What Adoptees Wish APs Did Differently

Last week, Whitney posted a video on social media, posing a question to our readers. It had been nagging at her for awhile and she wanted some input. Ask and you shall receive! Our amazing followers gave such helpful, honest, impactful feedback, we wanted to share it here with everyone.

The original question was: “What do you wish your parents had done differently raising you?”

Whitney was on her way out to an adoptive parent class and anticipating the questions she might get in the Q+A. This particular one almost always comes up in parent sessions and she struggles to find an answer:
A) Because the question just makes her feel ‘icky’
B) Because she never knows what an appropriate answer is.

So she took to social media to ask our followers:
A) How the question makes them feel and
B) How they would answer it.

Take in all the wisdom:

1) I think the question is fine; I’ve had that question before when I spoke to a family adopting a new baby from Germany (years ago). I would say I do wish my parents were more involved with my feelings and ensuring I was comfortable in my environment. But also listening to me more when I had issues with my adoption and questions. I wish I had the opportunity to do more within the Korean and Asian communities. We had this one event only once a year in my town called Aga-Pa-Day and it was just one day in the summer where Korean adoptees and their families would enjoy the food, dance, tae kwon do, have your pictures taken, shop, and learn to write your name. That was only one day a year lol but getting to know where your child comes from.. The town/city they were born in and do some special things for them to remember by on the future. And if they want to go back embrace it.. Don’t block it out for them. It’s natural for them to want to be curious where they come from, who they look like, what the environment is like, food, customs, etc.

2) A. Makes me feel like what they did was wrong. But it made me who I am today.
B. Nothing. I never would have had the experiences, gone through the soul searching, and also been mature enough for what I’m going through now. I think all things in Gods time and absolutely would never say, “you should have done this”.

3) Honestly, I wouldn’t wish anything different in my story. If something were to be changed I wouldn’t be where I am today, and I love where I am. Good experiences, bad experiences. I don’t have any ‘different’ wishes…. HOWEVER, my parents were VERY open to a continual discussion regarding my biological family and were very open to my curiosity. They always answered my questions (what they could) and gave the usual “you birth mother was very brave speech…” You [whitney] have a blog post about this and/or I’ve had many discussions regarding bio/adopted records with other adoptees. One thing my adoptive mother won’t ever understand, is that SHE won’t ever understand and won’t ever be able to empathize with me and my feelings on some things…one example: genetics and how that can be a touchy subject at times. So my advice: tell these parents to REMAIN OPEN-MINDED. They have to come to terms with being open to discussions and really have to stick to being as honest as they can with their new adoptee. They need to remain open indefinitely to many things…leave them with that. #foodforthought

4) Side note: this is a personal thing but I am glad my parents didn’t throw me into adoptee camps or events. I felt weird as it was…an Asian growing up in a predominately Caucasian community…throwing me into an adoptee camp would have made me feel even more different. Meaning–as if being a different race than my friends and classmates wasn’t enough, BTW, we’re (your white parents) sending you to an adoptee camp. There’s obviously no way to tell how I would have felt because i flat out said, “no” to all two times my AP asked, because truly, my gut feeling was that I would have felt “i already stand out because i LOOK different, why not add a little pizazz and make it more obvious that I don’t belong here in your white world.” All I wanted when I was growing up was what all kids want, to fit in and be liked. Plus, I was kind of shy and I don’t think I would have done well with other adoptees, I always saw an awkward situation and social terror. (😂😂)

5) I think I would have liked my parents to have talked about race as a social construct, what that means for current and real world navigation, institutional racism and how that influences individuals, groups, organizations, etc. and how that can affect you/the adoptee and the family, both individually and holistically.

6) One of the biggest missteps in interracial adoption is when parents and social workers just push assimilation. We are not white, and never will be. APs need to realize that the world will always view your cute Asian child as a foreigner, not American. APs need to be preparing their children for that reality. Of course, that means they must admit to themselves that white privilege exists first.

7) Agree completely…Still can never talk to my parents about non-white issues I have bcuz they can’t understand it….The reality is we’re not white and the outside world doesn’t view us as such.

8) Advice: always keep an open mind. Be open to their feelings. Encourage them always.

9) I see that question in two layers, one layer addresses the universal parent – child relationship and the second addresses specific aspects of interracial adoptees. An example of an answer through the universal parent-child lens would be, I wish my parents were more woke about gender roles and expectations. I liked sports, I wore boys clothes and my mom never let me forget that I was robbing her of the girly girl she deserved. An answer for the second layer would be, I wish they would have been more aware of the microagressions and coded language used when addressing the racial difference. A few small off-hand racial jokes, or slights might seem harmless but after a lifetime add up. Like, my dad’s favorite joke was saying that I avoided my “birth name” which he pronounced “Some Young Jew” (fun fact that is NOT the name on my adoption papers but you know that joke was funny to him because old dudes).

10) I would say- regardless of the situation- adoption or not kids may always have an retrospective opinion when they’re older on what could have been done differently. With respect to identity/culture , I would say just try to be in tune with the child, listen to him or her, there’s so much written about the parental experience and the child/adoptee experience but everything is different for each child. Some may want to explore the ‘korean’ side, some may have no interest, nothing is right or wrong so just try to meet the child at whatever stage s/he is in. Regardless of being adopted, kids have to deal with so many growing pains so just be there to really love them and listen to them. I think feeling acceptance and love from the parents is key.

Thanks to our amazing followers who always help us flesh out these tough questions when they come up. It has been an amazing journey developing a community amongst these friends spread out all across the country and the world, but joined by the common thread of adoption. Find us via the social media links below and join in on the fun! Maybe your answer will be featured next…


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© We the Lees, 2017. All Rights Reserved

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