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Published Monday May 11th, 2009 at 6:43pm

Original Article by Lorraine Dusky

What do amazing coincidences and similarities between birth/firstmothers/fathers reunited with children who have been relinquished foradoption mean? They mean we are related. They are the normalsimilarities that are found between people who share the same DNA.Jane, the daughter I gave up for adoption and I found many similaritiesthroughout the years we knew each other.

What absolutely blew meaway were the sandals Jane arrived with that first summer she came tovisit. I had the exact a pair of the exact same style and size. Now youmight think that doesn’t mean much, but bear with me here. I have hardto fit feet—very narrow with a narrower heel. Though you can’t findthis size anywhere anymore—at least where I buy shoes—my shoe size thenwas a Triple A width with a Five A heel. Really, really elegant, like aballerina’s foot, I like to think. But all this elegance comes at aprice.

It meant that my shoes--made with beautiful leather,impeccably detailed and sewn--never looked like my friend's shoes,which were much more common and could be bought at the local shoestore. This was indeed a trial by the time I was eleven. I wanted theshoes that all my friends had. When my friends were all wearing shoesthat resembled white ballerina slippers, I was wearing...somethingelse. A few years later, when everyone else was wearing shoes with"kitten heels," my heels were more stolid and thick, something thenknown as "Cuban" heels. Yuk, I thought. Another of life's torments justbecause, I would complain. Life isn't fair, why do I have these stupidfeet?

Shoe buying has never been easy for me. But a few weeksbefore Jane came for her visit, I had found a pair of sandals that fitme fine. Woven leather flat sandals with the strap right across theankle and a rubber sole. The heel was only a strap that could beadjusted, so I could adjust it to fit my narrow heel. The shoes wereItalian made by a company named Famolare. How many pairs of thatparticular style were sold in the United States that year? I do notknow. On the Famolare website today it says that their shoes are madein “very small quantity.”

Jane arrived with the exact sameFamolares, size 38 in the European sizing the company used. I wasamazed, to put it mildly, and remembered that when Florence Fisherfirst heard how her mother had painted her apartment--turquoise withlavender trim--she was struck because those were the same colors thatshe, Florence, had painted her living room.

Florence and hermother's favorite colors, the matching shoes Jane and I had were eachone of those coincidences that are either meaningless or meaningful,depending on your point of view. Egads, isn’t this weird? I said toJane, that you should have the exact same shoe as I have?

Hmmm, she said. She did not sound impressed. I found out later she was doing her teenage best to act un-impressed.

Despiteher coolness, we kept discovering how we shared more than shoes. Likeme, she had a 24-inch waistline (that was then) and fine oily mousyblonde/brown hair that is truly one of life’s little tragedies. Neitherof us could carry a tune for more than two or three notes, or snap ourfingers on our left hands. We often laced our language with irony,preferred tailored clothes, especially duds that resembled men’ssuiting. In fact, we were extremely comfortable in each other'sclothes. In photographs we are often shown standing the same way, oneleg crossed at an angle just so in front of the other. She got her bighead size from Brian, she had my hazel-green eyes, a combination jawbut not too far off mine, as far as I could tell, his nose (thank god),my eyebrows. If you saw us together, you would assume we were a set:mother and daughter.

One one day that summer, after she hadwalked up the stairs, my husband Tony remarked to her: “You come up thestairs just like Lorraine.”

"When I heard that, I knew I was home," Jane would tell me years later about Tony's offhand comment.

Forwhat she had heard many times from her adoptive father was, "Jane,can’t you walk quieter?" as she went up or down the stairs at theirsplit level house. Well, no, she really couldn’t without a great dealof effort. Her dad ought to hear my niece clomp up the stairs. WeDuskys could be mistook for a herd of small elephants. What is anaccepted family trait, not particularly elegant, at my house had beenan annoyance to the family she was growing up in.

Family traits.We who have grown up among our own kind can not quite fathom what it’slike to be in a life where shared traits are few and far between. Themore social scientists learn about various characteristics, the lessthey seem to be related to environmental factors.

What traitsare hard-wired? They cluster into five basic factors in every culturethat has been studied, from Britain to Korea, Ethiopia to Japan, Chinato the Czech Republic: Extraversion, the extent to which a person isoutgoing, adventurous and sociable, or shy, silent, reclusive andcautious; neuroticism, the extent to which a person suffers fromanxiety, guilt, worry and resentment; agreeableness, the extent towhich a person is good-natured, cooperative and non-judgmental orirritable, suspicious and abrasive; conscientiousness, the extent towhich a person is responsible, persevering, self-disciplined, orundependable and quick to give up; and openness to experience, theextent to which a person is curious, imaginative, questioning andcreative, or conforming, unimaginative, predictable and uncomfortablewith novelty.

Although this says nothing about favorite colorsor same shoes, this sounds like a lot to me. Sounds like a wholepersonality contained therein. The latest studies do not find a strongcorrelation between adopted children and those of their adoptiveparents; in fact, writes social scientist Carol Tavris, “thecorrelation is weak to non-existent. This means that when childrenresemble their parents and grand parents temperamentally, it is becausethey share genes with these relatives, not experiences.”

Janeand I hadn’t been together, yet we were finding how much alike we were.For me, it was a constant source of amazement and pleasure. How muchwas evident apparently in my face. A couple of months after I’d metJane, someone I didn’t know well asked a mutual friend if I’d had aface lift or “something done.” He said I looked “different, younger.” Iwas 38 at the time. The woman he asked was a birth mother. She knewwhat was up.

Life was grand, and my daughter was asleep in theroom across the hall. Many many years later, Jane would point out to methe ways in which we were alike. Now she was delighted to find them; Ihad come to take them for granted, and I had not known she was keepingtrack.