"November is National Adoption month, a month set aside to raise awareness about the adoption of children and youth from foster care." (Description borrowed from the Child Welfare Information Gateway website)
I am an international adoptee, as are my three siblings. My sister and I were adopted from Korea and my two brothers from India. We were adopted by our incredible parents and had an awesome childhood growing up in the midwest. To our knowledge, we were all 'products' of orphanages overseas, so although we were not in foster care (as is the topic of National Adoption Month), I felt compelled to write today about my experience with adoption in general.
I have never been overly interested in my past until last spring when I asked my parents for my adoption records. There was something about being pregnant with my first child and realizing that I didn't know anything about my genetics or what my early months were like. The information in the file was very interesting. After all these years, it was kind of neat to know little things:
- I was 12 lbs and listed in fair health when abandoned at the orphanage
- When my diaper was wet or I was scolded (even in a joking manner), I 'fretted'
- I was in a crib of sorts with 6 (whoa, six!) other babies
- A note in the summary/recommendations: "Hope she can be taken care of with deep love"
My siblings and I were about as 'American' as they come. I remember being offended growing up when one of my dad's friends referred to us as "The Tribe". Or amused when a lady at church asked my parents "when they were going to tell us that we were adopted". Really?! Like our differing skin color wasn't clue enough? Hilarious.
In any case, my parents were always open about our adoption and facilitated ways for us to learn more about our cultures. I have many happy memories of times visiting the Festival of Nations in St. Paul, MN. FON was held at a huge convention center and featured all kinds of displays, music/dance concerts and food booths from many countries. We were able to try Korean food, as well as Indian. (Although I'd venture to say we all gravitated to the WI cheese curds!) I'd like to return someday, it was a jolly good time.
One summer, my brother and I even attended a Korean Culture Camp at the Minnehaha Academy. (Yes, me and my Indian brother.) One of the things I remember most was: damn, there were a lot of Koreans there! Growing up in our small town, my siblings and I were in the relative minority, so suddenly being surrounded by Koreans! Everywhere! was a new concept. We took classes in language and dance and ate Korean meals. (Much to the chagrin of my husband, to this day I do NOT like kimchi.)
Back to us being 'Americanized', I remember feeling really out of place at the camp. Perhaps this was because many kids attended summer after summer and already knew a bulk of everyone in their age groups. It just felt 'clique-ish' and frankly, I thought "What's the big fat hairy deal?" My point being though was that we were fortunate that our parents gave us the opportunities to learn more about our cultures. The sky was the limit as far as they were concerned.
And as for the hopes of my "being taken care of with deep love", heck yeah. Couldn't ask for better parents! I hope that every child, be it in the foster system or orphanages (here and overseas) can be as fortunate as my siblings and I were- to be adopted into a loving and nurturing family.
Thanks, Mom & Dad.