Being outspoken about my adoption is pretty new. For a while, I pushed it to the back of my mind. Growing up, It wasn’t something I could avoid.
When we were out, strangers would see our family and could not resist asking questions. My dad wouldn’t waste an opportunity to whip out his wallet, show off our school pictures, and tell them about our adoptions. His eyes would tear up every time he spoke about us. He was a proud father, but sometimes I wanted to be able to go about my life unnoticed. I wanted to fly under the radar and be normal like everyone else. Adoption, especially transracial adoption, can sometimes put your family under the microscope. People just want to know things. They want to ask questions. I understand the curiosity, and if the roles were reversed, I’d probably ask questions too. But I now know what it’s like to be on the other end of the questions.
When I left Canada to attend college in Florida, I never brought my adoption up to people I met. I eventually told just a few close friends, but no one else really knew. I welcomed the anonymity and the chance to be “normal.” Living in Florida, no one assumed I was adopted or asked where I was from. I remember telling my sister that I didn’t tell some of my co-workers that I was adopted for several years. I remember her being incredulous, “You really didn't say anything for three years?” she laughed. It seemed funny to her because it was such a part of our growing up. We had an everyday reminder that were different from everyone else.When I casually mentioned it to my co-workers during a conversation about our childhoods, they had questions, but I didn't mind. After that conversation, I realized that I felt okay talking about it. Towards the end of that year, I decided to start a blog about adoption. At first it was strange to talk about my adoption so publicly, because for a long time I didn’t want anything to do with it. For several years, I took it off like a coat and hung it in the back of my closet. But as a grew older, I was ready to wear it again. My adoption story is me, and I’m no longer interested in hiding it.
I now see my adoption story as a way to connect with others. For a year, I shared my stories and other adoption stories on thosefourlittlewords.com, and I found that I wasn’t alone in my feelings. By putting my adoption out there, I was able to help others struggling with their feelings of loss or identity. But I believe in timing. Today I’m married with two children, which has helped me become more confident in who I am. I have my own family, and I’ve put down roots, which has contributed to my sense of security. I am no longer just an adoptee, but a wife and mother. Many adoptees are excited to share their adoption stories, while others are not, and I completely understand both sides. It’s not fair for children to have to explain anything to strangers, and it’s not fair for parents to put their children on the spot. Children should not have to be ambassadors for adoption. Maybe one day they will be outspoken about their adoption. Maybe they won’t. But it should always be their choice.
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