Tell people that you plan to adopt, and you'll get a huge variety of opinion, whether you want it or not. Some really helpful pieces of advice from people who actually know, and some slightly less welcome information about how adopted children will ruin your life and turn out just like their "real" parents and never be grateful (I'm not asking for their gratitude). And some well-meaning but whittery praisey phrases about how all they need is love and aren't you wonderful for doing it.*
It's the old nature/nurture debate. Either these hypothetical adopted children will take after their birth parents (who must, in the eyes of many people who have never met them, be strangely evil monsters if they aren't parenting all the children born to them), or else they'll instantly manage to switch off their past and become the child you the parent shape.
And there's just enough truth in each cliche to keep them both alive. And of course adopted children and adoptive parents will grow to resemble each other, taking on family expressions and habits and of course all children will bring their own personal quirks into the family, some shaped from early experiences and some from genetics and some from just being individuals.
But, today, I discovered that the Nature side of things has had far more effect in Little Fish than I had ever previously realised. I know quite a bit about her life before she came to me; it's fairly intimately chronicled, and not my story to tell on here. But she's been surrounded by loving arms from very early on, and although we keep in contact with her foster carers, she does not appear to remember living with them at all.
Tonight though, something happened which brought it home to me that she is not and never will be my genetic offspring. Tonight, I gave her her tea. And she ate nearly everything on her plate. And then she handed me the pieces of Toblerone I'd put on the side, and politely asked me if she could have an orange instead.
I'm not sure I'll ever recover.
*Question, if the only thing any adopted child needs in order to turn out to be a well-rounded human being is love, why don't more people - who have infinite capacity for love - adopt?