MicroblogMondays: What to Say?

One day my sister-in-law came to join me and the kids at the play gym.  At the end while I was putting the kids in the stroller and giving them some snacks, my sister-in-law suddenly said, “I need to apologize for something that I said; I made a mistake on your behalf.”  At that moment, I half-guessed what she meant, and it wasn’t far off from my hunch.  She and my brother had dinner with a mutual friend, and the topic of our twins came up.  This mutual friend asked, “How come the twins looked nothing like Isabelle?”  My sister-in-law wasn’t thinking much and blurted out that it was somebody else’s eggs, or something to that effect.  Our mutual friend thought that it was our gestational carrier’s eggs, but my SIL clarified that it was someone else’s.  Once my SIL said it out loud, she knew that she had made a mistake from seeing the horror on my brother’s face.  She made our mutual friend swear that she won’t tell others, but she didn’t feel good that I didn’t know that this mutual friend knew.  She explained that she was caught off guard at that moment.  When this topic comes up, she usually would say that Bob’s genes are very strong and the kids just look a lot like him.  But this time she just told it without thinking about it.  Afterwards, my brother was more mad at the friend than my sister-in-law because he felt that she shouldn’t have asked, as the question puts people on the spot.  My SIL was horrified that she had told someone without consulting with me first and she was sincerely sorry about it.  I told her that it is okay because this is not some dark secret.  But I have been working on telling the kids about their genetic origins and before they have the cognitive ability, language, and maturity to tell people about it, I do not want those other than our chosen friends and family to know.

How did/do I feel about it?  It has been a few days and I am still processing my feelings.  I am not mad at my SIL at all.  It IS a difficult question to answer and I felt that I should have prepared my loved ones better by giving them an answer to give people who ask.  I am a bit mad at our mutual friend.  What gives her the right to question why my kids don’t look like me?  I mean, plenty of people do not look like their parents.  If their parents did not use a gestational carrier to carry and give birth to them, I doubt that their friends and family would ask why they don’t look like their parents.  The fact that our family building path involved a gestational carrier makes people feel that they can question the origin of my kids’ genetics.  Just because I didn’t get to carry my babies, the chances of encountering difficult to answer questions are so much higher.  At the same time, I did use donor eggs to create my family.  And again, this is not some dark secret, so I feel that I *should* be okay with these questions because I should own up to my decision proudly.  I don’t know.  Like I said, I am still processing my feelings.  One thing I am sure is that my SIL probably won’t blurt out donor eggs easily in the future. And, I should think about how to prepare my family better in the future because I am sure this question is going to come up again.

9 thoughts on “MicroblogMondays: What to Say?

  1. “Genetics are strange in how they manifest.” “Why do you ask?”
    Sorry she encountered rudeness and reacted without thinking.

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  2. Just this weekend I was asked “where’d you get him from?” I was stunned not because I haven’t heard variations of that question before, but because it’s been so long since I’ve been asked. We are 100% open about how our family was built through adoption so most people already know where our son was born and also know how to ask such question. So I took the moment to educate this person on where my son was born, not where I got him from and then answered some questions they had about adoption in general. (I realize our situations are not they same, but thought this was a good example of being caught off guard).

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    • I think a lot of people don’t know how to talk about adoption! There is a segment of society which still thinks adoption is about “buying” a baby, unfortunately.

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  3. Our baby is also done with donor eggs. We have told people around us openly, as I felt I didn’t want to hear comments about how she looked like me and then I would feel like lying if I didn’t correct them. I tought to build a story book to our daughter of her beginnings, and start to read that to her once a month and then one day she will understand what it means.

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  4. Ouch. I am so sorry this happened. I don’t know why people are so obsessed with who babies look like and how much. When we were in the thick of egg donor and then donor sperm, we wondered how were react to those questions. Then we went to adoption and the chance of our possible child looking anything like either of us went down dramatically, but still you shouldn’t have to explain biological and biography to everyone. It stinks to have that information out of your hands, to have parts of your children’s story out there before you can have them understand. It sounds like things were handled decently well; I feel for your SIL and I totally get your irritation with the mutual friend for opening Pandora’s Box and being nosy. Because as you said, it’s not a secret, but it would be nice if your children could process things first before everyone else gets in the mix.

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  5. I see your situation no different then ours. We are white, our children are Chinese. People who meet us naturally assume they are adopted. A few have asked me is my husband is Asian, and I just tell them no, we adopted from China. Nothing to hide or over think. It is what it is and it’s no secret. To hide the truth doesn’t even make sense. Everyone has their own story. For what it’s worth, who cares “where” the kids come from? People are naturally curious and if you are open and up front, there is no fear of secrets or betrayal!

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  6. That’s a strange thing to ask. There are so many kids who don’t look like their parents – some take after grandparents of cousins for instance. It’s not some dark secret like you say but it wouldn’t be fair if the information ends up coming to the twins some other way. For instance if their friends overhear their parents saying something.

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  7. People feel so entitled to ask intimate questions like that. I literally look NOTHING like my mother and no one would think to ask hey why doesn’t she look like you, they automatically assume I look just like my father. People shouldn’t feel like they have the right to ask that.

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  8. I don’t think it’s necessary to hide where your kids are “from.” My son is via a GS and donated embryo (since Asian eggs are SO HARD to find) and though he KIND of looks like me (I swear he is basically an Asian boy with ginger-ish hair. And there are gingers – three of them! – on my husband’s side). I wouldn’t go out of the way to tell them, but if anyone asks, yes, I’ll say that he was from a donated embryo. We know very little about his donors, just details about ethnic background (half Chinese, half Scottish/Irish) and that he has a full sister.

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