I recently attended the 9th Biennial Adoption Initiative Conference in New Jersey at Montclair State University. I had the opportunity to present my master’s thesis on international and transracial adoptees and how adoptees manage racism/racial discrimination. The presentation was based upon a qualitative study I conducted while completing my MSW at Arizona State University. The whole conference was one of those experiences that left me with plenty to think about and process. It was almost overwhelming, as there were many sessions on provocative topics. I wanted to attend them all, but only one selection could be made out of several per the conference schedule. It’s encouraging to see how many bright researchers there are conducting research related to international/transracial adoption, many of the researchers adoptees themselves. I regret that I did not meet and connect with more people, as I was not feeling very well during the 3-day conference and was not my usual self. Nevertheless, I had the pleasure of meeting some attendees who made my experience at the conference that much more meaningful.
The week following the conference, my husband and I traveled to California to begin house hunting. We will be moving to California in the coming months predicated upon the sale of our current home in Arizona. Oh the joys of moving. We’ve moved so many times over the years that I’ve lost count. Friends in California are welcoming our move back; however, I feel that the task is largely clouded by my own lack of energy and motivation, not to mention the stress of organizing such a move. We will obviously downsize, but have to find a home that will accommodate my baby grand piano. I’ve reluctantly entertained the thought of selling it, but I’ve had the piano since I was 8-years old and for sentimental reasons, don’t want to part ways. The piano was given to me by my adoptive parents, and I grew up practicing on those ivory keys for many an hour. It’s really not important to anyone else but me, but important enough to hang on to. We will travel to California again next week to continue our ventures in house hunting.
Since arriving back home from the conference, I’ve thought a lot again about legally changing my name, my middle name that is. My adoptive parents gave me the middle name “Chaling.” There is no such name in Chinese. My birth first name is Hsiao-ling and surname, Huang. I don’t know why my parents changed my middle name the way that they did. Perhaps to Westernize the spelling, yet keep some token of my birth country? In any case, there is an exorbitant fee attached to a legal name change even in the state of California. If I could change my first name back to Hsiao-ling, I certainly would, but at this point in my life, it seems a little late. Names are important. I never thought so until I realized the significance of being renamed by my adoptive parents. Many adoptees’ names are changed by their adoptive parents, or adoptees are given a generic name by orphanage staff because there is insufficient information regarding the birthfamily. I can’t understand why parents would change an adoptee’s name. It’s one of the only things left of their first identity after adoption. Well, actually it has everything to do with adoptive parents claiming the child as their own. It only makes identity that much more convoluted by all of the unknowns.
At this juncture, there are many big things going on at once. It feels unsettling, like a storm is brewing. We’re moving. I have to find a new job. I don’t know where that will be or what even interests me at this point. Our daughter is going to college in the fall. I guess a name change would go right along with all of the other changes that are taking place. The next time I see you, perhaps I’ll ask you to call me Hsiao-ling.