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Adoption Blog: The Yin and the Yang

What Makes a Parent Proud

Both my daughters are on stage. It’s a dress rehearsal for a holiday show. I sit in the dark auditorium watching them twirl and sing. Kathryn is tall and graceful as she slides across the floor. Hanna, the shortest kid on stage, looks adorable with her hat pulled down to her cheeks.

The auditorium flickers with camera flashes. All the parents in the audience are snapping images or holding video cameras in the air. And this is just the dress rehearsal. But I am among them, snapping away. In the lull between songs, I wonder: What is it that makes a parent proud?

Before I became an adoptive parent, I probably would have said it is some domino effect of genetics that makes parents so proud. We see a reflection of ourselves in our children’s eyes and hair, their gaits and propensities, and this stirs pride within us. But now I know that can’t be all.

I watch Kathryn (biological), and see a child who looks like me. I watch Hanna (adopted) and see a child who looks nothing like me. And yet, I am equally proud. I get the same teary-eyed, lump-in-my-throat feeling watching either daughter be who they are—on stage, or in life.

There is one difference I notice, however. Watching Kathryn, I tend to hold my breath more, hoping she won’t stumble or fall. (Hey, tripping could be genetic. Many of my childhood pictures show my sister and me both with Band-Aids on our knees.) With Hanna, I feel no such pressure, at least in this one way. If she falls, it has nothing to do with my clumsy gene.

I’m teasing a little here, but it is in commonplace thoughts about similarities and differences like these that I often discover something extraordinary about adoptive parenting—and parenting itself.

Hanna has a hand on her hip and shimmies in time to the music, one finger on her other hand wags to the beat. She’s so darn cute I can’t stand it. Right this moment, I’m sure she must be the best dancer who has ever lived. I’m sure every mother in the room is thinking the same thing about her own kid.

So what is it? These dancers are not that good. The microphones are not hooked up, so we can hardly hear the singing. But we parents cannot help being atwitter with pride. If it’s not biology (which it can’t be in Hanna’s case), could it be familiarity? Actually, I think it’s more.

Hanna doesn’t have my eyes, my hair, my body, like Kathryn does. But she has my heart.

We parents—biological, adoptive, or otherwise—holding cameras and swiping tears of laughter off our cheeks, love our kids.

It’s love that makes us proud.

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Happy Holidays to all!

By Stacy Clark on Friday, December 24, 2010 at 6:04 pm.

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Stacy Clark

Stacy Clark


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