3/04/2009

Echoes

Last night some one said, looking at my profile, that I looked like Theo. "Not that Theo looks like you, but that you look like Theo," she said.

Yesterday morning I had an ultrasound (the first of tests to determine the all-important question of why I cannot drink coffee anymore, nor eat chocolate) and the technician asked me if I'd had one before. I said, yes, six years ago, when pregnant with my son, and I was sure she had done it. We checked dates and agreed that was so. (She has an eastern European accent that makes her memorable.) So after my test I hauled out pictures of both my sons. I told her that, when Theo was born, he looked so familiar to me I wondered if I wasn't recognizing him from the ultrasound profile picture.

I spent the day yesterday with my mother. I always think of her as being in her mid-40's, which is impossible since that is my age. When I look at my hands now I see her hands. I am, now, instead of seeing my father's features, beginning to see the lines of her face as it has aged in my own mirror.

I don't know if I recognized Theo immediately from his ultrasound picture or from the echoes of my own face in his. Or, perhaps, from the echoes of the man I've sat across the table from for many years now, flitting across Theo's features. It is a strange thing about birth families, these shifting resemblances, reminders of where we came from and who we are connected to.

I have an adopted son as well. His beautiful face does not remind me of my own; his face is an echo of people I may never meet. He will not have the same experience of looking at my face and being reminded of how he will age. Our genetic relationship is more distant.

But it is still there. Kelly told me the other night that we are all related, twelve generations back. Adoption makes that seem quite real -- the connections of genetics one generation removed provide us with delightful, irritating, and haunting reminders of our connections, but we are all related, connected, in many ways, at the root of it all. Agreeing to be the parent of someone not specifically from your body means living out both the ways we are different, as people, and the ways we are the same. A child needs love, care, shelter, and the response of -- if not a face that looks like theirs -- one that has memorized their every contour and lights up when it sees them.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

A long time ago, Lauren and I learned that we were related to each other (many steps back and sidewise). Also, many years ago, after my mother had died, and I had taken a coat and some gloves that she had worn, I looked down at my hands wearing the coat and gloves I had taken, and I saw my mother. It was a distinct flash of recognition and knowing.
Catharine

Anne-Marie said...

Michelle,

I know just what you mean about your hands. I don't know that I see my mom's hands as much as I see the hands of an older woman. How did that happen? And when? Did they suddenly look old or has it been coming for a while?

We spent last weekend with Dave's aunt and if I didn't look at her face, I would swear her hands were that of her mother (Dave's grandma)...so I suppose mine look like my mom's as well.

Dave looks so much like his father...and his father like his father...surely a sign of what Dave will look like in his 70s.

Any more word on the results of the ultrasound?

Michelle said...

Seems I'm not the only one seeing someone else in the mirror, or my hands, or across the table.

The ultrasound was clear -- so my gallbladder, I guess, is good.