The other day as I pushed the boys around a shop, a stranger stopped me. How cute, she exclaimed (about the twins, not me), and doesn’t that one look like you! She pointed at A. And I resisted the urge to say that no, actually he doesn’t.
A doesn’t have my mouth or nose or ears. His eyes, while the same colour as mine, are a completely different shape. In short, he has none of my physical features (although I’m picking up a strong shared tendency to stubbornness). And there is no reason why he should. Genetically, the boys are my partner’s. A and R both look like her.
When we first discussed the options for having kids, it was clear that for many reasons it made sense to use my partner’s eggs. After a little thought I was happy to say that the fact that I would have no genetic link to my children was not an issue for me. There are many family structures where children and their parents are not genetically related, and it doesn’t change the fact that they are a family. So I was right – it isn’t an issue for me. But I sometimes wonder whether it will be an issue for others.
What if I had told that woman in the shop that she was quite wrong to suggest A looked like me? That her perception resulted from an incorrect assumption about the relationship between us? Possibly I would insult her, and probably embarrass her. After all, she was just making a nice comment. But on the other hand, my silence allowed the incorrect assumption to stand. As the boys get older I want them to know that genetics is only one way a family can be connected. They are my children and I am their mother, irrespective of the lack of shared genes. And, frankly, I don’t care who knows it.
So I’m fine with the fact that A and R don’t look like me, although on occasions I do wish I looked more like them. The other night a new friend asked if I had any photos of the boys on me (silly question, just a few hundred on my phone…). When I showed her some she announced, quite rightly, that they are gorgeous. And they are, but sadly I can’t take any credit for it.