Jun 21, 2018

WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO BE ADOPTED?

My Swedish Mom and Norwegian Dad, who had been trying for ten years to have their own children (both not able to give or receive kids) adopted my sister who was born in St. Louis Park in 1967.

When they learned of a “mixed” child, they did not hesitate even given the racially charged civil unrest (1) on the Northside of Minneapolis. The news of my arrival cost my parents friends and angered some family, but despite it all, took their brown baby home in June, 1968. In 1969, they opened our home

to foster kids with more than 300 coming through our home until 1973, when my sister and I got word

we were getting a younger brother. He arrived from Seoul, Korea right before Christmas of 1974.

 

Before the slew of kids that moved onto our block, I fondly remember eating rhubarb and cheese sandwiches while teaching my brother english on the jungle gym in our backyard, dressing up in tandem costumes my Mom would make us for halloween, going to Campfire Girls, vacations to Disney World and Washington DC. The years during elementary school saw even more kids arrive on the block which meant even teams for kickball, football and raucous games of Red Rover and Red Light/Green Light on our lawn. We were happy. Normal.

 

In 5th grade, (we’ll call him D.S.) made it his job to tell everyone on earth that Mom and Dad were not my “real” parents, and that my family should be in the circus freakshow. This segued into the summer before 6th grade where I was horrified when D.S. showed up at a friends church’s vacation bible school. I chose to ignore him and when my new friends asked about what he was saying, I started making up stories about the woman in my house that didn’t look like me. For two weeks she was the babysitter. One time my Aunt, another my stepmother. All because one asshole made me feel dirty because we didn’t look like his family. I finally had to come clean when our neighbor heard abut what

I was saying. Mom wasn’t mad but said all I need to say is that your birth mother gave you to God, and God gave you to me and your Dad. That Sunday, walking into the gym at church, I took off my sandals, went up to D.S. saying: "God loves me, more than you because I’m special and you’re a freak.” Then cracked him in the face. When we got to our Sunday School room, I went up and pulled the chair from under him, smiling at my handiwork, not caring that I was already grounded for lying and later-- because I acted up in church-- couldn’t go see Empire Strikes Back for the 2nd time.

 

Into my teens, I fielded questions and comments from peers and adults which became more and more annoying as time went by. Sick of having to explain or defend being adopted, I would simply walk away. My adoption is a personal story that I choose when to talk about and share. At 16, this thought process had the opposite effect as I was thinking more and more about the what, who, where, and why of how I got here so I asked my parents how they would feel if I was to seek out my biological parents. They said, like they always have— that they would support me. With knowing a search wouldn’t affect my parents negatively and because I didn't have any unresolved grief, abandonment issues or the burden like I was somebody’s trash, the thought to seek out any birth relative quickly left my brain because and simply; my parents ARE my real parents and my siblings ARE my real brother and sister. The only reason our family felt uncomfortable was because the D.S.'s of the world made us feel that way. The frustrations, complexities, difficulties, and joys that I have had in my life aren’t because I’m adopted— it’s because I’m human.

 

So. What does it feel like to be adopted? Blessed & Grateful. It’s all I’ve ever known.

 

 

 

(1)In 1960s Minneapolis, restrictive housing prevented Jewish and Black citizens from buying homes outside of north Minneapolis. The northside became a place where residents from different backgrounds cooperated, built friendships, and inter-married. By 1966, Minneapolis’ jewish mayor had promised change in the lack of opportunities for black residents, and by the July of 1967 the frustration resulted in violent protests citing discrimination and mistreatment by police and jewish business owners. It was during this time of unrest that I was conceived.