02 March 2014

What sucks about being adopted?

Here I go, down to the depths.

But before I take you there, I want to tell you that it isn’t that I am unhappy with my adoptive family. I am not angry at them or as some might say, “ungrateful.” Far from it. You can read about my mother, my father, my sister and my extended adoptive family in past blogs to understand the extent of our love.

Now, I want to tell you what sucks about being adopted.
  1. I have no birth certificate. —This frustrates me to no end. Every time, I needed proof of my birth, I had to dig out my naturalization papers (from age 5) and my adoption papers (from age 13 months). Well, that is not proof of my birth. Neither list my birth family or birthdate. This leads me to number 2.
  2. I have no true birthdate. — Yes, I have one, but it isn’t my true birthdate. It’s an estimate, a fabricated birthdate based on how I appeared on May, 24, 1968. 
  3. I have no birth story. — This never really bothered me until I had children of my own and realized how elemental it was to celebrate that moment when you take your first breath. I love telling my children’s birth stories, and they love hearing them. It bonds us all as a family because we were there at the creation of our family.
  4. I have no medical history. — This one is a true pain in my rump. With every move or change of health insurance, we must have that initial first meeting with the new doctor. It goes, “Any history of heart disease?” There, I stop them, “No history, I’m adopted.” This happens for me and my children, because obviously, the mother’s family medical history plays into the children’s health.
  5. I am not really Korean. — This one is complicated, and I have written about it numerous times. While my dad fed me kimchi, and my mother sewed hanbok sets for me, I really wasn’t exposed to the Korean culture in the way I would have been had I grown up in a Korean household. So, I find it irritating when I am viewed as Korean, spoken to in Korean, asked about my “real” Korean family, asked if I know Tae Kwondo … well, you get the picture.
  6. Reading or hearing the phrase, “like you’re adopted” (insert snarky, teen voice) — Language. Why must people joke with the word “adopted”? Listen, it isn’t funny, and I don’t appreciate being the butt of a joke. I am #notyourbadword. Adoptees are people with feelings, so refrain from using that word in jokes. Got it?
  7. Being referred to as an “adopted child/children” — Even as we grow into adults, we are referred to as “children.” This is especially prevalent in the media’s headlines and news stories. Someone please add this to the AP Stylebook!
  8. Being left out of the adoption conversation — Big one related to number 7. As adult adoptees, this perception of us as children seems to exclude us from the adoption dialogue. The fear that we might say or write words that might hurt adoptive parents is insulting. If an adoptive parent is hurt by the words of an adult adoptee, that parent is a grown up, remember? Adults should have the maturity to take someone else’s words, understand them and learn from them. 
Now that I have all that off my chest, carry on believing what you want of me, but understand that it might be an assumption by you, dear reader, given your history with adoption. Realize that every adoptee is different, has a unique narrative, and struggles with her own demons.


mothermade said...

Yes. to all of these!

Thank you

Anonymous said...

9. Being treated as the recipient of charity, as if the adoptee is a puppy being spared from being put down. As if adoptive parents are somehow engaging in an act of philanthropy, rather than receiving the blessing of a child to love and raise.

10. The inevitable expectations and comparisons to our adoptive parents, as if being a reflection of one’s parents is an essential function of belonging.

11. Adoptive family members to whom we will always be, literally, the bastard at the family reunion.