Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thank Goodness for Different Perspectives

"Oh wow.  Come over here for a minute, would you?"  My fiance Rudy was sitting on my couch with my iPad playing around.  He was flipping through some pictures and found a video my natural father had sent me a few days before.  At that point, Rudy had never seen anything other than pictures of my natural family members.  He was curious, so he hit play.  That's when he started freaking out and wanted to compare me to the video.  I was annoyed at the time because I was trying to do my hair but wondered what caused my fiance to interrupt the blow dryer, something he knows never to do.  Down he looked at the iPad screen, up he looked at me.  The video was filmed with the front facing camera of a cell phone.  It was pretty much square on, the best way to view a person.  And my natural father's face filled up the whole screen.  So this was probably the best way to compare things.

Rudy had seen pictures before.  This wasn't the first time he'd noticed similarities.  However, this was the first time he'd seen my natural father move and talk.  This was the first time he noticed expressions.  And the similarities were there and it freaked him out.  Up until that point, he never really got that he hadn't met a natural relative of mine.  He was used to me being different.  He was used to me being unique in my family.  He took his own relationship with his family for granted and never fully understood what I was missing.  That is, until he saw the video.

At the time, I didn't realize what a big thing it was for him, though I did quickly lose the annoyed feeling when I realized he was having a moment.  I had my own freak out a few months before when I met my natural father for the first time.  I didn't think about how things would affect him.  

It's funny, because I tend to forget that he's been along on this ride since the beginning.  We'd been dating for three and a half years when I entered into reunion with my natural mother.  He was there through the good times and bad, my subsequent reunion with my natural father, and now the beginning stages of my reunion with my sisters.  He attended the Adoptee Rights Demonstration in Chicago with me.  He's been so supportive of me and has been my rock through this entire thing.  And I have loved having him to hold my hand.  But I forget a lot that he's seeing things with different eyes.  It's not his whole world the way it was for me when I was going through reunion.  He's supportive, but he views everything differently.  And that's been fascinating to me.

Rudy was there with me when I met my natural mother for the first time, and again for my first meeting with my sisters.  He actually offered the most insights and helped me remember through the fog.  I was so wrapped up in my whole world changing that I missed things, especially the details that I cherish now.  He was able to walk me through it again and tell me what he thought of everything.  He knows me so well and knew what I needed from him.  And again, I forgot in those conversations that he went through it too in his own way.

Rudy has seen the similarities more than anyone.  He's seen the mannerisms better than even me, who can only see mine from my own perspective with the help of a mirror.  He sees where I get my nose so clearly without effort, while I need to hold up two pictures to see the full effect.  I forget that a lot.  He likes to remind me by saying deep and meaningful things when I least expect it.

Rudy once told me that in his eyes, reunion is like a game of battleship.  You aim in the dark and blindly shoot, hoping that you make contact somehow.  I think that's one of the best descriptions of reunion I've heard (and it came from a non-adoptee!).  He knows this because he's seen me shoot and miss.  He's also seen me shoot and make a connection.  He was there, and he was the one trying to help me figure out my next move on many occasions.  He know realizes just how much he values his own history and how important it is for everyone to have access to their own.  He told me just a few weeks ago that he's tired of me being treated like a second class citizen because it's just not right.

It's been interesting to get a second opinion from someone who's there, but in a totally different sense.  We plan on having children together one day and he's starting to see how this will all affect them as well.  Some of my questions will be passed down to them.  I get frustrated sometimes and he's starting to realize just how many of those could in theory get passed down.  Those things directly affect him.  He sort of got dragged into this situation because he managed to fall in love with an adoptee.  So it's been very interesting to hear his side of things and see how he views things.

These days, Rudy is struggling along with me trying to figure out where my sisters fit into our lives.  Rudy and my adoptive sister are close, but that came with time (years of dating me I suppose).  Like me, he's realizing that holidays are much more complicated than they used to be.  When we went shopping for Christmas presents, he struggled along with me trying to figure out what was appropriate in the situation and what wasn't (I think we picked well).  We're merging our lives, and a lot of our personal drama.

He has to learn to play battleship now too.  It's interesting to watch and I'm sure we'll both learn a lot along the way.