As an adopted child myself, I’ve taken a special pleasure in watching the emerging family traits in my children, and now grandchildren.
In fact, our family traits are so strong that their parentage has been guessed at first glance by friends of ours.
However, my children didn’t marry all blue-eyed blondes. We have one family who does not resemble us. At least, that is at first glance. Instead, all three of my daughter’s boys look just like their father–and his father. Their paternal grandfather is from the Philippines.
The blending of our family traits has made some beautiful little boys. But they are far from the little blue eyed toe-heads that dominate our family.
Loving a grandchild that doesn’t look like he even dipped his big toe into your gene pool is not an issue. However, it can be for your grandchild. They need to know and feel like they belong.
Here’s the thing. It’s most likely not even you that will make them feel different. It’s the comments other people make, and the questions they ask.
“Is he your grandson?”
This question alone can make him feel singled out.
“If you have more than one grandchild with you, answer in a way that includes all of your grandchildren rather than singling out the one who may look different.
When you have adopted grandchildren, it’s important to be doubly protective of how they preceive their role in the family.
“If asked about “real” parents, grandparents, or siblings, simply state that you are his real family.
“When asked where a child is “from,” some parents and grandparents respond with the name of the place where he currently lives. Some say something like, “He was born in Korea, but now he lives here with us.” You are not obligated to go into any more detail.
It’s important to handle inquiries in a way that will make your grandchild feel loved and secure. If you respond with hostility, your grandchild may feel that there is something to be upset about. It’s best to respond in a calm, matter-of-fact voice. Don’t let yourself be maneuvered into giving a lot of personal details. One strategy is to excuse yourself and walk away, but sometimes that’s not possible. Sometimes you can successfully change the subject by asking about the questioner’s family.
Although it is natural to want to protect your grandchild, generally children handle such situations with equanimity. By responding calmly and yet telling only what you choose to tell, you’ll be modeling for your grandchild a way of handling the questions that he or she will face some day.”
Here’s the important thing to always remember. The real family traits that you can pass down, the ones that actully matter–are your family values. Faces will change through the generations, but your faith, and love of family is a trait that each generation can bear.