Poop and Diamonds

“Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t come in.” – Alan Alda

Many years ago I worked for a law firm in Southern CT. I worked for the Senior Partner in charge of the Estate Planning and Taxation. Most of my duties were centered around managing the trust funds of our very wealthy clients. This included document preparation, review, execution and also managing the banking relationships. I set up accounts, closed, deposited checks, balanced the books, paid expenses.

That may sound impressive to some. It really wasn’t. Most of the expenses were written to camps for rich Jewish kids to attend. Others were releasing funds to a rich kid whose father was on a yacht in the Mediterranean and was too busy to see him . His love from daddy came from a nice chubby check once a month. I wrote those checks. I talked to those kids. I helped them with their college bursars office. I assured them (half heartedly) that their dad would call them soon. One poor kid in California talked to me more often than he talked to his father. (His mother was deceased). He was a nice kid. Senior Partner actually encouraged me to be friendly with the rich lonely kids. I often wondered if it was advertised as an extra service the law firm provided?

I was rather enamored with Senior Partner. He was a very large, physically daunting man. He was incredibly outrageously intelligent. He had a booming voice and just oozed confidence and power. He has a quick wit and was easy to joke with. In addition to his law partnership, he was a local real estate developer and owned a great deal of property. He was also a partner in a business in Northern NJ. Yes, I was involved in all of those efforts as well.

I liked him. I would even go so far as to say I had a crush on him. Intelligence always turns me on. Nothing better than having virtual sex with a brain. Smart, confident men with a sense of humor and bit of a soft side just make me melt. Senior Partner melted me. He had charisma.

During my stay at that firm it was commonly thought that Senior Partner was THEE best guy, lawyer, person, boss, etc. Everyone raved about him. No matter where I went I was regularly faced with someone oozing over him. Note this had nothing to do with his physical appearance. With all his wonderful traits, he was NOT attractive. He had a big head, was slightly bald, big nose. While tall, he was overweight but he hid that weight under very expensive suits and french cuffs and sparkling cuff links. He was given many gifts but looks was not one of them.

One night at a local tavern, I shared a few drinks with the girls from the office. Naturally we all gossiped about the firm, the partners, the secretaries, the clients. My senior partner was mentioned and as was typical they were gushing over him.

In that moment, something came to me. I offered it up to the girls.

"You know, did you ever think that Senior Partner is NOT that great. Did you ever think that the truth is that the rest of the firm is THAT poor? It is not hard to stand out when you are surrounded by turkeys. Senior Partner could be the diamond in a pile of poop. Of course we see the diamond. But that diamond may be of very poor quality. It might even be CZ. But resting in a pile of doodoo it looks fabulous. "

The girls started laughing.

This memory came to me today as I mused over a somewhat similar adoption thread.

Mothers (myself included) are often lead to believe that our lost children welcome the opportunity to see people who look like them. We erroneously believe that it will be comforting to them to finally see where they got those fabulous green eyes from, or their curly hair, or the freckles that dot their cheeks. There are many books and blogs and threads about this. Adoptee A is finally happy to know where she got her flat feet from. She feels like she fits in. She belongs here. It is obvious that these people that look, think and act like her are her family. She is home. She is no longer the odd one out. Finding a familiar face is comforting.

It never occurred to me that the reverse might also be true. I shouldn’t say it randomly occurred to me. Truth is, it was told to me by two different adoptees.

Adoptees might actually NOT be comforted by finding people that looked like them. It might be threatening and disappointing and make more cracks in their identity versus sealing cracks.

Imagine you are a a very smart incredibly beautiful adoptee. Imagine your adoptive family is not intelligent. Physically, they are plain, simple, maybe even very unattractive. You stand out from the crowd. You are the diamond in the pile of river rocks. (Poop seems inappropriate to use here). Everywhere you go, your adoptive family is told how beautiful you are, how smart you are. Your ego is puffed up more and more and you cling to your beauty, your uniqueness. It makes you special. There is only one of you. No one looks like you. No one around you is as special and fabulous as you are.

How do you feel when suddenly, upon reunion, you are presented with one (or more!) beautiful, smart, unusual, creative people like yourself. It is not comforting. It is disturbing. You aren’t so special or unique anymore. Your self-esteem was built upon being different and fabulous and exotic. Now you are just one of THEM. A face in the crowd. A copy of an original. Simulacrum.  Now you are not so special and different and jinkees you are ADOPTED!!

Do you welcome the feeling of being average or do you prefer to be back where you were amazing and fantastic and worshiped for your beauty and brains? Do you wish to remain a diamond in a sea of diamonds or do you prefer to sparkle amongst the dull river rocks?

My lesson?

To think. To question and to not take everything I read about adoption as something that necessarily applies to my daughter or my experience.  There can be similarities. There can also be differences.   

There are many cuts of diamonds. Do not assume just because they look like that they are alike.

5 Thoughts.

  1. Curly hair…green eyes…. are you calling me a turkey? 🙂
    Well, I like knowing where my traits come from. For me it is validating…a little disturbing but validating mostly. I met a cousin of mine this spring though and seriously, I think he is the most stunningly beautiful person I have ever met in my life.
    I’m not kidding …in my LIFE!
    “THAT’S my cousin?!!!”
    Man oh man!
    I always thought genetic attraction was gross but this dude is smokin’ hot!
    I’m joking about the genetic attraction thing but not about how hot my cousin is.
    But you know what was even cooler? He is apparently even more gorgeous on the inside.
    And his wife was the only person at the entire family gathering who actually asked me a question ABOUT ME so she’s pretty cool in my book too.
    And that is what really made me glad to know him.

  2. Ha! Issy! Completely forgot you had green eyes and curly hair. NO! It wasnt you! The green eyes was a reference to me and my daughter, the curly hair my friend Jo and her mom, freckles my son, I just picked memories are random to illustrate my point. Sorry for the obvious parallell!

  3. Did you notice how even though I have green eyes and curly hair and freckles on my nose,I didn’t bluster in and accuse you of talking about me? I didn’t storm and rage and threaten never to read your blog again.
    I asked nicely for clarification and with a smiley face too; and it was a sincere smiley face at that!
    And you very nicely responded and I so appreciate that.
    Thank you. 🙂
    For real.

  4. Suz: You have a wonderful gift of words.
    Its odd but I tried to write something similar on a blog this morning. Sure didnt come out like this. You have made the point clearly.

  5. As an ugly duckling, I also really loved finally seeing myself reflected. I loved it when I stood there, and my mom poked and prodded me a like a side of beef and broke down my physical traits and body into “her family” or “his family.”
    My favorite part was when she had to sadly state that she could not be accountable for my fabulous butt. She said that was absolutely from my dad’s side of the family.
    And yes, I was stunned to see how attractive my 3 brothers were too. And I thought my mother was beautiful.
    All in all, it made me feel proud to share their gene pool.

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