I Wish People Knew… part 4 “No adoption looks the same.”

I Wish People Knew… by Hannah Wasserman

–continued from an earlier post.

I wish people would realize that not everything is based on a person’s appearance.

More specifically, I wish people knew family has nothing to do with appearance. I have had people think that my brother is my boyfriend and that my sister is my daughter, and yet I look nothing like either of them.

I grew up in a small town where there wasn’t a lot of diversity. I realize that even though I knew I looked different from all my friends, peers, and family I never felt different. I was just a normal teenager trying to get through school; just a normal sister who loved her family immensely and fought with her brother and sister; just a normal girl growing up trying to find her way in life just like everyone else.

College was another story. 

Initially, when suddenly there were other Asian American men and women around–and because I had been so used to being the only Asian person around–my reaction was to feel like everyone else shouldn’t be there; that it was only supposed to be me. (!) Ironically, this is when I began to compare myself with others. I became very aware of how I looked, and how I looked to other people. I know this sounds ridiculous. I hated that I was judging others, but judging them for what…looking like me?

Thankfully, this phase passed. Eventually I became less and less aware of how others looked, and less self conscious about how others might perceive me. The world is full of all types of people from different backgrounds and I AM one of those people. We should all try and judge a little less, and accept a little more.

I have learned that that when people try to understand things that are foreign or different than themselves, in order to make sense of it, they want to put a label on what you are, or what they assume you are.

I want people to know that families today are complex and no family looks the same, no adoption looks the same. People need to realize that there is no right way to be a family.

I wish people would ask more questions. I am a person who is completely happy to talk about my adoption and life experiences with others who are interested. I would rather someone ask me questions, than make assumptions. Asking questions is how we learn about people who are different from us and accept one another. Adoption is more common than you may think and it deserves to be talked about to children and adults.

ps. I LOVE the last sentence in BABIES COME FROM AIRPORTS:

“Babies come from love.”

I am incredibly thankful for, and inspired by guest contributors like Hannah who are willing and eager to tell their stories.  Look for more thoughts from Hannah in posts to come. 

If you are a parent, child, or sibling of adoption interested in sharing your thoughts, use the contact form on my web site or leave a message in the comments below. Here’s a link to the first post in this series which explains the details.  

Stop by next week for a guest post from Tess– age eleven.   

One Response to “I Wish People Knew… part 4 “No adoption looks the same.””

  1. Barry Wasserman

    Reading my daughter Hannah’s answers on this blog to questions I’ve never asked her has led to some interesting and intimate conversation between us. It’s really been great.

    Being a child in any family has its own unique qualities and challenges. Being adopted into a family adds a particular wrinkle to that experience, and being a looks different international adoptee adds another wrinkle to that wrinkle. A sentence I heard when we were first applying to adopt has stayed with me all these decades and was very comforting at the time. We were attending a pre-adoption presentation put on by our international adoption agency. The speaker was an social worker who was herself a 30-something Korean-born adoptee to an American family. Her talk covered some of the unique challenges that an international adoptee and his or her family will typically have to deal with. Perhaps like the other would-be parents in the audience, I found her very straight-talk to be both interesting and more than a bit anxiety provoking. So her last sentence washed over me as both a surprise and a helpfully calibrating perspective. She said, “ …But I’ll close with this: If the hardest thing in life that your child has to deal with is that she was adopted, then she will be a very lucky child.”

    Reply

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