China Connections: Fearing the Adult Adoptee

[This piece was written for China Connections, a newsletter for the FCC in New England, in their most recent issue.]

‘Three core fears seem to drive the avoidant, defensive or hostile approach to interacting or communicating with adult transracial adoptees.’

I have been blogging at Harlow’s Monkey for a little more than two years. I began blogging as a way to connect with other adult adoptees, especially those who had been adopted transracially or internationally. I had no way of knowing that the majority of my readers would be adoptive parents. What started as a personal, rambling collection of thoughts about my experience as an adult Korean adoptee became an extension of what I’ve now come to terms with as my life as an Adoption Poster Child™.

My first official “job” as an Adoption Poster Child™ occurred when I was 16 years old, in the living room of an adoptive family and fellow church members. That day I sat with several adoptive parents of younger kids and answered questions about how I felt about being adopted. Since then, I’ve spoken with adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents at conferences, trainings, on panels and one-on-one. I’ve found most adoptive and prospective adoptive parents are eager to hear what I have to say about “adoption issues,” which means they want to learn about how to deal with issues of attachment, loss and grieving.

Talk with white adoptive parents about race and racism, however, and the walls go up.

For many years, I’ve seen first hand that most adoptive parents are afraid to talk to adult adoptees. While many adoptive parents breathe deep, swallow hard and plunge into the tough terrain of listening to adult adoptees, others become openly hostile and defensive. I have certainly experienced both reactions through comments I’ve received on my blog and personal e-mails from adoptive parents.

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