If you’d told me 10 years ago that I’d be running this blog with my adoptee husband, traveling the country to adoptive family speaking engagements, and utilizing social media to make adoptee friends all over the world, I would have told you that you’re out of your mind. My head was simply not there at the time. In fact, I was about as far on the opposite end of the spectrum as I could have been.
But times change and so do people. And this is not just true for adoptees. It happens to everyone. Do you have the same best friends now that you did 10 years ago? Do you have the same favorite band or favorite food? Do you have the same political views that you did a decade ago?
Things happen. I traveled to Korea for work and lived there for a year. I was reunited with my birth family. I went through a deep depression and identity crisis upon my return to the States. I sought out other adoptees to combat my loneliness. I traveled to adoptee conferences. I met my now-husband.
And thus is the journey for most adoptees.
I often get questions from parents that go something like:
- “My adopted child has no interest in their birth family or birth country. Is something wrong?”
- “My adopted child is obsessed with their birth culture. Am I not enough?”
- “How can I strike the right balance of birth culture exposure for my adopted child?”
The answer to all of these questions is: Relax! Everything will be fine.
This is not to say that adoptive parenting is not a unique challenge, different in many ways from parenting a biological child. Certainly that cannot be discounted. However, I think our tendency is to swing the pendulum too far the opposite direction and worry constantly about adoptive issues when humans are humans and child development is child development all across the board.
Is your child completely disinterested in their birth culture? Cool! So was I! But life has a way of pushing you in the direction you need to go. And after 21 years of complete indifference, my livelihood depended upon my moving to my birth country (if I wanted to get paid and not live in school debt forever). Suddenly, I was quite interested!
Is your child totally into their birth country’s music and food and language and culture? That is awesome, and it is no reflection upon you. The #1 thing I would advise APs is: “Don’t take everything so personally.” Yes, I know it’s easier said than done. But your child has a complex history, different from your own, more different than you could ever understand (unless you were also adopted), so let them explore that a bit on their own time and in their own way. This does not mean that they hate you for adopting them and bringing them to the U.S. (or whichever country you call home). It simply means that they are curious about their history, and they have every right to be.
So everyone, take a load off! Relax and don’t worry. Wherever you or your child may fall on the “adoptee spectrum” currently, that is exactly where you/they need to be. Maybe they’ll swing the complete opposite direction at some point, just like I did. No sweat. Maybe they won’t and they’ll always be disinterested in their birth culture. Also great! Let things run their course. I promise that it will all turn out fine in the end.
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