Don’t you just love targeted social media adverts?  

Recently, a well-known e-card shop sent me an advert for a Mother’s Day card. To me the card was harmless enough, but I can appreciate that for other adopted people it may bring up some complex feelings and emotions.  

The advert strapline was something along the lines of: “Shop hilarious Mother’s Day cards!”. The card showed a cartoon version of a double helix DNA ladder with the letter ‘U’ in the middle and the words ‘Thanks for sharing your fabulous DNA with me Mum’ underneath.  

As an inter-country transracial adopted person (yes that’s a mouthful!) who has no idea what their birth family, let alone birth mother or father look like, I did initially find that this little cartoon was a sharp reminder. I will never know who I share my DNA with. There are days when I would like to know which biological parent I look and sound like or if I have any similar quirks or mannerisms to either one, but this is something I will never know and am coming to peace with. Personally, I don’t find this card offensive and in fact, I find it quite amusing.  

Growing up I liked to find similarities between myself and my parents, and according to my mum this was something I had mentioned before as a young child. She retells the story where we are in our kitchen and she’s preparing the dinner, and a small voice pipes up: “I am quite white like you, aren’t I Mummy?”. My mum, intrigued as to where this conversation would go, stopped what she was doing, turned around, and walked towards me. As she approaches she notices I’m there with my hands open, palm sides up, looking at them inquisitively. She took my hands next hers and with her palms facing upwards too and she smiled saying “I suppose we do have that in common”. This allowed me to feel safe and connected with her. 

During my late teens, through to early adulthood and up to the present day, there are situations, such as medical appointments, that remind me that I don’t share the same DNA as my parents. The number of times I have been asked if certain conditions run in my family and I have to sit there and say: “I don’t know, I’m adopted”, are too many to count. My response is followed by the clinician giving a sympathetic look and the rest of the appointment then just feels awkward. On occasion I try to crack a joke to make the atmosphere fade, and that joke is normally along the lines of: “Well, it is frustrating not knowing if there’s a family history of type X condition, but at least I know I won’t have my mum’s bunions!”  

I shared the Mother’s Day card advert with my mum along with an amendment - “Thanks for not sharing your DNA. No bunions for me!” to which she replied: “Lucky for you!” 

I hope that whatever you do or don’t do this year for Mother’s Day, it makes for a peaceful moment in what for some can feel like a chaotic and turbulent time.