Dear Diary: #NationalAdoptionMonth
In TRUE STORY BRO
Collage by Andreya
For a long time being pro choice felt like being "Anti-my-own-existence".
Like many interracially adopted kids, I've had many a stupid comment and lingering stare when in public with my family. Intrusive and deeply personal questions are sadly the norm. I am black and my parents are white. I was adopted when I was 6 months old. Currently, I have no relationship with my birth parents, but I recently turned 18 so my records are now open should one or both of them try to reach out to me. I am lucky enough to know a little about them, but not all of us are so lucky. I think eventually I would like to try to contact them but I'm content with my life the way it is right now.
Probably the biggest misconception about adoption is that adoptive relatives don't feel like family. Often on TV and in real life people choose not to adopt because they're afraid the child won't "feel" like theirs. They don't think they can love them as much without that biological link. But that couldn't be further from the truth. That's why better representation of adoptive/non-biological families in the media is so important. TV Shows like "The Fosters" & "Switched at Birth" are changing the way adoption is perceived. (Both great shows if you haven't seen them).
The interracial aspect of my adoption definitely complicates my life a little. I've had black women stare and whisper before offering to do my hair, as if my parents or myself are incapable. I've had many black men ask me if I speak the language spoken in the country my birth parents are from. Sometimes they just start speaking it to me out of the blue. Many then proceed to scold me for being ignorant of my culture when I say no or say nothing and stare at them blankly. People inform me that white people aren't fit to raise me, that I need to be "careful and smart" around them. In high school, someone I thought of as a new friend started a conversation by saying:
"I would never adopt; adopted kids are so screwed up. They all have issues."
I don't always tell people I'm adopted straight away, (Why would I?) so she had no idea who she was talking to. I later found out through Facebook that she herself is adopted! That, while an intriguing plot twist, was a shocking form of self-hatred I had yet to witness.
I do sometimes give friends a heads up before they meet my family, though I know I shouldn't have to. It's just a preventative measure I sometimes find is necessary. My parents have been accused of stealing me before, so I'm not sure I can be too careful. Yeah. I'm sad to say that I have gotten used to it. Forcing a polite smile before finding literally any excuse to leave is what I've found works best.
My parents wanted me to have a sibling, so, after 6 years of waiting my little sister joined our family. She was adopted when she was about 2 1/2 months old. Our birth parents are from different countries but she is also black, so we often hear that we look alike. (We don't. Like, at all.) It's great to have someone so close to me who perfectly understands how weird people can be about our situation.
I'm so incredibly grateful to my parents for welcoming us into their family and for loving us as much as they do. Regardless of what anyone says they are my REAL parents who have been there for me through everything. I'm also very thankful that my birthmother chose to have me and put me up for adoption. I absolutely respect every woman's right to choose what's best for her and her body now, but I didn't always. For a long time being pro choice felt like being "Anti-my-own-existence". I know it was a difficult decision for her to make and go through with in so many ways and I literally owe her my life. Her sacrifices motivate me to make the most of the life I have been given.
One of the most difficult parts of being an interracial adoptee is how you identify and fit in with other people. Growing up in a predominantly white area I dealt with a lot of internalized racism. To be clear: despite the media and other kids explicitly telling me that my skin wasn't beautiful, I loved it. I just wanted all the advantages and privileges that seemed to come with being white, and in some ways I got them. I remember separating myself from the other black children at my school in my mind: "I'm not like them. Those are the bad, misbehaving black kids. I'm different from them". I had different mannerisms and spoke without a slight foreign accent or a touch of AAVE (African American Vernacular English). I thought I was better than those kids. That harmful frame of mind was so, so toxic. I just didn't believe that when people said racist things about black people that I was included in that group. I thought I was special, an exception to cruel rules that didn't even hold water to begin with.
Things got even more complicated as I aged. In early high school I started to embody the “white girl” stereotype involving yoga pants and Starbucks. I didn't think I was white but if those things were for white girls, then why did I like them? To this day it's difficult to feel like I belong anywhere at all. I've come to realize something though: I speak the way I speak and I like what I like. I'm a whole, deeply nuanced and often flawed person just getting to know herself and that's okay.
An adoptive, biracial family is my normal and I wouldn't want it any other way.