Monday, November 9, 2009

Adoption and Identity

As the parent of an adopted girl from China, I read with great interest the NY Times story on a major study of adults who had been adopted from Korea as young children. The news seems to be that adopted children are just like everyone else.

Like everyone else, they complain about being teased as children. Some seem to think that they were teased for looking different, but in fact all children get teased for something. Nobody ever looked more like the majority group than I did, and I seem to recall getting teased a lot. Also, the adoptees have struggled with their identities and the question of who they are:
“The process of discovering who I am has been a long process, and I’m still on it.”
I don't mean to be glib, and I am sure that adopted children have greater issues about who they are, on average, then people who grow up with their biological parents. But it is important to see the identity struggles of adoptees as a particular case of an issue that almost everyone has, not something unique to their situation.

One pattern I found striking is that many of the adoptees spent their childhoods trying to blend in and be as white as possible, ignoring parental efforts to interest them in Korean culture. But then in high school or college they began to wonder more about where they came from and to get more interested in their Korean identities and their birth families. More than half had been to Korea. I believe this is also a very common pattern in our society. Children strive to be like their peers, whereas adults want to distinguish themselves and find a unique identity.

1 comment:

kathy said...

If you want to see a more unique, and very sad, take on the adoptive experience, watch