It’s so strange to realize that I carried Amelia inside of me, I literally gave her life, yet she shares none of my DNA. I remember, about a year ago in an airport a random stranger came up to me and said, “Your daughter looks exactly like you!” I was beaming and rushed to Krystal to tell her. This had NEVER happened before and it nearly brought me to tears.
As a non-genetic parent, it is seldom that attributes or character traits get credited to me. Through no ones fault or intention, I often feel left out of the equation and find myself adding to the discussion (sometimes aggressively) reminders that I gave birth to her and carried her. To put it simply, I often feel forgotten when people take toll of Amelia’s attributes.
When attributes do get credited to me it is often what society would considers the ‘negative’ attributes; bossy, stubborn, picky, OCD, etc. (On a different topic, society needs to stop calling young girls bossy!) Although, I am sure these are some personality traits she did inherit from me, it would be nice if these were said in a more positive light.
Last weekend, Amelia came to see the show I had been working on where I technical direct/teach. As soon as the show ended, Amelia requested to go on stage and then immediately asked for a microphone. She then spent the next twenty minutes singing Encanto songs through a live microphone on stage. I could not of been prouder, not just as a theater teacher, but as a non-genetic mother to see my traits shine so brightly through.
This topic has come up more frequently as Krystal and I decide on how to grow our family. As I often do, I turn to books to help process all the feelings that arise. Currently I am reading “Three Makes Baby: How to Parent Your Donor Conceived Child” by Jana M. Rupnow. This book focuses more on couples trying to decide if they should be open about donor conception with their children (mainly heterosexual couples), but it does provide some good insights.
In her book, Jana defines nature as “prewiring by genetic inheritance” and nurture as “the influence of environmental and experimental factors” (pg. 104). So in our situation Krystal would be the nature and the nurture and I would be the nurture. It is never quite that simple, because Epigenetics plays a vital role in influencing your child’s genetics and how they develop, starting as early as pregnancy.
Although, this book helped me grapple with some of these questions and insecurities, I think its easier to leave science out of it and trust what I know in my heart. There are still times I grieve the lack of physical and genetic resemblances and these insecurities sneak in. I am reminded that families are bound by love not bloodlines (pg. 6).
But what I know to be true is that Amelia resembles me and she resembles Krystal but she is unique in her own way. She is her own person and to watch her grow into her own individual, science, nature, nurture, epigenetics, mommies combined is the biggest honor and privilege of my life.