gallery Dear Adoption, I Want Center Stage Back

 

IMG_6835

Dear Adoption, I Want Center Stage Back

I’m Mike. I was adopted as an infant. I have told my happy adoption story over and over for most of my life. I’ve performed on command as the all star of my family. I’ve said, “I’m grateful” at all the right cues. I have shouldered the weight of being all my parents hoped for and all society needed me to be in order to fulfill my role as adopted child.

Me and my life story was a main topic at dinner parties, birthday parties, shopping malls, in 7-11’s, and at my school.

On command, I smiled the special smile; the one that forced a dimple on my left cheek to appear and made my eyes even more squinty to enhance that I was Asian. The rest of the time I tried like hell to bulge my eyes into an almond shape like the rest of my family, friends, and city.

When friends and strangers told me how lucky I was and how I must be so grateful to be raised by such good, unselfish parents, I beamed at them with wholesome gratitude and inferiority.

I took center stage like a professional adoptee. Damn. I was good.

And you liked me there, Adoption. You gladly shone your spotlight on me and my ability to be an Asian orphan when it brought glory to your name and to the good, white people who rescued me.

On my 27th birthday it happened. Small amounts of buried grief and loss began trickling out of me until eventually a tsunami of sadness and ingratitude knocked me on my ass.

Later, I learned the term for what happened to me was “coming out of the fog”.

You can call it that of you want. Maybe I just stopped giving a shit?

I found myself responding in frustration and truth when my adoption story was brought up. Sometimes people literally gasped.

I have never, will never speak ill of my adoptive family, but I also will not ignore my grief. They were not my saviors and I was not their rescue dog.

It’s pretty awful that everyone around me celebrated major losses in my life and then didn’t have any regard for me: the person who actually lost a family, a culture, and an identity. Instead, they ignored the sad parts and praised my family for taking me in.

Everyone wanted to hear my story in the middle of the store when I showed you my dimple, my Asian eyes, and praised adoption. Now, they shake their heads when I don’t declare gratitude as my permanent state of mind. Now, they have the nerve to be offended.

I was center stage when I agreed that my parents were saints who rescued me from certain death (or as I like to more accurately call it now, “a different life”).

I want center stage back. Give me your ears now. Listen to me now. You try staying afloat when the waves keep crashing in order to drown and quiet.

You gave me center stage when I was the happy adoptee and I’ve decided I want it back. I’m going to take it back with my fellow adoptees and until I do, you may have the back of me: no dimple, no eyes, not anymore.

Mike was born in South Korea in the mid eighties and adopted when he was about 1 year old. He is an entrepreneur living in San Diego with his wife and daughter. In his free time he surfs and schools people on adoption and his experience as an adoptee. 

21 comments

  1. Thank you for this letter Mike. As an involved, white, transracial adoptive mom, I have tried to raise awareness among my fellow parents; I have had little success. I am hopeful that amazing humans such as you (and my daughter) will be more successful. All I can say is what i have always told my daughter: you are NOT lucky. You were born unlucky to a family that could not raise you. By getting what is every baby’s birthright – a permanent loving family – you came closer to being back at square one, but sadly not quite.

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on Parents Rights Blog and commented:
    When friends and strangers told me how lucky I was and how I must be so grateful to be raised by such good, unselfish parents, I beamed at them with wholesome gratitude and inferiority.

    I took center stage like a professional adoptee. Damn. I was good.

    And you liked me there, Adoption. You gladly shone your spotlight on me and my ability to be an Asian orphan when it brought glory to your name and to the good, white people who rescued me.

    Like

  3. As an adoptee of many decades, I can relate to this narrative in part, but not in total. The reason I cannot relate totally lies in the generational era and the great difference of perspective and experiences. The conclusion after my 7 decades of life is that, like DNA which proves we are all 99.5-99.99% the same (leaving only 0.5 to 0.99 % unique to each individual), adoptees suffer the same traumas, the same response to separation of mother, siblings, family, ancestors, etc. whether so-called international or domestic adoptions took place.

    Science via DNA has rightfully concluded that race and ethnicity are myths, not facts, and that the same genes which protect my skin from absorbing harmful U-VA rays are the same that protect another a million miles away from where I may be. The closer to the sun one is produces melanin response to increase, just as further distance produces the opposite response. Only an albino is ‘white’, the rest of us have various shades and tones to our skin according to our own unique genomes and in relationship to our distances from the sun’s rays.

    Because I was abandoned and adopted against my will and without either my voluntary inclusion in the processes or my consent, I was severed from not only my siblings and parents, I lost my heritages of at least five cultures, at least ten languages, two religions, and the rest of my own identity, the latter eradicated-or so the state thought- my rights to know who I was and from whence I came, not to mention denial of access to information regarding my antecedents, documentation, adoption and DSS files, medical files, and the OBC. We are all immigrants and migrants, and some of us are not even 100% human although we are hominins.

    I cannot relate to playing the clown at a circus to the tune of the ringmaster/adopters/society, nor can I relate to the docility of others or their acceptance of circumstances and willingness of some to play the ‘ adoptee well-served by his/her adopters’ charade’. And I abhor the act of adoptee as forever victim. As a child I was indeed victimized -by state, nation, courts, agencies, parents, adopters, educational institues, churches, and society. But as an adult I can no longer play the victim-and as a child fought back against all who denied me my right to know and to be ME, not to be the dimpled darling at someone’s dinner party to stoke the ego of adopters, courts, societies but to secure my rights and those of others.

    It is never simply about winning or loosing, but how we respond to our circumstances and those of others. We barely understand or even know about ourselves, and most of us will never know the circumstances of those who relinquished or abandoned us. None of us are the center of the universe. Just ask my ancestor Copernicus.

    Like

  4. I will rephrase: my daughter (and likely all adoptees) were born into “unlucky” situations. I am unaware of any adoption tale that does not begin in sadness and loss. Being adopted, especially into a family of a different race and culture, does not in itself make a person “lucky.”

    Like

  5. Thank you for sharing!
    I think it is great you are speaking your truth, although, sorry you’ve been treated this way.
    I believe we must keep telling our stories of adoption loss and grief until people listen.

    Like

  6. I have to disagree. “I want center stage back. Give me your ears now. Listen to me now.” – For what purpose? To tell the world that you grieve for a heritage you missed? A family whom was not capable or willing to take care of you? I fell like you are angry at the world because you were adopted by white parents. In my opinion that seems to be the core of your argument. At 26 is there anything stopping you from reclaiming your heritage? Your heritage as you so plainly put it with the almond eyes was not a secret. I’m in a fog about what you are truly upset about.

    Like

    • It’s not wrong for adoptees to be xpress grief, anger, confusion, etc even under the best of situations. Often antiquated laws stop us from reclaiming by full heritage. We can do aDNA test but it isn’t personalized like k contact with actual kin.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s