Not flesh of my flesh, or bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own. Never forget for a single minute, you didn’t grow under my heart, but in it.
I always loved this quote. Thanks for reminding me, @mylifeasanadoptee.
I have had an interesting mental ride over the past two days. In efforts to find more adoptees that are going on this journey with me, I revisited the Korean American Adoptees Facebook group that I am a member of, and tried to find others who are going as well. (Haven’t found one.) There are so many interesting dynamics going on in this group. I find that many are negative and embittered about the lives they’ve had up to this point, and have traced it back, often, to being adopted in the first place. Additionally, many hold resentment for their birthparents, feel like there are things missing in their lives from not knowing certain information, and various other things. This has been an eye opening, but also very toxic experience, being exposed to these types of people.
I believe my personal experiences have all been affected by how I was raised and the faith and hope that I have found in Jesus. I guess I will share a little bit of my history to try and explain where I’m coming from. I have lived in many places, all predominately white. I went to a high school in a school district composed of 89% Caucasian population. I have been to Heritage Camps all my life, and traveled to Korea 3 times (this summer will be my 4th!). My family experienced divorce and rebuilding. My best friends and boyfriend are white. I struggle with topics having to do with race (Apparently I have unique views on the idea of “colorblindness” and racial identity). I view myself as living under “white privilege” as a whole. I probably judge foreign students at my university too much. I only had a few experiences of insensitivity or ignorance (some people may label “prejudice” or “racism”) in my childhood from others (I am noticing this is rare…).
And I absolutely love my life. I would not ever change a single thing about the way things have panned out in my life; I am blessed beyond belief. Never have I felt like I didn’t “fit in” anywhere, as so many people claim. If you are seeking to “fit in” with certain people based only on your race, then you are shortsighted. My friends just happen to all be Caucasian. Friends are made by the people you gravitate toward and who gravitates towards you because of your personality and character, not because of what you look like. Sure, I may not “fit in” with second generation Koreans who were raised in a Korean household, but it’s not my desire to fit in there (Although this has been interesting to come to terms with, and many still struggle with this and still seek approval of “real” Koreans). There aren’t any promises of compatibility that come with the color of your skin.
I found that most people use the phrase “my adoptive family/parents” in that group a lot. You mean, your parents? The ones that raised you? Oh yeah, them. Those that have had rough life experiences with their families have basically said: “My life has been really hard, and I’m adopted. Therefore, my life must have been hard because I was adopted.” And this is a FALLACY. Divorce, abuse, poor choices made: these things can happen to everyone, whether you’re adopted or not. Poor choices, at least, DO happen to everyone. Bad things happen in biological families, bad things happen in adoptive families. There is no difference. In cases of abuse, it seems to be a direct link: adopted into bad family=being hurt, and it’s easy to connect the dots — if you hadn’t been adopted, bad things wouldn’t have happened to you. However, if those same parents would have had biological children, the same thing most likely would have happened to them. It doesn’t matter whether you’re adopted or not. Bad things can and will happen to everyone in this world. Period. Just because my parents got divorced, doesn’t mean I think I got adopted into a bad, or undesirable family. Not in the least bit. This thinking stems from self-centeredness on the adoptee’s part, and failure to see the bigger picture of life, interaction and purpose. It is not only your decisions that make up your life, it’s largely in the hands of others, and those parts of your life are just simply out of your control and has nothing to do with who you are, but who the other people are.
The fact that they also resent their birthparents for various things, (such as giving them up while there were other children that they kept, leaving them on a doorstep so they have no family record and no real name, etc.) is also a new idea to me. In my opinion: THEY GAVE YOU THE GIFT OF LIFE, FOR GOODNESS SAKE. There were two other options that I’m sure would have been easier way out for them: Killing you. Either before or after you were born. (Guess you know my stance on abortion now…ha). The fact they didn’t do that proves they had some sort of moral backbone, and wanted what’s best for you, and attempted to give you the best life possible, whether that meant with them or with someone else. My birthmother is one of the bravest people I could ever dream of, for carrying me as long as she could in secret, and giving me an opportunity for a better life than she could give me.
And lastly (yeah I guess I’m done with my rant for now), I am seeing that many people feel empty without information (ie, birthparent names/info, meeting parents, birthplace, etc.) One thing that I have never felt before was emptiness. In high school, I wrote a memoir about going to Korea and finding out the names of my birthparents. I noted that it had never been a NEED, but something that would be very cool to have the opportunity to know. I described my life as an incomplete puzzle. Everything is its own piece, but is always adding on to a bigger picture, and my life is “full” at all times, and with new information just adds another piece to the puzzle, where I don’t know what the final product will look like, or how big it will be. My agency has sent a telegram to my mother, asking her to make contact with them. She has not replied back. Although this is an exciting step, my life will not be any less complete in the event that I never meet her, but if I do, it will just be that much MORE full. I am experiencing FULL LIFE every single day. The questions I have about my family history do not hinder the development of my identity as a person, and a lot of people seem to get hung up at that point. They feel like part of them is “missing” without that knowledge. I don’t know if that puzzle thing makes sense. It makes sense in my head.
My identity is found in:
- Whom I was made for, not from.
- The love from my family.
- The love from my friends.
- My character and personality.
- What I do and why I do it.
Therefore, my identity is: (feel free to steal it 😉 )
I am Hillary. I am a lover of all people, and of Jesus, for whom I was made to glorify. I love every single family I am connected to, and I am a proud to be a Stuart, a Boone, a Ford, an Lim (Korean surname, pronounced EE-m…hence the awkward “an”), a Tri-Delta. I am an advice giver, sister, student, listener, and a friend. I am funny, professional, passionate, friendly, happy. I give my time to, and am proud to be involved in, my major, and various campus organizations. I am a student of the world, always eager to learn.
Being American, Korean, and adopted are attributes I carry, but I am not defined by these things alone. They contribute to what I am, but do not change or determine who I am, and who I want to be.
Maybe I have this stance because I don’t really identify with any specific race. (oh racial identity, there you are again). I don’t struggle with my racial identity. Because I don’t find it necessary (for me) to have one. This is my identity instead. But maybe that’s the way it should be. People are people, yo.
I’ll be taking a break from reading those posts for awhile. They break my heart, and I do not comprehend the logic. (And then I write a post like this.) I get worked up. But not enough people write about the happiness in their lives as adoptees in wonderful homes. I needed to brighten the mood! 🙂 I hope this makes adoptive parents feel better, and give them hope that their children won’t hate them when they get older, and they’ll turn out….normal. (Ask my mom. I’m probably not that normal.)