being in the middle is so boring

Well, how to come back from this crazy week of mine?  Get a nasty head cold and migraine should do it.  Now to resume to my usual play…

I did several post-President interviews and while my speech laid out my basic ideas, I realized that I could never satisfy a reporter’s request for a point blank answer.  Every answer was carefully crafted, diplomatic and well, frankly, wordy and boring.  I speak passionately from this middle ground perspective but it is a wonder I get heard at all.  After all, we adoptees have a reputation for being angry, bold, anti or pro.  No grey.

I do have opinions, thoughts and some research to back up my claims.  I do believe that being adopted is, as a friend would say, “shit hard.”  I do believe the challenges so many of us overcome are silenced by the thousands of adoptive parents, professionals and other adoptees who want us to just be happy, successful and grateful.  I do passionately want to be heard.

But I have an even stronger will to live my life. I am more passionate to do for my kids and husband, to have a better relationship with my Umma, to care for those I love and who love me than to go toe to toe with another point of view who feels they are right and I should join them.  I have to save my energy to sit with pain, tears and sadness as I listen to adoptee after adoptee in my professional life question THEIR right to love and acceptance.  I have to have enough energy to poke and prod my apathetic adolescents to look at their behavior in the context of their adoption story.  I have to be strong enough to hold fears of abandonment, rejection, misinformation and no information.  And I have to have just a little left over to muster up the courage to tell an adoptee that sometimes, it isn’t adoption at all, it’s just family, just like everyone else.  So, it is all that I can do to keep my balance and save some for myself notwithstanding my own fears of abandonment, desire for approval and acknowledgement that I am good.

With all the surveys, questionnaires and interviews adoptees get asked, the answer fails to reflect the whole community.  Several hundred is but 1 or 2% of the hundreds of thousands of us.  Where are they?  Are they just living life?  When I spew out a stat or quote, am I being fair and accurate?  Does it matter when it feels like transplanting a child or stripping an identity from a baby is such a huge injustice?  Does the ends justify the means?

I wrote the Gathering Report of Adult Korean Adoptees for the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute before I was 30 when I still felt like my voice mattered.  It took another Korean adopted woman, married to a Caucasian man, who refused to identify herself as part of an interracial couple to stop me on my arrogant track of being “the voice for adoptees.”  This adoptee tore my ‘research’ apart as flawed because it was a self selected sample and SHE was not a part of it.  She came to adopt a Korean baby and who the hell was I to ask about her story, her memories, her tears.  No reflection thank you very much, just a baby.  She challenged all my conventions of the pendulum swings of identity.  And while I knew enough to know she was struggling and in a ton of denial of her pain and loneliness, she made me check myself before being so cocky as to  represent her and many of the adoptees whose voices we never hear from.  She never followed through with her adoption.  I hope I moved something inside her to shed light on her passionate ambivalence.  She moved me.  I was schooled.

I am but one voice and one voice only.

9 thoughts on “being in the middle is so boring

  1. I apologize for commenting so much these past couple of days, but what I’m reading here is striking many chords. Feel free to delete this comment, just want to pass on that I’m an adoptive parent who experiences the same sense of being in the middle in the adoptive parent community. I’m not a professional or someone who would be called on to speak for everyone, so that isn’t a concern I share. I wouldn’t characterize being in the middle so much as boring, because I honestly believe that trying to bridge the polar points of view is incredibly challenging. But it’s pretty lonely, that’s for sure, at least in adoptive parent land.

    • no way, thank you. i am thrilled you are reading my words margie. i am getting to like being in the middle more and more. my arms are out and welcome to those on either side. after all, how can i choose the middle if there were no right and left?

  2. I just found your blog, and I’m so glad I did! Like Margie, I’m the white adoptive mom of Asian children; I’ll admit I want my kids to just be happy and successful (grateful I wouldnt touch with a 10 foot pole!) but that wont happen by ignoring the challenges.

    Yours may be one voice, but the story you have to tell is nuanced not just by your own lived experience, but the experiences of those you mentor and council. Your willingness to learn from those perspectives is grace and wisdom.

    I think following the middle road will lead to real and lasting change:
    1) Support for children to stay where they belong, in the families where their story starts
    2) Respecting an individual’s right to the whole of their own history when our imperfect world means that just isn’t possible.

    • many thanks. glad to hear there are more joining my middle ground. my friend Hollee McGinnis always says that if more and more of us sit on the fence, then the fence will inevitably fall down. and that pendulum swing metaphor is the one and only Peter Savasta. i hope they are reading. i never forget who to acknowledge and grateful for this opportunity to model too. as the younger generation takes over adoptee groups, i hope they understand that history does not always need to repeat, we can actually learn from it.

  3. As a fellow Korean adoptee who’s becoming a first time mom through a Korean adoption, I am making all the decisions I wish my adoptive mother had chosen. It took the adoption of my son to make me wake up and learn more about my own culture for the sake of my child. I feel reawakened as if I’ve been asleep. I really appreciate your blog and thank you for speaking on the behalf of adoptees 🙂

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