Loving Where We Are

This time six years ago we were about six weeks into our adoption journey. We started this journey with me thinking that we were entering a community of cohesiveness–where all families embraced culture, talked about race, and learned the languages of their children’s birth. Naive, wasn’t I? At six weeks in, I was beginning to realize that the adoption community didn’t all think like I did, but I didn’t yet realize what a misfit I would really be in this community.

For five years I fought trying to find a place in the adoption world. A place were we felt accepted, understood, encouraged, supported. I tried to convince other parents that they needed to be doing more when it came to culture, race, and language. I did this not only because it was truly what I believed but also because I wanted to be a part of the community. But it didn’t work and in the end our community has come from a very different place.

Many things have changed in the last year and some of those changes I would never have anticipated. The biggest change for me has been a change in attitude. Over the course of the last year, I’ve become less involved in online adoption communities and no longer lament my lack of acceptance. But it is only recently that I’ve realized just how much my attitude has changed. I truly no longer care what others think. I don’t feel the need to spend time trying to convince people about adoption-related parenting. I’m still happy to encourage and help those who are interested but I’d rather spend my time doing for my family and friends instead of trying to make headway into a community where I obviously don’t fit. I attribute this change in attitude to five things.

1. My age. I’m now over 40 and feel that the journey I’ve been on since I became a mother has really allowed me to accept who I am and what I believe and value. With maturity comes wisdom, and I feel that’s what I’ve experienced in the last year. I’m completely comfortable with how we’re parenting and feel that we truly are doing what’s best for J.

2. Experience. As our son gets older, we are beginning to see more what he needs and wants when it comes to his birth culture and in the last year, he’s wanted more. I guess it’s kind of a chicken-egg situation: which came first? I don’t know whether he wants more exposure because it’s who he is inside or because of the experiences we’ve given him. I suspect it’s probably a little of both. But whatever the reason, our parenting style seems to working for J. He loves his Koreaness and is comfortable talking about adoption with us. He’s already processing things and seems to be working through them so he’s in a good place.

3. Friends. In the last year, we’ve developed a close friendship with one adoptive family. They too embrace the culture and are learning the language as a family. I’ve discovered that one close friend who understands and values the same things we do is more important for me than the general acceptance of the larger community. (Of course, through online communities we’ve made a few friends across the country who are like us and I’m very thankful for Facebook and e-mail so we can be a part of each others’ lives.)

4. Community. In the last year, we’ve found our community. It wasn’t the local adoption community but instead is the local Korean American community. The more people in the community learn about us and our feelings about J’s birth culture, the more we’ve found acceptance. We’ve made true friendships, and being a part of this community has made a huge difference in how J sees himself. He’s one of the top students in his Korean school class, which surprised his teacher since he has caucasian parents. They’ve seen that our commitment is deep and true; we want to be a part of this community not just have the community be a resource for us.

5. Validation. Everyone needs some validation; it’s just part of the human experience. But what I’ve discovered in the last year is that validation from people I respect means more than acceptance from those I was trying to convince. In the last nine months of so, we’ve made a couple of connections with families in Korea. Our lifestyle–embracing the Korean culture and language–played a big part in our hosting a Korean exchange student. The student’s family felt that the connection to Korean culture would be important during a year abroad and resulted in the student being placed with our family. Then my short stint returning to the work force also resulted in getting to another Korean family. As we talked this coworker was surprised at our knowledge and love for the culture but that surprise led to a respect for what we are doing. We didn’t decide to live this life or parent this way to gain the respect and validation of others; we did it because we feel it was best for J. But it has been nice to have our decision respected by those in J’s birth country.

That fact is I’m really loving where we are as a family in our adoption journey. Some parts have been a long time coming. But we plugged along even when we felt alone, laying the foundation on which to build. Now we’re building on that foundation. I’m so thankful we didn’t give up. The next year promises more changes, likely including a move. My prayer is that even in a new place we’ll be able to continue building on that foundation adding friends and community as we go.

3 Responses to “Loving Where We Are”

  1. May 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    You go girl! I loved reading this, and I applaud both your tenacity in spreading the word about the importance of heritage and culture for adoptees and adoptive familes, and in finding your family’s path. It feels good, no?

    • 2 Mom2One
      May 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm

      If feels soooo good! I truly feel that now I can state my case and let it go. My hope is still that more families embrace heritage and culture but I’m confident in our path.

  2. March 16, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Kudus to you! I’ve seen a few US adopting parents who take an overly Christian or Imperialistic view, like they saved the child from a life of hell, and in doing so shun the culture of the child. I think it’s a lot more complex and nuanced than that, and is counterproductive to take that view (Cutting the child off from an inescapable part of themselves). Asian cultures in general are welcoming of those who take an interest in them. They are good friends to have indeed. Glad you feel like you’re finding your niche!

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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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