La Familia

Mr. X and I watched part of the Godfather III last night.  Myself, I was mostly annoyed that Sophia Coppola at the tender age of 19 got to suck face with Andy Garcia the entire movie – lucky girl! – despite the fact that her acting skills in no way compare with her writing and directing skills.  Second, I was amused by the fact that Francis Ford Coppola cast at least two members of his immediate family – Sophia, his daughter, and his sister Talia – in a movie that follows the saga of what happens when family ties rule all others.  I wonder if Coppola saw the irony in this or felt it was required to make the making of the movie an equally family affair as the movie was.

I was reminded again, though, of the theme of this blog post that I have been thinking about this week – family, and what it means.  My mother has been on a tear recently scanning old family photos and sending them around.  I am struck, again and again, by how much of our ancestors I see in her, my uncle (her brother), and me. 

And, suddenly, it has become very important to me for us to have a biological child of our own who we can look into their little faces and see ourselves.  I have this (probably irrational) feeling that if I can’t recognize myself in my child, then I won’t be able to love them or bond with them.  Of course, I have also recently thought that it would be fabulous if I could do housework naked and that I really want to get a house-dress so that if I am unable to do housework naked (nosy neighbors!) I can still have that luscious freedom of movement that comes without restrictive clothing.

I think some weird shit in the course of a day.

Still, I’m bothered by my apparent all-or-nothing attitude right now towards biological children.  I find the notion that I want My Child not someone else’s rather … snobbish. I think part of the problem is that my mother and I are extremely fortunate in that one of our ancestors had the time and ambition to write the definitive genealogy for the family back in the 19th century.  It is an imposing tome – going back all the way to the Mayflower.  Yep, my stock comes from the Mayflower, although true to form, I think they croaked when the boat was docked in the harbor.  It is unclear if they actually stepped foot on Plymouth Rock before expiring.  Other highlights: I’m related to Ben Franklin (although not directly – it’s through his sister), we have one relative who is memorialized in a sculpture somewhere South, there is talk of an Indian scalping, and a sprinkling of relatives served on either side of the Mason-Dixon during the War Between the States.

So, why is this a burden?  I don’t know how to share this history with a child who is not related to me or my mother (or my father) or my husband or any of our family.  This isn’t their history – they have a history all of their own.  But, at the same time, I would be that child’s mother no less than if I donated the egg.  My history should be their history, too.  But, would we constantly look in their faces to see ourselves and those who came before us? Why is that so important to me?

It’s not like my family has graced the covers of Vogue.  We’re not the most handsome or the most ugly family.  But, there are certain traits that are passed down from generation to generation.  A voice, the slenderness of a finger, eyes.  There is something very comforting in seeing yourself reflected back at you.  Can I live without that? 

Even if I had a biological child, I might have to: upon the joyous occasion of my birth, my father apparently was appalled that I looked exactly like his mother-in-law (I doubt my grandmother would have ever found out about this. She didn’t have the world’s best sense of humor).  Apparently, he couldn’t see anything of himself in me.

8 thoughts on “La Familia

  1. As the wife of an adoptee as well as (hopefully) someday to be the mother of an adoptee as well, I know a lot of what you are saying.

    When my husband was my fiance I asked him about how he felt his connections were to his parents, relatives, and his parents ancestors,now long gone. “Don’t you have friends whose parents you like and others whose parents you don’t?”

    “Of course.”

    “Same thing. Some of my relatives I don’t care for. I don’t like. But some–they are more my relatives because of my choice than they would be because of my blood.”

    As we wait (and wait and wait) I am comforted by this. I also will watch my husband and my in-laws and see D in them, and see their habits and manner of speaking in D.

    Also, over the course of being married 12 years, I see myself in my husband. I am into things that he likes and he is into things I like. Sometimes we’ll use the other’s sayings and manner of speaking. I’m told it happens to a lot of couples.

    I’m in no way saying “Adopt.” I’m just saying that if you ever see yourself in your husband, why would you think you wouldn’t see yourself in a child who is not yours by blood?

  2. I have thought the same as you. I want more than anything to continue our family with children that are directly connected. I think I am becoming more accepting of the idea of adoption, and I don’t think I would ever love my child less because they were adopted. I just think it’s a connection to my past that I don’t want to let go of yet. Our family is a bit unique in that my husband has a brother and I have a brother, neither of which are married and both have declared they will not be having children. My husband and I are the only ones to continue the branch in the tree, otherwise it ends forever and that makes me extremely sad.

  3. As an avid genealogist, I’m totally with you, & I have blogged on this subject before. Totally apart from my own desire to see my own genes & dh’s passed on, I have wondered how an adopted child would view my fascination with genealogy & how family relationships echo through the generations (for better & sometimes for worse).

    It sounds like you have a fascinating & well-detailed family tree! I think it’s so cool to have all that knowledge about your family! (Which also makes me wonder how I could deny an adopted child that knowledge of his or her own genetic heritage — although that’s not quite as much of a concern these days with open domestic adoptions….)

  4. As my mother is fond of telling me, I look nothing like her and everything like my father. I obviously want biological children or else I wouldn’t be pursuing surrogacy, but the longer this situation goes on, the more I’m finding myself challenging previously-held ideas about biological relatedness. I want children related to me and DH but not necessarily the rest of my family. It’s a lot to think about.

  5. Yet another thought-provoking post, Mrs X!

    I’m not sure whether I have any real answers to some of the issues you raise, but just wanted to say that, as we begin to think seriously about moving to donor egg, I’m struggling with some of the exact same questions.

  6. Thinking that you might not (or might not want to) bond with a child who’s not 100% made by You + DH is not snobbish. It’s honest. We all have our own personal ideas about how far we’ll go to become parents, what doesn’t matter in the least about how we get there, and what means everything. All you can do is acknowledge your thoughts and feelings on the issues, talk them out as a couple (and online, of course!), and adjust/not adjust your thinking as circumstances arise.

  7. I completely understand where you are coming from with this. It would be very hard to let go of that idea of recognizing yourself in your kids. I wonder, though, if you would still see yourself in an adopted child. Not through biology, but through interaction-I would think they would pick up some of your habits and mannerisms, but maybe not to the extent of a bio child?

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