Unique Yet Similar

People were unique, each with an impossibly complicated inner life, a mosaic of personality, history,and perceptions. Their inner lives were vast, nebulous symbioses of memory and the present moment, no incident or experience standing alone from the incidents or experiences that formed them. But the problems people face were often the same.
–from Fragile: A Novel by Lisa Unger

I just finished reading the book from which the above quote comes. I happen to love this author’s books; her books resonate with me and the above quote seemed to sum up my feelings about the experience of adoptees (although that wasn’t at all what the book is about).

Over the course of the last four years, I’ve learned so much from reading and listening to the complicated stories of adult transracial adoptees. While I listen to all, I’ve personally learned the most from those who are open about sharing their struggles as they’ve worked to form their identities.

But I know many adoptive parents choose not to listen to those hard, complicated stories. They cling to the stories of the “happy” adoptees, feeling I guess that in those there is hope that their children won’t struggle. I’ve even heard these so-called “happy” adoptees (and I use the term for lack of a better one) claim that each experience and person is so different that they can’t relate to those who have struggled.

Of course, there is truth in that each of us is unique and each has traveled a path that is uniquely ours. But so much of the human experience is linked by commonalities. That’s why I loved the quote from Fragile. It addresses the differences in each of us, while acknowledging that the problems we face are all too common.

I admit that it bothers me when the experiences of adult adoptees who have struggled are disregarded, not listened to, or passed off as “not the norm.” Because to me it seems that so many are sharing the same information–the same struggles, the same feelings of loss. How can we not listen? How can we believe that our kids will be immune or unaffected? How can we not allow this information to penetrate us and change us as parents for the better?

That’s not to say that the experiences of adoptees who haven’t struggled aren’t valid. They are; and I always keep them in the back of my mind. But understanding the struggles of adoptees who have passed through the phases and stages my son is going through help me to be a more proactive parent. One who is ready and willing to address the issues and struggles, if and when it is needed.

One adoption book I read, I believe it was Patty Cogen’s Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child, noted that a small percentage of adoptees may never struggle with their experience. But that most will, at some point in their lives. That’s the commonality of our problems. And I personally have heard too much to ignore it.

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My Korean Culture Blog

Just a reminder that if you want to learn more about Korean culture (both traditional and pop culture), language resources, and cooking, check out my other blog: thekoreanway.wordpress.com It's filled with resources for adoptive families or anyone interested in Korean culture.

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