While international adoption has always been a big part of my identity, until recently, it has not been a huge interest to me. There are several reasons to explain my historical apathy. For one thing, once I became a teenager, all I wanted to do was simply fit in. I didn’t want to be known as the “girl who was adopted,” even though it was pretty obvious to anyone who saw me with my adoptive family that I wasn’t their biological child. I wanted to keep my adoption story private and focus attention on my present, not my past. I certainly have never denied I was adopted, nor have I been made to feel ashamed about it, but for some reason, it is not something that has defined my “personal brand.”
Another reason I have shied away the topic is that in my adult life I have come across a surprisingly large number of international adoptees who are bitter about being adopted. They are hurt that their biological parents abandoned them and are insulted that the country of their birth sees them as a foreigner and not one of its own. As personal as the reasons may be for such feelings, they have never been my own sentiments and so for many years, I have intentionally distanced myself from the greater international adoptee world (particularly those who were, like me, adopted from Korea). While I recognize there are very good reasons for adoptees to feel this way, I didn’t want to be identified as someone who shared this perception and the negativity that permeated my conversations with those who did often put me on the defense, perhaps because I have been fortunate enough to be raised by a loving adoptive family so much to the point that whatever drove my birth mother to give me up for adoption doesn’t matter to me — I had decided long ago that life with the family I have now is a thousand times better than what fate would have dealt me had I stayed in Korea under what I presume would have been extremely difficult circumstances.
So while I can’t say what has caused this sudden interest in international adoption in general — not just as it pertains to my own personal history but also as it relates to the international adoption “movement” (for lack of a better word) overall — I can say that it has opened up to me a whole new world.
In an attempt to aid me in writing my soon-to-debut column, I have taken little steps toward becoming reacquainted with the international adoption scene, both past and present. I’ve started a short reading list of books I want to explore and have started following Twitter personalities who are dedicated to the issue of (international) adoption as I try to learn more about the many conversations taking place that are dedicated to the issue.
I see my magazine column, this blog and my new-found interest in the topic as uncharted territory for me. Already I’ve learned a lot about myself when researching the first story for my column, and I know I will learn more about others like me and the international adoption world overall as I continue to read, listen, ask questions and write.
I have no preconceptions, a lot of judgement (which I am trying to tame) and much curiosity about this new community I’m stepping into. And so the journey begins…