I have a tendency to consider other adoptees my extended family. When meeting a fellow adoptee, it is not unusual to skip right over the “small talk” and get right into our intimate feelings about parents, ourelves and our families before getting to know where we grew up, where we live now, where we went to school, what we do for a living. I realize I am dating myself here. Having married within the same race was a big deal in the late ’90s within my community. Now, I am finding it interesting to see more and more adoptees dating and marrying each other.
Actually, the only guy I knew growing up was really a “brother” from the same orphanage. He was a couple of years older than me and came to America a year before me. We lived in the same room and I could not stand him. The feeling was mutual for a very long time. So the thought of dating him was a double no-no – Korean and from the same orphanage. He has since passed away and I regret not having stayed in better touch with him as adults. He could have been a great friend, the oppa (big brother) I always wanted.
It is uncanny how intimate we adoptees get with each other. I always felt for the women (non-adoptees) who were dating “our” men. It can be a bit intimidating to see their guy at a table surrounded by women and really believe it is purely plutonic. Let’s face it, there are always so many more women than men at all the Gatherings and adoptee related activities. I think the numbers are evening out, but generally, the adoptee community is still women-heavy.
Our loyalties run deep too. The first group of adoptees I met are the ones I have grown with and to choose another circle of adoptee friends feels disloyal, abandonment revisited. It can be tricky though, to befriend does not always mean we are on the same page. The compartmentalizing of adoptees as pro, con, activist, in the business, in denial, feels like we keep playing the same part of the children we are identified as being. Just as I have changed my perception of myself, so too I hope I have changed in my perception of my adoption, adoption as a whole. After all, adoption is not an event, is it?
Finding such kindred spirits has been a whole lot harder now that I am not within the fold of an adult adoptee organization. Perhaps as I am getting older the need is not as paramount, but to know that others look through the same lens is irreplaceable. Always a seeker, I can’t stop working toward others, leaning into them in hopes that our spirits will coalesce.