I love Dan Savage’s campaign “It Gets Better”(www.itgetsbetter.org). Is it hyperpole to feel that this campaign applies to me? A straight, Korean American adopted woman? I wish we had something like this for the adoptee community. It wouldn’t hurt to have one for the world of race relations either. I related to so many of the stories – feeling out of place, feeling different, feeling alone, feeling like no one out there could possibly understand what I was going through. I also experienced acceptance, community, belonging and love. I too had to wait long past high school to realize that the pain of trying to fit in gets duller with time and the more I know myself, the less it matters. I may not get that BFF so coveted in my younger years, but I have friends like me who are family.
The “It Gets Better” videos transcend the LGBT world to anyone who has been bullied or told they were wrong for the way they look, feel or act. It spoke to me as a young adult who was told that I was being ridiculous for insisting that the word “Oriental” not be used or that I was “Anti-American” for choosing to date Asian boys and for being around more and more Koreans.
It does get better once I realized I was a grown-up and could make my own decisions. It gets even better to see my children growing up with all kinds of loved ones around. Brown, Yellow, White, Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, Sikh, Latin, African, European, Asian, Gay, Straight, Single. As an adult I created the world I want around me. It was worth the wait.
A friend told me about an interview she heard with AJ Jacobs, author of The Know-It-All. He wrote a book about reading the entire Encyclopedia Brittanica. When asked what he learned, he offered the fable of the wise men who said something like – to all things sad and happy, this too shall pass.
It got me thinking. The idea that that it gets better with age and that all things – especially the bad things – eventually come to an end, feels immensely optimistic. Hopeful. Savage and his husband are doing that, creating hope for LGBT youth. The creation of adult adoptee organizations, over 15 years ago, was to be a platform to honor all those stories and give a real voice to the experience of being a person of color raised in a predominantly Caucasian home. We spent hours of our free time to talk about our successes but also our challenges and how we come to rest and become comfortable in the many identities that hold us together. Mostly, our audiences were adoptive parents and to them we wanted to give hope and tools to parent differently, to do it better. But what got us all really jazzed was when we met others of our kind, shared a meal and commiserated over our growing up years. The most gratifying aspect of being an adult international adoptee was creating a mentorship program for younger kids. Through mentoring, we had a chance to give a different definition of the future for our younger generation.
So, I am wondering, with centuries of adoptions in our history, why does it continue to still feel so new? Why do I still have adoptees come into my office telling me they feel so alone, that they never met another one like them before? Why are there still “first timers” in the adoptee community walking in shellshocked to see others share the same story?
Is there a way for me to invite you, my fellow adoptees, to come out again and share your heartache and how you came through the other end? Is there room in our community to grow from the lessons learned rather than constantly recreate?
Can we help our next generation of adoptees to know that this too shall pass?
I am not very tech savvy, but here might be a good place to begin. Pass this post around and tell me your story of redemption and hope.