Mental Health

Mental health is super important and I believe it’s not discussed enough especially in the adoption community. It has taken a huge toll on many of us (some more than others) because we’ve been through so much already in our lives and has impacted us a tremendous amount. According to research , twelve to fourteen percent of adopted children in the United States between the ages of 8 and 18 are diagnosed with a mental health disorder each year, and adopted children are almost twice as likely as children brought up from their biological parents to suffer from mood disorders like anxiety, depression, and behavioral issues. I sometimes think to myself, “what if I wasn’t adopted, would I feel still feel all these emotions or would I feel them less?” Adoption has its highs and lows. The rollercoaster of emotions it has brought me over the years from sadness, frustration to anxiety + many more. I have struggled with anxiety since I was little and as time went on I it escalated then as I got older I was diagnosed with depression. I’m not going to go into major details, but I’ve overcome more than I ever thought. To this day I still struggle here and there with my thoughts and feelings but I am learning to manage it and I always remind myself with time it gets better. To all my adoptees remember you are loved and all your feelings are valid. ❤️

Every November: A time of grief and joy

November can be filled with loaded emotions for those in the adoption community.  An experience of joy, sorrow, loss, gain, blessing and pain. Included is shattering and healing. Calm and rage. Yes, as an adult adoptees I carry the weight of November. I sense a huge loss inside of me that so have carried along my life-journey. I used to feel ashamed of the feeling of being adopted. I would feel guilty that I felt a sense of loss by being adopted when many people told me that I should feel blessed for how much I gained. Guilt leads to shame. Shame leads to isolation. Then we turn off our feelings and tell everyone we are okay and that we tell ourselves that we’re better off alone. That’s a lie. We are better together. Birth parents. Foster parents. Adoptive parents. Foster parents. Adoption Advocates. We’re better together when united. It’s okay to feel what you feel. Let it out and start healing. It’s fine if we celebrate adoption, but let’s not isolate in the process of all of this. Adoption is many things.

Gotcha Day

In my family we celebrate an extra holiday every year. We call it my “Gotcha Day” because on Septemeber 1st, 1997 I met my parents for the first time. That day is the day we became a family. On this day I take a little bit of time to reflect on my adoption and the whole journey I’ve been through from the very beginning up to where I am now. My parents retell the story of the day they met me like it was yesterday. Tears typically run down my face and I feel many different emotions at once but then I remember the amazing outcome all of this had. I am forever grateful for all people who’ve I come across in my lifetime and all the incredible experiences I’ve had. Even though this day can be a bit sad I always remind myself; a loss for one family that gave me life and hope but a gain for the other one who gave me happiness and a forever home.

Connecting With Other Adoptees.

Having a connection with other adoptees has always been a huge part of my life. As I mentioned earlier in one of my previous posts it all started when I was young. My parents wanted to connect with other parents who were also on an adoption journey so when they went to adopt me, they decided to stay in touch with those who were in the same adoption group as I was. From coming together at the end of every summer for a few days (which meant going to different states) from when we were one years old to about the end of high school to staying in touch through Christmas cards, we did it all. The three days we’d spend together would fly by so fast that when time was over I would be sad, but I couldn’t wait till the next year. I think the best part of my adoption group for me is that we all became so close throughout those years – all girls and even the parents. We all felt like a huge family, I saw the girls as my “sisters” and their parents like another set of parents, they cared so much about me and the other girls so I felt surrounded by unconditional love. As we got older we don’t meet every summer like we used to but we still keep in touch through social media. As I’ve gotten older I have reached out to more Chinese Adoptees like myself from all over the U.S. and have formed some close friendships. At first I was scared to reach out and say “hi” but I have met some of the most amazing sweet people by making the first move. All it takes is a simple “hi” to start years of friendship with someone. Connecting with people hasn’t always been easy for me, but connecting with someone who you share something so big with is everything and I mean it. You just instantly click and it feels like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Just discussing our stories and what we have in common has made me felt so accepted. I have never really opened up fully about my adoption to anyone besides a few close friends. As time went by I opened up more to people about my journey. To my fellow adoptees out there reading this, don’t be afraid to share your story because you do have a voice and you are loved by many ❤️. I also want to say to those adoptees who I’ve encountered along the way and connected with, thank you for coming into my life whether it was a simple “hi” or a long deep conversation with me, you all touched my heart in a different way and I am forever blessed to have you by my side along the way. Never give up. We are in this together till the end.

