I had an interesting and lively conversation with my oldest daughter during a very long drive home from a soccer match this past weekend. I share this because it’s unusual for three reasons:
1) Her siblings weren’t in the car to interrupt us.
2) She didn’t dismiss the topic of adoption, something she has always done, unlike her siblings.
3) She shared that she thought I (and many others) was “overthinking” it—the trauma, the core issues that are inherent in adoption, and the rampant stereotyping of adoption and the constellation “members.”
My daughter is a teen, adopted transracially and internationally. Despite our gentle efforts to be very open and encourage our daughter to embrace her birth identity she is, now, the quintessential All-American girl. Or is she? Deep down I wonder… Still waters run deep.
We discussed my work and delved into adoption trauma, how it can impact those who have been adopted. She shared she’s just fine, but asked a lot of questions regarding what she’s observed with her siblings. My daughter has no memories of fear and sadness as an infant, however I witnessed them. So did her dad. She has adapted remarkably well.
My daughter’s babysitter was just fine, too, despite her parents’ ongoing efforts to encourage her to embrace her birth identity. Then she became an adult, married (my daughter was her flower girl) in white (the cultural norm in the U.S.) and red (the norm of her cultural of origin), and gave birth to her first daughter. For the first time she really saw herself, in the beautiful Asian features of her daughter—someone who looked like her. She began in earnest to embrace aspects of her culture of origin and balancing them with traditions and features of her adopted culture, with full support from her husband and family.
My daughter is in the process of becoming fluent in her birth language. She is reexamining how she and others perceive her culture of origin as well. In the past there was little to no interest, depending on how the wind was blowing. As she morphs into this incredibly beautiful human being I see my daughter finally stepping forward with confidence and grace, slowly exploring her birth identity, figuring out how to meld her two identities into one that fits her, and grasping how being adopted has impacted her and will continue to do so.
For Discussion: What are your thoughts? Are we overthinking it?