At times, it starts to feel like we as adoptees are hamsters in a wheel--thinking we're getting something done, but in reality getting nowhere, and in the meanwhile, folks are watching our every move sometimes for research, other times for what they call enrichment, and still other times for a form of educational entertainment, not unlike a reality TV show (and I don't make that comparison in a complimentary way).
But what can I say? In part, I open myself up to it--no one is forcing me to blog my heart out. I do it of my own accord. However, I will say that, of course, I did not choose to be an adoptee. And if I could un-choose it, I would.
It's this odd contradiction--I both despise and embrace being the hamster. Aka, I both despise and embrace being an adoptee. I despise it, because if I had a choice, I'd choose not to be an adoptee. But because I can't not be an adoptee, I choose to embrace it--that is, to a certain degree.
I embrace it as much as I'm willing to talk about it via blogs and the cyber world. But in "real life"--every day life outside of this cyber world adoption community--it's almost like my secret identity. I rarely talk about it to a soul, but I FEEL it every day, I DEAL with it every day.
Another part is that I simply don't want to be "the adoptee." I am an adoptee, but I am not ONLY an adoptee. And yet, there is this constant tension of wanting the hardship and pain of being an adoptee to be recognized and acknowledged and yet also wanting it to be forgotten.
I both want to belong and not belong. I feel dizzy even trying to explain the constant back and forth and tug-of-war that takes place in my mind.
As I wrote in an email to a fellow adoptee:
To add to that for me personally, I'm also still generally insecure, even at 36 years old--I still never assume or believe that anyone would even want to know me...So, a lot of the time I don't attempt to initiate, because I often feel that doing so would be adding a burden to that person's life...furthermore, I loathe being boxed in or identified with any one particular label, and yet I also long to "belong" in some small way...if I've figured anything out about my adoptee experience, it's that it's full of contradiction...
As I share thoughts and experiences like the ones above, I know I often direct them to adoptive parents. I think in part I do this, because I think they need to know--because, well, their kids are going to grow up to be adults who just might think critically about their adoptions one day.
I know AP's can feel a lot of pressure from adult adoptees, but adoptees feel just as much pressure, if not more, to perform and be a certain way. I figure the least an AP can do is give an ear to adult adoptees. Maybe that's presumptuous. But, hey, if it's not presumptuous to assume that a child would want to be removed from his or her birth country and people to live in a foreign country among foreign people with a set of strangers...
...Not that one presumption justifies another--exactly, I think you get my point...
But setting aside AP's and other adoption community members, really I wish your every day person would listen. I wish the every person I encountered could read adult adoptee blogs so that conversations like the following didn't feel so laborious and uncomfortable:
"Is your mom Korean?"
"Uh, well, no, yes, I mean [oh crap, here we go], uh, [awkward smile] I'm adopted [inward rolling of my eyes at myself for still fumbling and not knowing how to handle this question]."
"Yeah, but I reunited with my Korean family two years ago--"
"Oh. But your adoptive parents are your REAL parents, RIGHT?"
"Oh, right, yes, of course [churning, sinking feeling in my gut]. I mean, well, I see it as I have four parents, or well, six or seven if you count all my in-laws, but really it's very complicated, it's hard, it has been quite a journey--[cut myself off, I'm such an idiot, why do I even bother?]"
Chances are, though, even if your average person was to read this, he or she might still shrug shoulders and say, "Huh?"
But I guess it would be the effort and thought that would count for something--comprehension would be like the cherry on top...or really, maybe more accurately, it would be like finally getting to eat my spaghetti and sauce with a fork in my hands instead of with my mouth while my hands are bound behind my back. That's messy and hard to do--you get up from the table even hungrier and more frustrated than when you began...