Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Gift of Unshared Genes


Our daughters, who were born to us, are like us.  Freakishly like us.

 Devyn is very smart and very intense. She is loyal.  She is passionate. She would gladly do bodily harm to anyone who would dare to hurt someone she loves. She is driven, which to a point is a good quality, but she takes it to a level that borders on insanity.  She is impatient with those who are not like her, she thinks she hides this, but she doesn't. She might as well hold up a sign that says 'You are annoying me by: not working hard/ not taking this seriously/ wasting time with your stupid questions or any number of inexcusable qualities. She is Kurt.

Maddy is very social, she loves her family and friends intensely.  She is charming and usually gets whatever she wants.  She is uncommonly lucky.  Things come easily to her, this is good because, she is unwilling to work harder than necessary.  Her intentions are good but she tends to procrastinate, putting more effort into not doing something rather than just tackling the task at hand.  I would list more of her good qualities, but that would be like bragging, because Maddy is me.

Seeing yourself reflected in your children is a mixed blessing.  It can be fantastically rewarding but it can also be humbling.

There is something liberating about raising our sons.  Not only do we not share genes, but since we adopted them as older children, who they are is influenced not only by the (beautiful) genes of their Ethiopian parents, but also by the people in their villages and the orphanage that cared for and loved them.  There is no misplaced guilt or pride in being their parents.  We know so little about their backgrounds that we literally have no preconceived notions of who they will become.  Will they be tall?  Have a head for business?  Be musical?   Athletic?  Have a quick wit?  A receding hairline?  Who knows.  We take each piece of who they are as it is revealed to us.  It is a gift, given to us little by little, as we have the privilege of watching our boys grow into men.

Mikias has a real talent for putting things together.  He builds things from Legos with the passion of a true artist.  He is the sweetest child I know, our other children don't even come close to him.  He has endless patience with others, even when another child is mean to him, he always forgives and offers a clean slate.  We love his kindness but worry that he won't stand up for himself.   He is exceedingly hard on himself, and cannot stand to let anyone down.

Jemberu is a fast runner.  Crazy fast.  Oh my gosh fast.  He loves drawing and creating things. He is outgoing and a natural leader with his friends. He is competitive and the only one of our children with killer instinct. He is amazingly stubborn.  He has a short fuse and is scrappy.  No one will push Jemby around, he will not stand for it.

When I watch my sons, not only do I accept them for who they are without any excessive guilt or pride, I fall in love with their first families and every person who loved them, showed kindness to them and nurtured them before we did.  In seeing who they are I feel like I am getting a glimpse of the parents who gave them life and the people who took care of them during their first years.

 There are people who truly believe that in raising children with whom we share no genetic link, we give up something.  That is foolish.  We give up nothing and gain so much from accepting the gift of unshared genes.

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