Mother’s Day

This is a time I don’t like but I don’t dread it either. Mother’s Day has been pretty hard on me ever since I was in grade school. For those who aren’t adopted you may wonder why this is such a diffcult day for those adopted. I can’t speak for them but I can speak for myself. I feel as my biological mom, who was once in my life at one point was taken away from me. Not forced but by choice. I am not sure what the reason was and may never know as I have mentioned before. It made Mother’s Day hard for me because I had so many unanswered questions about her that came to me. I felt so alone at times like no one truly understand how I felt. On this day I tend to think about what was she like, how is she doing now, does she think about me or regret giving me up, plus way more. I remember one Mother’s Day I think I was in Middle School at the time and I wrote a letter to my biological mom and I sat there in my bedroom in silence for about ten minutes and cried. I was hurt, mad and sad all at once. I eventually gathered myself together and carried on with the rest of the day. As I have gotten older it’s gotten less overwhelming for me but it still stirs up many emotions for me. I tend to shy away from people on this day and want some space to think and collect my thoughts/feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I love my mom who I currently have and I am forever grateful for all she has done for me but there’s always going to be that part of me who feels empty. My biological mom may not be here with me physically to this day since I’m not sure where she is but I always carry her in my heart. ❤️

Birthday Blues

Have your ever imagined what it’s like to celebrate your birthday when you didn’t know exactly when or where you were born. Many of us are impacted as the days lead up to the month as well. Some adoptees have no issues with this day. For most people birthdays are a happy time, built on the foundation of being welcomed into the world. A time for cake, parties and balloons. Now consider an adoptee’s birthday. What does it represent for them? It represents the day of their greatest loss, the day they lost their birth mother and all that was familiar. It was not only their birthday, but their loss- day. Personally for me this day is somewhat hard for me- it definitely’s got me thinking. I think about all the information on that note my birth parents left me (was a note pinned on my clothes when found with my Chinese name & birthday). I will never know. I like to think it’s all real but part of me doesn’t believe it, I don’t know why. This day is overwhelming in a way because I feel a loss. The hardest part about my birthday is, the inescapable truth that adulthood is in fact a reality, is wondering how my birth mom copes with the day. A number of questions come to my head such as: Does she even remember my birthday? Does she celebrate it somehow? Does she wonder how much I change with every passing year? For me birthdays since I have been adopted have been fairly good and filled with unconditional love but there have been times when I just felt pure sadness, like something is missing. I am a year older and wiser as I continue to deal with my issues of being adopted. This is a process and if every seventeenth of April I shed a couple of tears, then so be it. I am accustomed to the feelings of loss, and my sense of early rejection. I accept them as part of who I am and do not need the “I am sorry” This underlying feeling of sadness is something I work on every day. I love and appreciate my adoptive family, but celebrating my birthday will always be a struggle. Finally, I would like to thank those who wish me happiness on my birthday, but please allow me to take a moment and grieve another year for not knowing who my birth mom and birth family are. Furthermore, if you know an adoptee who’s birthday is soon, wish them a happy birthday, celebrate with them if they choose to do it. But keep in mind not all adoptees are are okay. Adoption will always be attached to us. Sometimes like a ball or a chain, and other times like a badge we wear proudly.

Lost

I’m not just American. I’m Asian-American. It shouldn’t make a difference which phrase I use right? I’m still considered American. But no. There is a difference. Despite my Asian ethnicity, until more recently, I haven’t connected much with Asian heritage and culture. Attending predominantly white schools with lots of privledge as well as being surrounded by majority white people, I saw myself as one of them. I remember a day trip I took to Chinatown in Chicago (where I live) with my parents realizing all the people walking past by me and trying so hard not to stare at them because I was not used to seeing so many people that looked exactly like me. It was a weird feeling. I felt like in a way I did not belong because I do not speak the language (I only very little), I felt so out of place. I felt lost. At times I wanted to try to speak to them but I knew they would speak back to me and I would not know what to say and I would feel bad and sort of ashamed that I can’t speak my language of where I am from. I consider myself more American than Asian. My identity ought to be American-Asian instead Asian-American. Because I feel more American at heart, I grew up American. Yet, “where are you and your family from?” is always the first questions people ask when they meet me. I can’t avoid my Asian identity. I am currently in the proccess of learning Chinese it will take time but I hope by the end of the year I am able to write and speak it well. When I hang out with my non-Asian friends I don’t think much of it considering I am the only Asian in the group. Yet, when I am surrounded by my Asian friends, I become very aware of my race and the fact that we’re all asian. To this very day, I am still struggling to find my place in the world. Thus, the importance of the hyphen. I am not just one, I am both.

