Adoptee Marriages

Like a precious gift from Whitney Past, I just happened to stumble across this article that I wrote for an adoption publication a couple of years ago. Somehow, it never got sent or published and has just been taking up space on my hard drive. I thought it appropriate to publish here now. Written by Whitney, circa 2013…


Last month, I was texting with 아빠 Appa in Korea and he sent me a picture of he and 엄마 Omma from a recent weekend hike. 아빠 Appa was smiling proudly and 엄마 Omma was making a goofy face. I started laughing and passed the phone to my husband, Lee, so that he could see the picture. Instead of laughing, he thoughtfully stared at the phone for awhile. This may be a good place to mention that my husband is also a Korean adoptee. I was reunited with my birth family in Korea nearly three years ago. He has little interest in conducting a birth family search.

Lee turned to me and said, “I’m your husband so you can answer this honestly. Do you ever feel as if one set of parents is more like your ‘real’ ones? Which do you feel closer to? I am an adoptee too so I am really curious to know.” The question took me aback and framed the fascinating dynamic of a dual-adoptee marriage in a new light. (My answer to that question, by the way, was “Definitely not. Both are 100% my parents, but in totally different ways.” But that is an entirely separate topic for an entirely separate article.)

IMG_3895The adoptions Lee and I experienced at infancy affect our marriage relationship now in ways that we are not even conscious of, and these “adoptee conversations” are just normal banter in our house. It is not something we dwell on per se, but more like a comfortable topic that we can discuss as flippantly as the weather or weekend plans. It is our reality and one that we have become so comfortable with, both in our individual situations, and together as a married couple. For me, this is a fairly recent development; a radical transformation from a childhood and adolescence spent in denial, choosing to live in a delusion where I had blond hair and blue eyes like my friends and classmates. I like to think I am a bit more self-aware now, and infinitely more comfortable in my own skin. (Part of that journey is documented in this article I wrote for Adoption Voices Magazine.)

When we were dating long-distance, goodbyes were hard. We flew back and forth between Pennsylvania and Tennessee as often as schedules allowed and bank accounts afforded. I think goodbyes are difficult for any couple in that situation, but for us it felt…different. Harder. One day, during the long drive to the airport, Lee put it into words in a way I never could have. “I think my relinquishment as a baby makes goodbyes so much harder for me now.” I was floored. I had not been aware of it until then, but of course! How could relinquishment not affect us in that way? Compounded by a dual-adoptee relationship, it was no wonder those Sunday farewells felt, at times, so completely devastating.

I think my relinquishment makes goodbyes so much harder for me now.

I never would have dreamed (and Lee would say the same) of marrying a fellow adoptee, but now, I could imagine no better situation. There are a lot of unspokens between us that are just understood. No explanations are needed because we both get it. We have both lived it. There is much to be said for such a comfortable emotional connection and intimacy between a husband and wife team. I love my husband for countless reasons but none quite so poignant as this:
He just gets me.


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© We the Lees, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

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