Every day adoption

I think about adoption every day. It’s not like I’m dwelling on it. But, it’s a fact of my life and a part of my identity now. When I became an adoptive aunt by through my husband’s family years back, I became much more sensitive to adoption issues. And now being an adoptive parent, it’s become another filter to my worldview. Just like my reality as a working mom, as an Asian American woman, and other pieces of my identity that confront daily life, I can’t help but see adoption in so many things around me.

Adam Pertman's Adoption NationFor one, I’ve got Adoption Nation by Adam Pertman as my bedtime reading. (I’m about halfway through. Once I’m finished I’ll write more about the book. I have some thoughts, but already definitely consider it a ‘must read.’) Each night I close the book, shut my eyes and I’m left with some sort of thought provoked about the world of adoption or how adoption has impacted society.

And as Pertman notes in his book, many, many people are somehow touched by adoption in this country:

Extrapolation from U.S.Census data, we can guesstimate that there are at least 7 million adopted children and adults in the United States today; add in birth parents, adoptive parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces, and the number of people directed connected to adoption soars into the tens of millions.

Aside from my choice to think specifically about adoption, this week the topic of adoption has come up in my media consumption.

My friend Ed posted this touching story on Facebook about a gay couple who adopted a baby they literally found in a subway station, and then eventually… actually I don’t want to spoil the story so go read the post. And have some tissues on hand. Ed is gay man with a long time partner. As far as I know (and as far as he’s let on in his status updates) he has no intention of having a child. My point here is that Ed’s interest in the story (I’m guessing) was his identifying with the gay couple and the sheer drama of the story. And there just happened to be an adoption angle.

The other adoption connections this week are about adoptees from Korea.

Kristen Kish

The first happened to be on the finale of one of my favorite shows, Top Chef. Again, I won’t spoil it in case you haven’t watched the episode. Kristen, one of the bad ass finalists (both awesome women chefs, yeehah!), was adopted at age 4 from Korea. In a touching “confessional” moment, Kristen talks about wanting to visit Korea if she wins Top Chef (the winner receives $125,000):

“The one thing I do miss is seeing two people that look like me… I just need to see where I came from.”

The other adoptee moment came when I read my neighborhood paper, the Hollywood Star News. It’s a feel-good story from the nearby Northeast Community Center, about a young man who grew up going to the center named Henry Meece. Meece, a developmentally disabled adult, competed as a snowboarder in the Special Olympics World Games which took place in South Korea. It just so happens Meece was born in Seoul, Korea and then adopted at six months by a Portland couple. A sweet story.

I recognize that I am more aware of adoption stories now that I’m an adoptive mom, but it does seem true – adoptive families are everywhere! And they each have such a unique and complicated story.

One thing I’ll be more on the hunt for, though, are stories that reveal the complexities of adoptions with some measure of openness. Do you know of articles, novels, tv programs, movies that show open adoption stories? If so, please share in the comments, so I can try and check it out.

One of the main lenses Pertman’s ‘Adoption Nation’ explores is the revolutionary change in adoptions caused by the opening of adoptions. A study from the Donaldson Adoption Institute says that the vast majority of adoptions today have some level of openness. Yet my experience has been that people are still generally very uncomfortable with the idea. I’ll tackle some of that topic in a future post.

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2 thoughts on “Every day adoption

  1. Your daughter might already watch this, but Dinosaur Train on PBS Kids has an adoption storyline. Buddy the T-Rex was adopted by a Pteranodon family. The Pteranodons don’t know his birthfamily, but they help him search for his species and befriend a T-Rex family who help Buddy understand himself. Like all adoptees, Buddy loves his family and is curious about his birthfamily (species). His parents support him, and his sister expresses typical adoptive family fears that Buddy will want to leave their family. A few dinosaurs express surprise that Buddy lives with Pteranodons and doesn’t want to move to Rexville, but Buddy is secure in his identity and his family and sees it as “normal”. I think it’s a very healthy, realistic and positive view of adoption for young children, and I know it’s normalized adoption for both my 5yo son and many of his peers. Bonus that they never say “real”!

    • I’ll definitely keep that episode in mind when she’s a little older. I’ve watched a little of Dinosaur Train and it’s very sweet. Would love more advice for sharing birth/adoption stories with toddlers!

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