Birth Parents, Adoptee Parents, and the Silent Language of Biology
I’ve been thinking a lot about the choice to have children as an adoptee (not that I am even close to being there yet). But, the notion of having children, for many adoptees is pretty scary.
The “Right” Circumstances
Many of us were relinquished by our birth parents for a variety of reasons. However, there are quite a few of us whose parents were unable to take care of us for socioeconomic reasons. Perhaps there was no father in the picture, or religion played a role in a birth parent’s decision to relinquish their child. Many adoptees find themselves examining the decision to have children as a re-examination of themselves as adoptees. I’ve given it some thought, but it hasn’t been with out pain. If I ever decide to have children, I want it to be under the “right” circumstances. I know that there really isn’t any sort of “right” circumstance for having children, but in a lot of ways, I want to ensure that if I do have children, I am able to take care of them as much as I can.
Our Biological Legacy
How many adoptees have ever thought about adopting? I won’t lie, it has crossed my mind once or twice. But that’s not to say that I haven’t considered having children biologically either. It’s a really tough call. Part of me doesn’t want to have children because of everything I’ve been through, and for all the frustrations I have with the international adoption system. I want to make positive changes in policies and the systems and institutions that seem to be so poorly conceived and implemented. However, I can’t help but think to myself “If I don’t have children, this could be the end of my particular tie to my birth family’s bloodline.” I was the only child birthed by my two parents, and I represent the end of their bloodline. Am I meant to carry on my birth family’s biological legacy? Do I want to, given what I know about my birth father? These are all tough questions, and ones that I have no answers to.
A New Mom, a New Son
I met my mom this past summer. What changed? Everything. Suddenly, I’m aware of the woman who created me, who cares about me potentially just as much as she would if she had raised me in Korea. In Korea, at our first lunch together she moved kalbi onto my plate-told me to eat up. She hugged me close in our first photo together. All of a sudden I had another mom, and new expectations for myself and our relationship to come. How do you start a brand new relationship with a mother after 26 years has passed? How do I begin to build trust and communication when we are so close yet so far apart? Who am I as a son? I think back to when I was a kid. I remember always thinking to myself, “If I do something really well, maybe my mom will see me and be proud of me wherever she is.” That feeling still exists, and has grown stronger since our first meeting. I want to share my life with her. But I am saddened by how I may never be able to speak to her face to face. I’m confused by who I am as a son, and if I could ever have a son given my own pain and and anxiety. My life seems to have been measured by expectations. They were mostly expectations for myself, but I set the bar high-too high perhaps.
In the end, I know that these are all potentially premature dialogues I am having (in my head). There is absolutely no way I can even think about having children at this point in my life after what I’ve learned this past year about my birth family and about myself. But I feel different. I long to see her face as familiar. Not just as the face of the mother I have just met. I want her face to be as familiar to me as my body that I know she gave birth to. That seems to be the only thing I can cling to for comfort. As adoptees living in America, I think we are hurt by how society sets stereotypes and expectations on us all because of the way we look. We strive to be more than that, and to live above the superficiality of stereotypes. But in the end, when and if we are reunited with our birth families, it’s the only thing we have that is sacred to us. Our hands, feet, hair, and face are the only thing that link us to our birth families at times. And they are the only things that we can communicate silently to each other as solace that we belong and that we are family.