your mother’s eyes

24 january 2019

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you look just like your…

I’m changing it up a bit with things I’ve never heard. Never have I heard someone say how much I look like my mother. Never have I heard anyone say I have this or that from a member of my family. And most of the time that’s been ok. But sometimes it weighs on me, the loss of not knowing what my first parents look like, what traits I have from them, what traits I might share with some other family member. It’s something that might seem pretty superficial but comes up more often than I would like. I used to hate looking at myself in the mirror… for more reasons than just adoption but that was definitely one of them. Looking at myself and looking at my mom and not seeing anything the same on the outside hurt. I remember as a kid I wished I had her blue eyes. I remember hating my nose because it was wider and flatter than hers. I remember hating one of my eyes because one eyelid was more ‘white’ than the other so why couldn’t the ‘asian’ eye-lid just catch up to the white-r one, maybe then I wouldn’t get called “chink” on the street walking to middle school. I just wish sometimes I could see myself in my family…but I can’t. When a new family member is born it sometimes hurts to hear “Oh, they look so much like grandpa when he was a baby!”, “Wow, look at the resemblance” knowing I’ll never hear that. Sometimes it sends me into a loop of I-wish-I-hads or I-wish-I-knews. Reading Nicole Chung’s book, All You Can Ever Know I realized the only way I’ll ever have this is if I have biological children and that’s a huge if. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t point out resemblance or celebrate them but more to say that it’s hard for those of us to share in that feeling when I don’t have that. It’s hard to feel like you belong sometimes when you don’t look like the people around you. Being the only asian person in my family I often feel like alone surrounded by people who I love but don’t share that with, a yellow sheep so to speak.

I can’t describe how good it felt the first time I remember seeing people who looked like me and that being the majority, the comfort and ease that came with just knowing there are other people like you out there. It’s a long held fantasy of one day seeing a picture of my biological parents and being able to point to their faces and see something of mine in both of theirs but who’s to say if that day will ever come.