Imagine every time you look in the mirror, the thought that first comes to mind is, who are your biological parents? According to PBS, about 135,000 children are adopted in the United States each year, one out of those 135,000 children include me.
I was born in Busan, South Korea and was adopted at a young age. I flew to the United States when I was five months old and arrived at the Portland International Airport where I was given to two caucasion adults and an Asian brother. Many children don’t remember their life at that young of an age, I did not until I was shown my arrival video when I was much older.
Growing up, I did not understand that I was adopted. I knew that I did not look like my parents, but was not able to comprehend what being adopted meant.
As time went by and I was going through elementary school, my understanding intensified and I
realized that being adopted made me different. I had a really hard time accepting my difference as it was something I was not open about and could not hide. I was ashamed that I did not look like my parents: I was always uncomfortable bringing friends over, having my parents pick me up from school and walking around with them in public. Anything that dealt with me being out in public or someone seeing me, made me feel ashamed.
Being adopted and a minority, I have always felt different. I was raised in Lake Oswego, Oregon, where there is little to no diversity. Growing up in a white dominate city made me believe that having blonde hair, blue eyes and white skin was the cookie cutter definition of perfection. All my friends fit this “perfect” mold that I so desperately wanted to fit. Due to my complexion and being adopted, I felt out of place.
Aside from the perfect looks I thought were the ideal image, there was nothing more than me wanting to be with my biological parents and to not feel ashamed walking next to the parents I was given to.
As I write this now, I am 20 years old and have never felt more connected to my parents than ever. I used to be so embarrassed about the fact that I am adopted and that resulted in me pushing away from my parents. Now, I have a completley different outlook on adoption and embrace that side of me. I am very open and walk with my parents with my head held high.
Adoption is a beautiful thing that many people do not understand and have their pre-conceived judgements.
When I was younger and still to this day, the same response I get every time I say I am adopted is a shocked and surprised look and response. People do not know how to respond and a majority of the times they respond by saying “Oh I’m sorry” or “What happened?” The way people respond to me truly show that many individuals are not properly educated on adoption and have already formed judgements about the issue. Without the choice of adoption, many children would not get a chance of living a proper life. What would my life be like if I never got adopted? For me, I would have been abandoned by my young teenage biological mother in the streets of South Korea. I probably would have been fairly sick due to my mother being poor and having to hide me as I would be looked at as a disgrace. Teenage pregnancies are looked down upon in the Korean culture and most likely, my biological mother gave me up because she could not let her family know.
Without adoption, I would not be in the place I am currently at right now: a sophomore at California Lutheran University, social media curator for Hub101, and currently in the process of establishing my own media marketing business.
Families who decide to adopt are the same as any other family but at the same time are very different. I have a unique perspective on family that most people don’t and my parents really know the beauty of having a kid and knowing they saved two babies who could have been left on the streets. Adoption allows those special individuals and families to truly embrace what a family means. When someone hears the words mom or dad, they automatically think of their parents who are already assumed to be their biological mother and father. I used to think that too and that was why I was in such denial of being adopted and did not accept my parents to be my true parents.
Mom and dad means the individuals who take care of you, teach you their knowledge and wisdom, show you unconditional love and support, and will always be their for you. I have had many friends where their parents are divorced, or one of them is locked up in prison and consider their aunt or grandmother their mom. The words mom and dad have different meanings to people. The universal meaning is the biological parents but when you look more deeper, it is about the connection and how much they have been there with you. Without Tom and Dorothy, I would not be Tara Atwood, a strong individual who knows the true beauty of adoption.