“‘Do you think his eyes will stay blue?’ My stepdaughter curiously asks me one day as we lay across my bed staring at her baby brother. ‘Oh, I definitely think he will keep them,’ I reply. ‘Do you think his hair will stay blonde or turn dark like Eli’s did?’ she inquires of me again. I tell her, ‘I sure hope so.’ And I mean it. I really do hope he keeps his blue eyes and blonde hair. Just like his sister.
You see, the way you look is important in a family and even more so in a blended family. Looks are powerful symbols of relatedness and belonging. Looks can make you feel like the insider or the outsider.
The day my husband and I welcomed our first baby into the world, my stepdaughter automatically became the ‘outsider.’ This wasn’t something we got to choose. It’s just the way it works. Biology. Her new baby brother was the child of both parents in the house and she wasn’t. He was a living, breathing symbol of our love and commitment and she wasn’t. He was with us 24/7 and she wasn’t. And the truth is, we all felt the impact of distinction, whether we consciously acknowledged it or not.
Born with a head full of dark hair, dark olive skin, and green eyes, our first son looks just like his daddy and I, who share such similar features, we often get asked if we are brother and sister. And yes, we are from Alabama. And no, we are not brother and sister or even third cousins, thank you very much.
Although none of this felt significant at the time, I began to realize it actually had more of an impact on our family than I could have ever imagined. You see, my stepdaughter has pale blonde hair, a fair complexion, and crystal blue eyes, which stuck out like a sore thumb when the four of us were together. Sometimes, strangers would even comment about it when we were out shopping or grabbing lunch. As the years went by, I noticed she would make subtle remarks about it too, and it was not until then I finally started to catch on.
See, to me, her appearance has always been beautiful and unique. But to her, it was also an often-painful reminder to herself and the world that she was in fact, the outsider in our blended family. Can I just pause for a second and say that breaks my heart into a million pieces?!
On June 4, 2019 at 4:10 a.m., we welcomed our second baby into this world. We didn’t find out what we were having, so this was quite the surprise! I prayed and believed so hard for a baby girl who would look like me. Instead, the doctor handed me a baby boy who looked like my stepdaughter!
When we got home from the hospital, I decided to look up the meaning of his name because I had honestly not put too much thought into the boy name we had picked out many months before. The name Jonathan means ‘gift of Yahweh (Given of God).’ When I read those words, it really hit me. When this baby was woven together in the secret place, God wasn’t just thinking about what I wanted. He was thinking about what we all needed.
He was thinking about the daddy whose heart longed to raise two boys the way his father did. He was thinking about the little boy who begged me every single day for a baby brother to play with because he was surrounded by girls. But most of all, I believe he was thinking about the tenderhearted little girl who didn’t need to lose her special place as the only daughter in our family.
In a moment, it all made sense to me and right then and there as hot tears rolled down my face, I thanked God for His provision. The gift of a constant reminder she is one of us. She always has and always will belong. We are family.
I thanked God for giving me a sweet baby boy, with crystal blue eyes and blonde hair. Just like his sister.
P.S. You should see how her eyes light up every time I tell her how much her baby brother looks like her. And you better believe I tell her every chance I get!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Rachel Dunne, the Spiritual Stepmom. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her website. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more from Rachel here:
SHARE this story on Facebook to let others know a community of support is available.