Detached Earlobes and Other Traits

3 Oct

Where did your hair color come from?


I have detached earlobes and can roll my tongue. My hair was blonde as an infant, then strawberry blonde when I was a toddler, then light brown (it’s blonde-ish again now, but I can thank the Cam Lai Salon in Georgetown for that one). My eyes are light blue, almost grey.

Who cares?

Well, a couple of science teachers I had in middle school and high school apparently.

There were several school assignments I had over the years that were hard or impossible to complete because I am adopted. Bring in your first baby picture was a little weird since my first picture shows me at 8 months old and my classmates all had newborn pictures to share. Illustrate your family tree wasn’t hard, because I have a small, easily documented family … but it did remind me that, in fact, my family tree was created through adoption. Without fail some kid in my class would ask, “Where is your mom?”. I was super confident in my family relationships, thankfully, so I would point at my mom’s position on the tree and say, “She’s right there.” That would lead to the inevitable, “No, I mean your real mom.” And I would say “Yeah. That’s her. Right there.”

Granted, these assignments could have been a lot harder. If, for example, I had been adopted as an older child, I might not have any baby pictures at all. If my family had a relationship with my birth family, the heritage tree project could have been confusing.

The assignment that I really couldn’t complete at all was the genetic mapping projects that came later. Find out who gave you your detached earlobes. Chart out the recessive and dominant traits in your family. That’s completely lost on an adopted kid who doesn’t know her birth family.

While I remember these frustrations, they didn’t end up being significant events in my life. That’s just me, though. I was curiously not curious about my origins growing up. My dad was my dad. My mom was my mom. I was of German heritage. Who cares who else in my family can roll their tongue?

However, I think they could be a lot more meaningful for some adopted kids – the ones with natural curiosity about their birth origins or with the complex family structures that often go hand-in-hand with adoption.

I recently stumbled across this resource to help adopted children work on tricky school assignments like the ones I describe above and others. It has some great tips for how to work with the teacher and how to help your kids actually complete the assignment.

Here’s one final memory I have of an assignment I had that was hard to complete. During an all about me project in middle school, I had to list my birthday- including the day and time of my birth. This was, of course, before the Internet. For some reason, we didn’t know the time of birth is recorded on one’s birth certificate, so this whole section had us stumped. My mom shrugged and said, “Make it up.” I decided Friday late afternoon would be a good time to be born. Years later, as an adult, I happened to notice that my birth certificate says I was born at 7:41 a.m. or something (of course, this is my re-issued birth certificate that says the parents who adopted me actually gave birth to me, so who knows if that thing can be trusted*). A few minutes ago Google told me that December 15 was a Sunday the year I was born. Oh well.

Whether you’re adopted or not, do you remember having to do these assignments? Do children still get assignments like these?


* That reminds me that I want to write about how weird birth certificates are one day.

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