Saturday, September 19, 2009

What No One Told Me About Adoption

I missed a "blog carnival" at Grown In My Heart with the topic "What No One Told Me About Adoption". OK, truth is I've never even heard of this blog or a blog carnival, but today when I checked in on "American Family", the post was fantastic. So I clicked along. Interesting stuff.

Of course, my experience with adoption is really different from those in the adoption triad. I'm not an adoptee or an adoptive parent or a first mother. I'm the wife of a transracially adopted man. But there are a whole lot of things that no one told me about adoption. We're on the front end of this movement to adopt transracially in some ways, maybe no one really had thought about it yet, and back in 1987 when I got married, there was no easy way for adoptee spouses to connect. Our experiences are probably very different anyway, but it's so good when we do connect to hear that in some ways, the journey is very much the same. So what do I wish I'd known?

Things I wish I'd known about being married to a TRA.

Race does matter, it just does. It's a part of identity and soul and how we all view the world.

As the white one, I'll never really understand what it's like to be a transracial adoptee. Never.

Coming to terms with his racial identity was the hardest thing my husband ever had to do, the pain was huge, bigger than huge and there was really nothing I could do but stand by and watch.

Gatherings for adult adoptees are dangerous places for committed relationships.

There is no support equal to that of other adult adoptees.

Having children who look like him has been a profound joy for husband. And for me.

Racism is everywhere. Everywhere.

Raising mixed race kids breaks your heart a little. Especially when they tell you that they feel like "freaks of nature". Even at Korean Culture camp, they don't fit in.

Looking like Keanu Reeves is a good thing for teenaged boys. Can you say "The Matrix?"

I wish someone had told me that I will never feel safe when my husband is in Asia. And did I mention he leaves for Korea tomorrow?

Celebrating Loving Day is very cool.

There is no support like knowing other spouses of transracial adoptees. And finding them is almost impossible.

We have a good life, we've built a good family. But my God, it was not easy, and for a while there it hurt so much that sometimes I had to breathe through it like labor pains. Sometimes I didn't even want to breathe through it.

We're off to buy trinkety gifts from Seattle for the people my husband will see in Korea. And we're going to try to stop picking fights with each other, which is what we always do before he takes a trip to Asia. It makes it easier for me to think about him coming home and telling me he wants a divorce. But he's not going to do that this time. I know he's not. We're a happy old married couple with crazy busy teenage boys and a nice little dog. We're so far past that crushing part of the journey it sometimes seems like it never really happened. But of course it did, and there's a bit of a PTSD kind of thing that happens when he heads off to Asia again. Maybe I'll do better this time. And maybe someday we'll even get to a point in time that it's not hard at all, that we just breeze right through. I hope so.

I really hope so.


ms. kitty said...

Thinking about you and loving you, Kari. Hope to meet your beautiful family someday.

pickel said...

You didn't miss the carnival. It's all weekend. Thanks for a totally different perspective.

MK said...

Wow...I have often thought about what it may be like for my children's spouses...then I felt like a freak for thinking of that. Although my children aren't TRA - they are in a different culture than their birth and adding in RAD...well, I hope that they find someone who can at least try to understand!

a Tonggu Momma said...

I love that you contributed such a different perspective to the carnival. Thank you so much. And I always loved this post by Kelly, another wife of a TRA.

Jae Ran said...

Thanks for linking to my blog, and as a Korean adoptee who has been married a long time (20 years and counting!!) I know that there were a lot of things my husband didn't know about what impact adoption would have on our relationship.

I've known so many relationships end after the Korean adoptee begins to 1) search for birth family, 2) meets other adoptees, or 3) begins to question his or her adoption.

Thanks for hanging in there during the rough patches. I am constantly grateful that my husband did the same.


Kari said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone! It really is a wild ride, this life.

Diane said...

The triad needs expanded to include your important voice. May your husbands next trip fill you with true peace and your pain be put behind you. Thank you so much for sharing.

*Peach* said...

Thank you for writing this important perspective. I know my husband has had those same frustrations you speak of, and it is such an important and lacking voice. Adoptee's are not islands, even though we sometimes feel like it, and we affect so many around us. It is part of the pain I've worked through that has finally allowed me to truly embrace relationships with less fear.
Bless your family, and thanks again for writing!

ben said...

You are a remarkable person for hanging in there with your husband. He may or may not show that appreciation now. But when he does, your relationship will be unbreakable. My name is ben and you commented on The Color of Family site.

The second half of that story is that I did find my family and I now speak fluent korean and pretty much got all my culture and image back.

But if he is searching for his family. It will bring some joys and some serious consequences as well. Just be there for him and eventually he will be content with who and how he is and most of all who is next to him. Then he will focus more on his future not so much his past.

Until he has that closure, there is no other agenda. But he might not get the closure he expected. So he will need you more than ever. But most importantly, please make sure you don't let him go to Korea by himself. There is no reason why you cant go with him. Insist on it. Please!

I married at 19 and was married for 8 years.

Kari said...

Thanks, Ben. He's on his way right now, so I can't go with him! But it's his third trip. The first one was the hardest on him. I wish I could be there, too. Even just being a tourist while he does his thing--I know how much he gets from just being Korean in Korea. It's a really good thing. But I wish I could just be there in case he needs to see someone who loves him through it all.

Thanks for sharing a little more of your story. I'm deeply happy for you that you found your family and that you were able to put some of the pieces back together. And I'm sorry for the pain of a lost marriage. Even the ones that should end hurt when they do.

Best wishes to you for a beautiful future, and thanks for your kind words for mine.