I have written a lot about adoption and adopting yourself through acceptance. One of the hardest things for any adoptee to handle is being told “that isn’t your real family.” Some might balk at this actually happening in real life… because how much of an asshole can a person be? I’ll tell you. People can be the biggest assholes and say the most inconsiderate things. For many it is due to ignorance or a lax tongue. For others they say these things to hurt you intentionally.
I have had things like this said to me. The last time someone said this to my face they got punched in theirs. There are some things you just don’t say to people and we all have our triggers. For some they are racially motivated and for others they are aligned with their life choices. The thing about adoption is that NONE OF US chose to be given up. If you know of an adoptee that was sat down and given a choice please let me know and I’ll edit this post immediately. I’ve never met a single person that opted out of their family and decided on their own to be adopted.
The article I linked above is making the rounds in the adoption circles and groups I am a part of. I don’t normally interact much with adoptee groups, but I do like to know what the current topics and issues are. The conflict for me is that each adoptee is their own story and their life becomes the story. Because of that fact I find it overwhelmingly hard to interact and try to bond with other adoptees even though we all have an underlying sense that we belong to a special group. The differing sides to the adoption debate and the different views on adoption as a whole keep me from really jumping in and joining any of these groups. I have my own opinions on adoption based on my life and my experiences.
The reason most of us are so upset by what was said by the sports announcer is because it shows the carelessness and ignorance surrounding adoption and adoptees. In many ways it is the same attack made on immigrants when people tell them they aren’t really “American” even though they have lived here their whole life. Take that emotional topic and exponentially increase it tenfold. That is how much adoptees care about this subject because it is close to all of our hearts. Many of us have had a stranger, friend, ex-friend, roommate, or even a family member carelessly smash our confidence with some innocuous statement they didn’t think fully through. The problem is that while it is a passing remark for the doer, it is a stab in the heart to an adoptee.
We spend our whole lives working to be accepted. We spend an equal amount of time working to accept ourselves. To have some ignorant asshole tell us that we don’t truly know who we are or “you aren’t really a Cushman are you” is equal to a slap in the face. It is even more than that, you basically just went in time and kicked the younger me while I was in the orphanage and told me “no matter what you will never belong.” Remember that next time you talk to an adoptee and decide to tell them they aren’t really part of the family they have grown up with. Words do hurt and can last a lifetime.
Jason C. Cushman
Ahn Soo Jin