A Face in the Mirror












In her book The Primal Wound, adoption expert Nancy Verrier defines mirror as a verb:

“To reflect back, especially with babies, children’s own image of themselves so that they find that image to be positive. Mirroring, something that mothers do naturally, builds self-esteem in children.”

For an adoptee raised in a family with no genetic ties, mirroring doesn’t happen and many of us struggle to understand who we are and where we fit in this world.

When I became a parent I was thrilled when people told that my son and daughter looked like me. They were, after all, the first people I ever saw who were biologically related to me so. Even though I struggled to recognize the resemblance, knowing other people saw it was enough.

We just returned from spending a few days in the happiest place on earth–the city where my grandchildren live– and I had an experience while we were there that surprised me.

My daughter and I were sitting on the floor working on a puzzle with my granddaughter. Makiya is three now and at an age where we can really have a conversation together. (She’s also at the age where she has a qwirky sense of humor as evidenced by the goofy look on her face in the picture shown above!)

It struck me, as the three of us chatted and worked on the puzzle, that we resembled one another and that we shared the same DNA. I can’t do justice to the feeling I had with mere words, it was a sense at the core of me of belonging that I don’t ever remember feeling before.

I’ve spent many hours together with Laurinda and Makiya in the three years since my granddaughter was born and never had such a sensation. Perhaps the difference this time was that the three of us were relating to one another verbally, in addition to visually, in a simple and casual manner while we worked on the puzzle together. Perhaps it had something to do with three generations and a recognition of the circle of life.

I thought to myself, so this is what other people feel who are blessed to be able to spend their entire lives among people they are biologically related to.

It was an amazing and affirming moment.


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.
  1. Linda. I can so relate. I was raised in my family of origin. But now understand my son’s angst at not seeing anyone who looked like him until we reunited and he met his biological family. He looks so much like his father, who he has not met. But there are family resemblances from my side, which he reveled in. Same for me with my mother’s family, the people I didn’t know existed until 15 years ago, after my reunion with my son. How strange! My mother was an adoptee, and I never knew. So it was a lot like the adoptee experience, meeting others who looked and acted like me, from another side of my roots.

    Love your photos, and await news about your book. You are a wonderful writer and I can’t wait to read your story!

    With love,


  2. Linda, thank you for your honest, transparent description of your feelings as an adoptee experiencing the mirroring of seeing yourself in your daughter and granddaughter. Your description of what you were doing when this moment occurred, reminded me of multisensory learning, as you said, “Perhaps the difference this time was that the three of us were relating to one another verbally, in addition to visually, in a simple and casual manner while we worked on the puzzle together.” You all were engaged in visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning activity together as you worked on the puzzle. Thought you might enjoy a little blog post I wrote about multisensory learning…there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye 🙂

    1. Triplets at different ages. What fun.

  3. What a beautiful post and precious portrait of three generations,Linda! You bring up such an important point that those of us who are not adopted usually take for granted, the power of biological connections. I look at my grandson and see my own son ( his uncle), I see myself in my own mother, I see my daughter in me. Now you have your own biological ties ( love the little darling in the middle!) and I can see the resemblance. I appreciate your honesty and courage in sharing your story. Your memoir and your message will give voice to so many who have gone through the adoptive experience as you have
    Blessings to you and your family,

  4. Thank you for your kind and insightful posts. I look forward to your book. My two children were adopted from Russian orphanages and we strive to listen, validate, and explore their feelings. One of son’s friends asked him today (his mom is an adoptee, and was mortified) why Hunter’s “real” mother didn’t keep him. At eight years old, I was so proud that Hunter was able to put together a heart felt, articulate answer that makes sense to him. And isn’t sugar and roses.

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