The Word "Adoption"
I came across a post on one of my friend’s social media wall about adoption. The post was a series of pictures of young girls holding up signs with phrases regarding adoption, such as “Is she your real sister?” and “Why don’t you look like your parents?” and the worst one being “You were adopted because your real parents didn’t love you.” In the pictures, the girls looked genuinely sad, as it was clearly a very vulnerable situation that they were expressing through photography. They looked like very upset elementary school girls in particular. After seeing those pictures, I couldn’t help but recall the times when that was me, in elementary school and carrying the burdens that such hurtful words can bring.
Personally, I was adopted from China at age one. My birthday is May 3, 1997, I was found at a police station and was brought to the United States by my loving parents that I live with to this day. When my parents first saw me, I couldn’t sit up by myself. By the time they left China after two weeks, I was holding crackers in my hands. From a very early age, I was told that I was born in my mommy’s heart instead of her belly. That’s about all I knew in regards to my baby years and it sounded wonderful and grand, or at least until I entered second grade. From there it all went downhill.
Much like in many classrooms of second graders, birthdays are highly recognized. The birthday student gets a paper crown with their name on it, maybe they get to be the line leader for the day, but essentially they were the center of attention for the day. I was so excited when it was my birthday, I always brought cupcakes in for my class. As the years went on, some questions came up about what someone’s day of birth actually entailed. I was hit with questions such as “What time of day were you born?” and “What hospital were you born at?” When you’re a second grader, still trying to figure out the ropes of school and questions like that are thrown at you, you would probably freeze and not know what to say. I said I was adopted and born in China.
In my recollection, the word “adoption” threw everyone in my class off. At recess, kids would say those very lines that I had mentioned before, but the one that stuck with me would have to be: “You were adopted because your parents didn’t love you.” How a second grader could come up with such words is still a mystery to me, but all I knew is that it hurt, a lot. I had always viewed my adoption as a good thing, and suddenly I was being told that the reasoning behind this wonderful event was become someone else didn’t love me.
It only got worse from those days, as I started to believe those words to be true. It was obvious that I didn’t look like my parents or extended family, which affected me greatly as I grew into my teenage years. I would look at my cousins with their lighter brown hair and quickly noticed that my hair was jet black. I felt so different.
At this point in my life, I see being different as a wonderful thing. But being different and feeling different are two different things. Being different is like showing the world that you aren’t like everyone else. That could have many pros and cons, depending upon your age and environment in which you may have grown up in. When you turn into a middle schooler, being different isn’t really looked at as a good thing. It was in fact commonly associated with being left out and just plain weird. However feeling different in those years is one of the worst feelings to feel. In addition to becoming actually left out of social cliques, but I started to question my self- worth. And worst of all, I began second guessing my existence.
More frequently, I was comparing myself to my cousins and everyone at my school in appearance, then it slowly began to overlap with many aspects of my life. To name one in particular, grades in school was definitely a big one for me. Apparently when you grow up Asian, you are expected to grow up with all A’s and be good at everything. Or at least that’s what the stereotypes tell us. To my dismay, I got a few B’s mixed in there and I had to make a valiant effort to become good at anything. I wasn’t the typical image of the “Perfect Asian”.
This fact bothered me for a very long time. However now, I realized that there is literally no such thing as perfect and there is no such thing as normal and the people that try to convince you otherwise are quite wrong. I stink at math and have minimal knowledge on how to use technology at an advanced level. But I am also a good dancer, I’ve been told that I’m a good writer and above all, I’m a good friend. Those stereotypes that society creates does not define who I am and they do not define who you are.
My thought process became more intricate as I grew up, and the feeling of being different became more noticeable to me in my everyday life. I began wondering why I was even born if the people that gave birth to me didn’t love me. Between those newfound thoughts and feelings in addition to the normal teen angst thing, I think that was the starting point of my mental health issues.
In short, the words that people say to you stick to you and come back to you later on in life. I hope, reader, that you use your power of words for good; the only words that will stick with you more than the ones said to you are the negative ones that you said to others. You hear in preschool “Treat others how you want to be treated.” Contrary to popular belief, this golden rule holds to be the truth, and as we grow older and experience life more, we see the truth in such a simple statement that we heard when we were five. Please be kind with your words, they can impact someone’s life for a very long time, longer than you know. And the words you say to others speaks volumes as to who you are as a person.