Q&A

Thank you to those who sent me questions for me to answer. It took a bit of time to answer some of these questions they weren’t easy (emotionally). All my answers are my own and I do not speak for other adoptees.

Q: Do you remember finding out that you were adopted?

A: My parents talked about it ever since I was little by showing me home videos and pictures of me.

Q: What is your adoptive family like?

A: My adoptive family is very loving and have always been supportive of me with everything I do since day one.

Q: Have you ever decided to track down your birth parents?

A: I have thought about it many times. I actually have spoken to Xixi who is a private birth family searcher in China. I have been emailing her back and forth about the whole process/details. I haven’t moved forward with it yet. It’s a lot of information I would need to gather and quite a bit of money for the search. There are many mixed emotions involved too with looking for them and many what-ifs. It’s not on the top of my to-do-list right now to track them but maybe one day.

Q: Could you imagine either ever giving up a child for adoption or adopting one.

A: No, honestly that would cause me too much pain to give up a child for adoption. I do see myself adopting a child but it would be an emotional process.

Q: Ever thought about going back to your original birth place?

A: Many times!

Q: How has being an adoptee impacted how you see your life?

A: Being an adoptee has impacted me the way I see life as each day is a new day. A new day to try new things and that you should be forever grateful for all that you have. Also to be open into meeting all different types of people who are out there who have different stories and that everyone has a voice.

Q: What’s the most difficult wonder that goes through your mind each day as an adoptee?

A: Will I ever be good enough for someone and why did my birth parents give me up + do they still think about me?

Q: Has anyone from your biological parents family know of you and contacted you?

A: Not that I know of, and no.

Q: Do you ever think of how different your life would be if never adopted?

A: Yes, I don’t like to think about it alot but I don’t want to avoid it either. Like I said earlier I am forever beyond blessed with what/who I have in my life. I am sure it’d be very different and I wouldn’t be as lucky as I am to have what I am given right now such as a good education, health care, and a job. I know if I was still in China right now I’d mostly be working in an orphanage. I don’t take life for granted at all. I am truly blessed for everything. ❤️

‘Somewhere Between’ Documentary on Chinese Adoption Review

I’ve come across many good documentaries on Netflix but this one by far has been one of the best ones I’ve seen, maybe because I can relate to it so well. For those of you who don’t know ‘Somewhere Between’ the documentary was on Netflix awhile ago but it follows four Chinese adopted girls as teenagers coming to terms with who they are and where they come from. They meet and bond with other adoptees, some journey back to China to reconnect with the culture, and some even reach out to the oprhaned girls left behind. I was brought to tears throughout the documentary it was very moving. You don’t have to be adopted to have experienced abandoment, betrayal of trust, and a sense of being “different.” These are experiences we all have in common, and are the ones that cause the most pain, especially in the teen years. Overall it’s a must see film for anyone who has been adopted or considering adopting.

The Search for Belonging

Growing up in a primarily white suburban area it was hard for me to feel like I fit in. In middle school you’re just trying to find out who you are as a person because your not really sure. It wasn’t so easy for me to make friends back then because I really tried to look for friends who could relate to my situation and my feelings at the time but it was extremely hard. I didn’t want just any friend I wanted someone who I could connect to easily. As I mentioned earlier in one of my first posts I was fortunate enough to have a group of girls who I was adopted with that I got to connect with every year. We didn’t really discuss adoption but being around someone that looked like me brought both comfort and a sense of belonging. As I’ve gotten older I’ve grown more into talk about my adoption and my feelings which has helped me build connections with other Chinese adoptees and has been one of the best experiences I’ve had to interact with those who share similar stories to mine. At the end of the day it’s good to know there are others out there who are in this with you together and that you are not alone.