We all think of different things to be thankful for when thanksgiving comes around. What came to my mind this year? If I’m thankful for being adopted. I’m not sure why it was the first topic to pop up. Let’s just say, I’m extremely ambivalent on my being adopted.
I came to America in August of 1991, and have lived in little ol’ Rhody for all twenty two years of my life. Adoption was an issue for me growing up. I knew my birth mom gave me up so that I would have a better life, but I couldn’t put my finger around it. I didn’t want to believe it. I hated her. I wanted to find her and tell her how much I hated her. I always knew I looked different from my parents (who are Caucasian) but wasn’t quite aware of judgements made, until fourth grade. My mom had come into my school one day for show and tell. My classmate asked my mom why she didn’t look like me. That comment wasn’t even close to what I’d encounter in the years to come.
I’ve always dealt with racial comments/slurs. In middle and high school, kids would point out how my eyes were different than theirs. In sports, the other team would label me as “chink.” At first I took these comments personally, but as the years went on I began to make fun of myself. I felt comfortable doing so because it made other’s laugh. It’s pathetic I had to feel that way, but the more I did it the more I began to feel accepted and “white.”
Sophomore year, my English teacher felt comfortable enough around me to tell another student he, “hated Asians, especially Wendy.” This all happened when we were watching a film on different poets, and he fast forwarded an Asian poet. My classmate asked why he was skipping this particular poet. To my surprise, and the class, that was what my teacher responded with. I laughed it off as the class stared at me, but I really felt angry, sad, embarrassed, and defenseless.
I went through a phase of blaming my parents for all of my problems. Pshhh … What teen doesn’t? But mine keyed in on being adopted. I would scold my parents for adopting me. I believed that if I was still with my birth mom, I’d have no troubles or worries in my life. No matter how much I seemed to hate my parents, I couldn’t break off. I had to go through a lot, but little did I realize it wasn’t my parents…IT WAS ME!
I needed to be comfortable and proud that I was adopted. I needed to embrace that I am an Asian-American adoptee and no matter how much I hated it, it was going to stay that way. I also had to accept that I would deal with abandonment issues and that that was my attachment to my parents, and others who came into my life.
Today, I can honestly say I love being an Asian American. I mean, I am somewhat of an attention-whore, so why not have something to brag about? I don’t hate my birth mom, and would rather not find her. She gave me up so I could have a better life. My family today is my family today, and that’s all that I need. My mom is my only mom, my dad my only dad, and my brother my only brother. Unconditional love trumps all.
So am I thankful for being adopted? Yes. Why am I ambivalent on my being adopted? Because I wish I could just let people easily leave my life. I feel I have a harder time with people “leaving” because I was technically abandoned at birth. But fuck it, I’ll get over it ;-).
Happy Thanksgiving my dudes!