When it comes to the adopted world, dialogue is a tricky one. There are 3 sides of the Adoption triad that could be hurt or offended by the way people speak to us or about us. Which makes it tricky in general for everyone involved.

As I’ve gone through all stages of my life so far there have been times where being adopted has affected me more than others. With that there have been things that have been said to me that affect or offend me sometimes and other times it doesn’t.

So let’s talk coincidences or KAWINKADINK’s if you will. I prefer the latter but you can choose what floats your boat.

I’ve noticed in my lifetime that people like to bring up coincidences when it comes to us adoptees. But what I don’t think people realize is that sometimes mentioning these kawinkadinks can affect us more than you might think. When people find out I’m adopted I’ve often heard something similar to this…

“You are? But you look just like your mom/or dad?! That’s crazy!” or

“No way I’d never even guess that!”

or when noticing some physical characteristic similar to my parents…

“That’s so funny that you got your mom’s toenail. or But you got that toenail from your mom!”

Now let me be frank. Sometimes in my younger years those statements didn’t necessarily bother me. I realize that’s the usual response if you find out somebody is adopted and they look like their adoptive parents or family. Then as I got older these sort of phrases seriously made my blood boil over & I wanted to hit people in their forehead and say something like..

“It is funny that we have the same toenail but actually I didn’t get that toenail from my mom and it would be nice to know where I got it from but I can’t would you like to know why or is that a convo for another time?”

Harsh? I dunno. But that’s how I felt, however I never said that because I figured that would probably be a bit awkward for everyone. So instead I grinned and nodded and I was pleasant, while inside I felt the opposite.

As innocent as their comments were, and I got them many times in some version or another. I just wanted to tell them that it was just a crazy coincidence. Ya know a.. ‘remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.’ But due to the fact that I am not biologically related to my parents means that no physical part of me came from them.

I understand how that is sometimes people’s knee jerk reaction when finding out that somebody is adopted. I get it because I myself have responded the same way when I’ve heard of others that are adopted. Those actual words have come out of my mouth before and that embarrasses me to admit. The unfortunate part of this innocent knee jerk reaction is that you don’t know how much it might actually affect that person.

Like I said sometimes these phrases and others relating to being adopted would hurt and sometimes they wouldn’t. But you know what they a l w a y s did no matter my current mindset.

They always reminded me that I was placed and sometimes that reminder isn’t the greatest feeling.

I don’t like to say given up that’s a whole other conversation. But it always reminded me that I wasn’t where I was originally placed. It reminded me of my thousands of unanswered questions and of all the curiosity about where I did get these characteristics from and if others out there had them. It reminded me of all my what if’s. It reminded me of feeling alone. It reminded me that while I was very fortunate for my beautiful life that I’d been given that it didn’t necessarily start out beautiful.

So as innocent as your next comment might be try and remember that kawinkadinks might mean more than you think.

I don’t say these things to make people feel bad or guilty about comments they may have made on my behalf. Because like I said, I get it, I’ve done the same thing. I guess I just want to help us be more aware that the next time you want to tell an adoptee how much they look like their adoptive family, and as fun as that might be. It’s also is a painful reminder that we don’t know who out there in the big old world we do look like. Possibly that’s a small thing to others, but to us it’s huge!

Love, Jenni

p.s. I know you’re curious about the toenail thing aren’t you? So here are the facts:

-Yes I have a funky vertical toenail that comes from deep down in my skin, it doesn’t just lay on top. I’ve always just put nail polish on my skin to hide it! haha.

-Yes my adopted mom has the same one, weird right?

-No my birth mom doesn’t have it. I know this because my husband checked when we met her hahaha.

and NO I’m not posting a picture of it. Can you say childhood trauma of boys teasing me about it! hahaha.

Instead I’ll post a photo of my family and yes my brother and I look similar to our adoptive parents. What a kawinkadink!


  1. Holly
    September 10, 2019 / 11:36 pm

    So, Jen, it never bothered me because very few people knew that I was adopted when I was young but as I became an adult, I wanted people to know that I had been so very blessed to have been placed in my adoptive parents’ arms. Those whom I shared my secret were shocked because I “looked” so much like my adoptive mom and dad. I had two other adopted cousins who looked very much like their parents as well. I always felt that the reason this was so is because of my spiritual beliefs. I believe the Lord knew who you, I and other adoptees were to call mom and dad and we ended up right where he intended.

    Now that I know whom my birth parents are, a new chapter in my life has opened and I am excited to share with friends and family whom my birth parents are. I love that I look very much like my birth mother because I think she is beautiful. I like looking at fingers and toes which look like mine, and I finally learned whose nose mine looks like. I know why I am short, and where my ancestors came from. I was raised as an only child but now know that I have 10 half-brothers and sisters.

    The knowing is what I needed to close one chapter to move in to the next. I am grateful for all of these experiences which have made me whom I am.

    • theadoptedride
      September 17, 2019 / 9:14 pm

      I love this Holly, thanks for sharing!
      And I totally agree on our Heavenly Father knowing where we were intended to be. Funny the way things work out and even funnier that it was all made to be that way.

  2. Hannah
    November 16, 2019 / 12:41 pm

    Hi Jenni! I love hearing your perspective, thanks so much for sharing! My daughter is adopted (2.5 years old), and we get comments ALL the time about how she looks just like me from people that know she’s adopted and often many people that have no idea (like the grocery store cashier lol). I love that we have some similar features, but I also want to be sensitive to how those comments effect her. Any advice on how to handle them? Or I’m thinking it may be best to have conversations with her as she grows and keep the communication open so I can know if she’s struggling? Thankfully we do have a relationship with her birth mom so hopefully that open door will help lessen some of the questions and wonder for her. Thanks again!

    • theadoptedride
      November 25, 2019 / 10:57 pm

      Hey Hannah! Thanks for the comment, I love when people resonate with things I say.
      I think it’s bound to happen when adopted kids look like their parents. Especially since most people assume kids came from their parents. My mom always liked when people mentioned similarities, it made her feel more connected. I can see her side as well. All of us adoptee’s grow up with similar but also different perspectives. Your daughter could end up loving when people say you look alike. You never know. So I think doing just what you said is the best advice. Continue to have conversations through the years because it may change one year to the next. I don’t remember anyone asking me “How does that make you feel when people say you look like your parents.” So asking and accepting the answer whatever it may be , in my opinion is truly the best thing you can do for her! Ps. You’re already ahead because your willing to learn from other adoptees. I think that’s tough on many adoptive parents. So keep up the good work!

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