Outting an Adoptee

19 Feb

My paternal grandmother was sitting at my Great Aunt’s funeral holding a cane. And I looked over at her and thought, “Oh no, here it comes.” In the sea of white and black people I stood out like a sore thumb. My cousins on that side of the family are African American. I have Jewish cousins too. If you lined up all my cousins in a row, you would absolutely insist there is no relation between us. But I don’t see family in terms of color or ethnicity. I see a wide range of humans in front of me with different strengths and weaknesses.

My grandmother, however, is not so secure with this notion.

The conversation went, “Who is that person over there?”
“Oh! She is adopted. My son and his wife adopted her.”

My resentment flares up at being termed adopted without validating the fact that I’m just her granddaughter.

But it’s that way with my teacher too. I was in a Korean classroom and the teacher used my adoption as leverage to the people visiting his classroom to assess the class. I stubbornly refused to let him out me. He did anyways, totally oblivious to the fact that I was trying to send him hints that this was not OK.

The point of this is that adoptee is not WHO I am, it’s an aspect of some label that was given to me. I want to be known as human first. Ask not where I come from, ask not what I am, because my answer will be the same as yours. I come from Earth and I am human. Homo sapiens sapiens *Just* like you. Ask me how I define myself. What are your hobbies? What are your interests? How is it going with your job? And then through the course of conversation you’ll figure out that I’m adopted and where I come from. Engage the human inside of me first and once you find out my whats, please don’t out me as an adoptee, because that just shows that despite all my efforts you are still caught up in the labels that I can’t make or help being.

I have so many talents and interests that you should have picked up from reading so far, are you really going to say that I’m difficult to figure out and the only label you could ever give me was an adoptee? Let others judge me solely on that label and all of the stereotypes that come with it, or are you going to let me define my humanity for myself and others? Please say you’ll do the latter. Because I really think that adoptees no matter what country they are from have a wide range of interests and stories. And I am one among them.

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