Fitting In vs Belonging

The image could be the mantra for many adoptees. A lifetime of trying to fit in, be accepted and feel worthy is exhausting and traumatic. We don’t always even know the toll it takes on us emotionally, but it manifests in so many different ways in our lives.

Now that I actually know I am 25% Danish (my adoptee dad’s original father was a Danish immigrant) this story captured my heart. An adoptee writes about her struggle fitting in.

I’m an Asian European. My mother is Danish and my father is an American. I’ve grown up in both places but have moved home to Denmark and am staying here because I feel this is my true home.

Both my Danish and my American family are white, all my friends here in Denmark are white and I’ve almost lost contact to all of my Asian friends in the US because they mistakenly think that I want to be white, my husband is white (I chose him because of who he is and not what he is), and my two sons are often mistaken for being white. So whether I like it or not – and I actually don’t – I’ve developed a white identity.

When I look in the mirror I’m actually surprised to see an Asian woman and I honestly don’t know how to feel about the woman I see. I actually expect to see a white woman with rosy skin, blond hair and blue eyes. Not because that’s what I want to look like at all but because here in Denmark most women have blond hair and blue eyes.

My Asian friends in the US were South Asians, so I never really had any…what should we say ? Mongoloid Asians as mirrors to compare myself to and therefore, I have no idea whether I’m ugly, average, or beautiful. It’s a very strange feeling.

I have to admit that my family’s feeling about Asians and non-whites haven’t helped me to become a proud Asian either. They’ve always made it clear that it was probably a mistake to adopt me. I was never allowed to call my parents mom and dad but was told to call them by their first names. The family has said things like “you’re not really like them (other Asians), so you don’t have to mix with them”. They went hysterical whenever I was with non-white friends or boyfriends and they nearly threw me out in the cold, when I tried to discover the Asian in me.

I was actually disappointed when I fell in love with my husband. I thought, now they’re going to have their way. Oh, aren’t they just going to be thrilled that I’m marrying a white man and to make it all worse for me (better for them) he has blond hair and blue eyes like most Danes.

It doesn’t help the situation that my husband has said that he always imagined that his wife and children would be fair and have blond hair. I get so hurt when people say “your sons could be mistaken for white, you can’t even tell that they’re half Asian”. Said in a tone expressing ? relief or pride ?

I know it’s a lengthy message but I hope that after having read it the reader understands why I’m not exactly a proud Asian and that it’s easier for me to try to blend into the white community and culture that I live in because this is the only place I feel at home. I am Danish; I’m Danish-Asian.

~ posted on Reddit

One comment touched my heart – it is the last one on that linked page but wow, two adoptees who married, that is like my own parents.

To the Danish adoptee, I am so sorry you were adopted into such a racist, white superiority, piece of crap for a family. OOH IT makes my blood boil when I hear stories like yours. How dare your family to even get a chance to adopt a person who is of color. There is definitely a glitch in the adoption service when it comes to screening the proper families to adopt internationally. When I hear stories like yours it makes me sad, angry and I can’t help thinking that there has to be way to solve these problems. I can only begin to understand how much pain you have gone through and trying your whole life to make sense of what it is that you have gone through. Let me tell you, you aren’t alone in this world. I am married to a Korean adoptee and he didn’t have the best adoptive parents either. I am also a Korean adoptee and being married to an adoptee, it is extremely complicated and trying at times. Our adoption and how we were both raised comes out in our marriage a lot.

The Importance Of Names

From the UK Mirror

A mum-to-be has sparked an interesting debate online, after confessing she’d found herself in a bitter row with the biological family of her soon-to-be adopted twins.

The woman and her husband are due to become parents to a gorgeous pair of twins when they are born next year – but while everything had been going smoothly between the two families, they’ve recently come to a huge road block over names.

“My husband and I are in the process of adopting two cute little twins that will be born in January,” the 25-year-old explained on Reddit’s Am I The A**hole forum.

“The biological mother is a 15-year-old girl, G, who doesn’t want to keep them. She’s the daughter of a friend of a friend of ours and somehow it got through that we wanted to adopt so her family called us as soon as they knew that G was pregnant.”

The couple have been with G all throughout her pregnancy and have assured her that even though she doesn’t wish to be a mother to the twins, she can still be a part of their life and visit them whenever she wants, as they’ll all be living in the same city – despite the fact the teen has shown no interest in having a relationship with them at all so far.

“As soon as we found out about the baby, we began looking for names and when it was confirmed that it were going to be twins, a girl and a boy, we decided on the names Ellie and Evan,” the woman continued.

“Last week however, we were informed that G had chosen names herself; Walter and Agnes. She didn’t choose them because of a relative, just because she thought they sounded cool. I don’t think I have to mention how outdated the names are and my husband and I simply don’t like them.”

The mum-to-be added that even if the name chosen by G were great, they’re still hers and her husband’s children and they will be raising them, therefore it’s their place to choose the names.

“They will also get our last name and legally be our children, which was decided and agreed on five months ago,” she continued. “G’s family is upset with us for not accepting their ‘real’ names and is threatening to look for new parents.”

The mum explained that while she was considering naming the girl Ellie Agnes to appease the family, there was no way she would ever name the boy Evan Walter.

Although it appears to be empty threats from G’s family, the woman turned to Reddit to question whether she was justified in putting her foot down when it comes to naming their adopted babies.

“I think you need to look at it from the bio moms perspective. She is giving you a really big gift. Regardless of practicality, opportunities etc, these are her babies. Naturally she would want to give them a name, it’s practically the only thing she will ever be able to give them,” one suggested.

“You will be the ones to comfort them, you will be the ones to cuddle them, you will be the ones there for every milestone. I understand hating the names, but I would try to either keep them as middle names or talk to her and see if you can come up with better names together.”

In my all things adoption group, the comment was –

To me it basically comes down to whose names are they?…The baby boy and the baby girls. It’s as simple as that. It’s not the adopter’s names nor the birth mother’s names…it’s the names she chooses and gives them. So it’s their names. Their name is their property, belonging to each of them. To take that away is identity theft, as happens in the majority of adoptions. It kinda happened in my adoption, as my adoptive parents didn’t know/weren’t told my name so chose what I was to be called. I was 38 before I learned my original name…MY name. I usually liken it to me calling someone by their wrong name eg Barbara, but I call her Bernice. She’d put me straight pretty damn quick, yet Adoptees live a life by the wrong name and are expected to put up and shut up! Adoption should be about the child’s needs and about their rights, respect and
autonomy, not ownership, imbalance or superiority. When will people get that?

My own experience –

My adoptee dad used to tease my adoptee mom by using her name at birth. It turns out that both of them had names relevant to their genetic heritage – for my dad, his middle name was the name of the man who fathered him. for my mom, her middle name was her grandmother’s middle name – my grandmother had lost her mom at the tender age of 7 and was seeking to honor her. I am against adoptive parents changing adoptee’s names. The change in the last name may be a governmental requirement as regards financial responsibility but then again, these days, with remarriage so common, does it really matter what the last name
of the child is ?