All in all, these kids of ours are pretty awesome.  They’re funny, polite (especially to other people), responsible, good natured…there’s only one question we hear from folks more often than the compliment that we’ve got great kids.

“Are they biological sister and brother?”

I honestly didn’t get this at first and truth be told it still perplexes me.  T-man and Bear didn’t come home together, which is the first and most obvious sign of adopting siblings, so this isn’t a timing thing.  Their skin tones and body types are different enough that you’d think it would give people pause, and yet we get this question a lot.  This is how the conversation usually goes.

“You have such great kids!”

“Thank you!”

“I hope you don’t mind my asking, but are they biological sister and brother?”

“No, they aren’t.”

Really??  I’ve always thought they were.”

“They’re not, but we get that question a lot.”

“But they look so much alike!”

By this point I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle and it’s time to wrap it up.  Sometimes I comment that a lot of people agree they do look alike, sometimes I mention that their birthmothers had similar traits…sometimes I simply smile and deflect.  It depends on my mood, I guess.

But here’s the thing:  I don’t see it.  Not the great kids part, they really are great kids, but the resemblance?  Beyond some basic physical traits T-man and Bear have in common, I just can’t see it.

The most persuasive argument for this perception is probably the fact that both kids are tall for their age, but other than that?  Well, let’s take a look.

The first thing that comes to mind is that they’re both biracial, but that doesn’t mean they look the same.  It’s not just that one child is darker than the other; they have different skin tones altogether.  Bear’s skin ranges from a light tan with honey undertones in winter to a richer almond in the summer.  T-man’s base color is a darker walnut that browns to a beautiful espresso in the summer.  I don’t mean to sound nitpicky, but it matters.  My kids may both be biracial, but they’re distinctly different.

If I step back from focusing on skin color, I see two entirely distinct body types.  T-man is long and lanky, a young man with sinewy muscles and a bright smile.  Bear has grown almost as tall as her brother, but she’s strong and sturdy with powerful muscles on her frame.  There’s no mistaking one for the other, that’s for sure.

Then I look closer…at face shape, eyes, eyebrows, ears, foreheads, noses…and still, I get nothing.  I see the tiny things that make each child uniquely themselves.

So this reaction where most everyone is stunned to learn T-man and Bear aren’t related biologically?  I figure it’s one of two things: either people are seeing something I simply can’t, or they see what they expect to see.  It’s an interesting puzzle, and it makes me wonder what my own expectations make me see in other families.