Inherited Traits

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I get my gray hair from my biological father. 

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I was adopted at birth. And just so I’m clear from the get go, because these sorts of things tend to confuse people, when I say  “my parents” “My Mom” “My Dad” these are the people who adopted me. I refer to my biological parents, the people who created me, as my “birth Parents” “birth or biological Father” “birth or biological Mother.” Make sense?

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There’s something about growing up and looking like no one else in your family, even though I was regularly told how much my mom (adoptive mom) and I looked alike (at which point my mom would gleefully share my adoption story). As a result I’ve always been fascinated with peoples’ inherited family traits. “WOW she looks JUST like her mom!” “Oh you totally have you dad’s feet.” “You guys could be twins!” I recently visited with a friend and couldn’t stop trying to piece together every little facet of her 2 week olds face. Did she have her mom’s chin, and dad’s eyes? It’s almost all I could think about.

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I’ve always known I was adopted. I don’t remember a “conversation” or being surprised by it as a kid. My parents did a great job with that. It was just always known, and no big deal and it was never a negative thing. I mean, I definitely used it when I argued with my mom over fairness, “You love Tony more because he’s your real son!” And she’d respond “Oh Christina, you know that’s not true, I PICKED you for God’s sakes!” Those arguments never lasted long.

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The first time I met my birth father, he visited me at my college apartment in Brookline. We both decided to bring someone for support. I brought my mom. He brought one of his sons. He had several other children before me, whom he raised with his wife, and I was really excited to get to meet one of them.

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I don’t remember the details of our conversation that night, it’s possible I was so nervous that I blacked out for most of it, but I do remember how I felt. I was taken aback by how tall and striking he was, how we were all a bit nervous and how I looked like him. The whole thing felt thrilling and….awkward. Thrilling because I had dreamt of that moment for most of my life, and awkward because we were strangers trying to make a connection because we shared some blood. 

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While we did our best to stay in touch, emailing eachother to check in here and there, having lunch or dinner once in a blue moon….we never got to know each other very well, we never became closely connected.

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What I can say is he was always very kind, gracious, gentle, careful and it was clear he loved his family very much. I didn’t want to come between that. Lucky for me I became friendly with a couple of his kids (my half siblings). In fact, one of them introduced me to my husband!

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And then a few years ago, we were supposed to meet for dinner or coffee. It was December. He cancelled because he wasn’t well. A few weeks later I woke up early one morning and stayed in bed, quietly scrolling along on Facebook, and I came across some condolences. My heart stopped for a second and I burst out crying. He had passed.

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I still have questions about things. I’d love to see old photos, I’d love to learn more about myself. Yet with so many unanswered questions, I still have so, so, so much gratitude. And I’ll always have this gray hair to remind me of my biological roots (pun?). I’m 4 months into letting it all grow out : )

4 thoughts on “Inherited Traits

  1. I absolutely love this story! I didn’t know any of this! I LOVE the way you write, I always want to hear more! You are so talented. I agree, You are beautiful no matter the color of your hair! ….. and one more thing… You are so brave! I’m just a “couple” of years older than you and I keep trying to have the guts to do this! I love you!

    1. Love you too Val! I’ve been really enjoying writing, trying to get a book going, a lot of work and very therapeutic 🙂 As far as the gray goes, I’ll be happy once it’s all grown out! But I do like what I see so far, I have natural highlights 🙂

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