By Min Ji
I have always known that I was adopted. I cannot remember a specific time when my parents sat me down and actually told me that I was adopted. Being adopted was just something I have grown knowing. Although I come from a family with several adopted children, there have been other events in my life that have built my "self image" of being adopted.
FAIR and all of the organizationís activities have especially kept me in touch with being adopted. Ice skating and Lunar New Year parties have not only been "fun things" we did with the family, but opportunities for me to be around other kids who were also adopted. Being around the other adopted kids was never a huge deal, but I knew they were different than all the other kids from school, because we all had adoption in common.
When I was about eight I went to "group". Every Tuesday night my brother and I drove to "group" with my dad and mom. I remember getting so excited to go. This group was especially for adopted kids and it was my first formal experience of talking about how it felt to be adopted. There were two small groups and each group had two leaders. I remember feeling very comfortable, especially since I knew some of the other kids from FAIR. We put together a book of our thoughts and feelings about being adopted. Our feelings were conveyed through drawings and writing. This group was structured, yet at the same time we were able to talk freely and it did not feel like school. Group was a positive adoption experience in the fact that it let me express my own feelings, as well as hear the other kidsí ideas and feelings about adoption. I think that every adopted child should have the opportunity to attend this type of group.
When I was older I went to Korean camp. I remember telling my mom that "I didnít need some stupid cultural camp for adopted kids." I guess I was wrong Ė again. I loved KIM camp and I really connected with my peers. We did all the usual camp activities, but we also talked about being Korean adoptees. I was very surprised to find out that some of the others campers had never met another Korean child or another adopted child. That was so weird to me. Until then, I had not realized the importance of knowing and interacting with other adopted kids. Those other campers felt this sort of alienation and curiosity that I had never felt. Being adopted for me was so normal and not a big deal and I felt bad that those kids, who had never met another adoptee, saw themselves as so different for being adopted.
A few years later, I made a new best friend. My mom dropped me off at her house and my friend later asked if that was my mother. Trying to sound knowledgeable, I explained to my friend that I did not look like my mother because I was adopted. Little did I know that she was also adopted! We instantly felt this bond and became very close. We spent time playing together and sometimes we even talked about how we wondered what life would be like with our birthmothers. While we felt close because we were both adopted. At the same time, we were also different because her parents never talked about adoption. I was her first adopted friend and she never really talked about being adopted until we became friends. Again I thought it was so of weird that my friend had never really talked or thought about adoption. My being around other adopted children made the idea of being adopted just as natural as going to school or playing soccer.
Last summer I was a camp counselor and I had to deal with a little adopted boy. He was crying because his friends were calling him "Orphan Annie". He told me that he was adopted and his friends thought being adopted was weird. This was my first time dealing with adoption with another child other than a sibling. I did my best to comfort him and he felt a lot better when I told him that I was also adopted. Again I felt this sort of closeness to the child. I explained to him that adoption was nothing to be ashamed of. The child and I sat and talked about being adopted and I think he felt a lot better just being able to talk about it and ask me questions.
Adoption is a large part of my life, but I think it has been positive for the most part because of my exposure to other adopted kids. I see adoption as just a normal part of myself. However, I know if I lived in a town where I was the only adopted kid, and my parents never really talked about the meaning of adoption with me, I would be different. Adoption can be hard to understand if you do not have anyone to relate to. I know I would see adoption differently, probably more negatively and not so much as second nature, if I hadnít the experience as I did when I was younger.