August 5th, 2013
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JBH-07-19-08I noticed that in the “Transracial/Transcultural Adoption” section of this website, most of the posts are from the adoptive parents. Well, I’m here to change that.

This is my first post to Adoption.com. I’m glad to be part of the blogging team, as I’ve been wanting to re-dedicate myself to blogging about adoption. You see, I was blogging through my own site called Adoption Fusion. But through a series of life events, I had drifted away from blogging. Not that I ever stopped thinking about adoption issues…I just stopped writing about them. Until now.

I have a strong belief that the transracial adoptee voice must be heard, and as you read my posts, you’ll see that I’m “pro-adoption” but I’m also “pro-education.” That’s why it’s important to hear from a transracial adoptee. Families who have brought a son or daughter into their home who has a different skin color than the parents have an obligation to ask questions, seek out resources, and LISTEN to those who have gone before them in this amazingly complex journey of adopted life. You’ll be glad you did.

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Just a bit of background: I’m a Japanese-American, domestically-born, Philadelphia-raised, closed adoption adoptee. I grew up in a family of five with two parents, an older brother and a younger sister (both born of my adoptive parents). Yep, I was the middle child. And adopted. Oy. My mother’s family are recent immigrants from Norway, so I was raised with a strong Norwegian cultural background. Lots of Norwegian crafts around the house and a garland of Norwegian flags around our Christmas tree every year. I grew up in Quaker schools (I did mention it was Philadelphia, right), which is by nature an inclusive environment.

Even with these privileges, I still wrestled through my identity – especially not having anyone around me that looked like me. Intellectually, I knew that I was Asian, but mentally I didn’t feel Asian. So when it came time to fill out standardized tests and college applications, I had to ask my father, “Which box do I check?” When he told me to check “Asian/Asian American” it turned out to be a stepping stone to a pivotal moment in my life.

I was invited to a pre-orientation program for incoming students of color at my small women’s college. I was all too happy to arrive on campus early. However, I never realized I would come face-to-face with what it meant to claim my Japanese heritage: it was there that I saw a documentary about the Internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. I though to myself, “If I had been born then, I would have experienced the same fate.”

Throughout college, I immersed myself in all-things Japanese but studying East Asian Studies, participating in the Asian Students Association, and after graduation i was able to return to my “homeland” Japan. I worked and lived there for twelve years. I met and married my husband (from Minnesota) and both of our sons were born there. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Now that I have returned to the U.S., I work full-time in education but my real passion is to be a voice who speaks out for transracial adoptees so that adoptees know they are not alone and so adoptive families can listen and learn from us as they raise their child(ren). Thank you for reading – and I hope my posts are useful ones.

3 Responses to “Listening to a Transracial Adoptee”

  1. fenghua says:

    This is really helpful, and i would like to know more. My husband and I just adopted our foster daughter, and we are a tri-racial family: my husband white, Me, a Chinese immigrant and foreign service officer, and my daughter black. She is our only child and gets more than 100% of our attention and love. We try not to spoil her though. I always wonder how my daughter will feel when she grows up. She will be exposed to African American influences naturally and intentionally. We will tell her about her bio family when she is old enough to understand, and will even encourage her to reach out to her bio family when she is old enough to defend herself. We would like to hear adoptees’s experiences so that we will try to avoid the pitfalls of raising her so that she will not turn away from us when she grows up. I would love to hear from you. Thank you.

  2. fenghua says:

    I voted one star by mistake. I just pointed a star, turned out that was 1, even though I intend to vote 5. Pls someone correct it. Thanks.

  3. Jenny H says:

    Fenghua: Thanks for posting a comment. Are there any specific questions you would like me to address? Please let me know. I will keep posting my experiences – but please remember, I am only one voice. My experiences cannot and do not represent ALL adoptees.

    It sounds like you are keeping the eyes of your mind open – which is the best kind of parenting, in my opinion. I am a parent of two sons myself (both biological). How old is your daughter? Insofar as talking with your daughter about her adopted heritage, I would advise to take your cues from her and keep in mind that the life journey as an adoptee is HER journey to experience. I can elaborate more in other posts!

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