Which of These is Not Like the Other?

A friend, Mama Nabi, (http://mamanabi.wordpress.com), recently wrote about not  feeling like she ever had a home.

Sister, I hear you.

I’ve felt that same way since the first time I remember knowing I was adopted. It was pounded into me again and again that no, I’m not my parents’ “real” child.  Family tree assignments were the worst. “What traits do you share with your family?”


My brother and sister at least shared the same dark brown eyes that both my parents have. They share a common skin color, a common country of birth.

Me? In some ways, I’m more obviously the one adopted. My parents both lean toward the dark side of “white”. I lean toward the snowflake side. I remember standing with my siblings, waiting in line to hit a pinata at one of those godawful international adoption picnics, and someone cruel singing “Which of these is not like the other? Which of these does not belong?”

They were talking about me, of course, the only white kid at the picnic.

I know, boohoo poor little white girl  with all the white privilege that goes along with that.

Well, just for now, you can take that and shove it. I can talk at length about all the times I have been given opportunities that people of color would never have been given, but now is not the time. Right now, I’m talking about how it feels to be an alienated adoptee.

How it feels to have a father say “I wish I never adopted you. We should have stuck with our plan to adopt from Korea.”

How it feels to meet and marry my dream man, only to hear “Well, with your family obviously you could only feel comfortable with someone darker.” or “You’ve always had an Asian fetish. Remember those picnics? You were always chasing the Korean adoptees.”

Being an adoptee means that your feelings, your deep down secret hopes, can never be expressed. It means always smiling, always pretending that the weeping, raw wound that is from being abandoned by your mother, your father, your family, doesn’t hurt anymore.

It means pretending that abandonment is okay, that she must have had some higher purpose in mind, that you are “better off”.

You can’t scream your rage to the heavens. You can’t crumple into a heap and sob because sometimes the sorrow, the inadequacy you feel is too much. You can’t even sneer when people tell you how “lucky” you are.

Why not?

You don’t want to be abandoned again. You cling to the people who have gained your trust. You become the person who desperately needs affirmation that yes, you do deserve to live a happy life.

My mom says that every day when she dropped me off at preschool, I would scream and howl. I would sob for her not to leave me. She called it “shy”. I call it “scared to death”.

Everyone says, “oh, they love you the same as any biological children. It’s the same.”

Why, then, were my siblings and I the second choice?

Why, then, does my mom’s side of the family treat us as outsiders?

Why, then, do people refer to us as my parents’ “adopted children”?

Why, then, is this pain still here?


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