I’m sitting here at one of my favorite coffee shops on the campus of Arizona State University in between classes. I just met with my thesis committee chair to discuss my progress and address some questions. The past two weeks have been a lesson in time management. Despite best efforts, I’m having a hard time keeping up.
I’m excited about completing my thesis and especially about the topic. I would never have thought that one day I’d be writing about international and transracial adoption, racism, and discrimination. One of the things that I see about myself through this process is just how much my thoughts have changed regarding my own personal experience with adoption.
When I was a kid growing up in Bossier City, Louisiana, fitting in was the most important thing in my life. I was Asian, but wanted to be white. I rejected anything related to being Asian. I was raised by white parents, so despite my outward appearance, I thought like any other American kid. I didn’t understand why other kids treated me differently because of my physical appearance, the “othering,” teasing, microaggressions caused me to feel less than. I began to think that maybe looking different, being different wasn’t such a great thing. In fact, I thought if I could just be and look like everyone else around me, I would be accepted. When I found my adoption papers, an identity unknown to me was revealed. I learned that I was not Japanese and Vietnamese as my adoptive parents told me, but Taiwanese. I will never know if they purposely lied or whether they were given misleading and/or false information from the orphanage staff at Family Planning Association of China. We all have turning points in our lives, and for me, that was one of the biggest. It set a brand new course, a course to champion the voices of adoptees whose voices are often dismissed.
So much has happened since then. As I complete my master’s degree in social work, I hope that one day I’ll be able to work somewhere that allows me to effect change in international adoption practice, adoptee welfare, bringing to light child trafficking and unethical adoption practices. I’m not quite sure what that looks like yet. For sure, there aren’t many opportunities in Arizona. I’d like to believe that this degree will open doors somewhere though.