological, one adopted. They loved both boys the same. But they constantly had people who believed the biological son was the adopted, and vice versa because, although there was no blood there, the adopted son looked and acted so much like his parents.

Anyway, my point is, genetics don't mean a darned thing, as far as I'm concerned. Adrienne is your daughter, through and through. She has a smile that, while it may not look like yours, has been given to her by you. She has a shiny head of curls that are just full of goodnight kisses, because everyone knows you can't wash away goodnight kisses. And she has a heart full of love because you taught her that love, regardless of the biology of it all. I think she's a very lucky little girl. And, of course, she has very lucky parents.

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