Reflections on Adoption Day

 

It has been exactly 20 years as of September 16th, 2017 that I’ve been with my family. 20 years and a day ago, I met my parents for the first time. As far as I’m concerned, they have always and will always be My Parents.

Story Time:

I’ve been working in my university’s study abroad office which is also part of a larger office where many international students come and go to deal with various things. There are times where I work the front desk, so one day I was sitting there and a female walked in and had questions  about immigration for the international student side of the office.

While she was waiting on the answers to her questions, she turned to me and asked “Are you from China?”

“I am, yes,” I nodded.

She begins to speak Chinese rather quickly to which I was taken aback by, waited for her to finish, and politely told her that I didn’t speak Chinese.

“Oh how come?” She asked.

“Well I was adopted when I was thirteen months old, so I was raised here in Maryland.”

“The people who adopted you are white?”

“Yes.” Now, I found that to be a weird question which I have no clue what the look on my face was when I answered it. Yes, my parents are white. But they could have been any other race as well? And while, yes, they are people, not the word choice I would have used.

“So you don’t know your parents?”

I paused, again, taken aback by the phrasing of the question. “Well I don’t know my birth parents if that’s what you mean.”

She nodded, and thankfully someone came over to answer her questions about immigration before our little conversation could be continued.

The whole interaction left a weird taste in my mouth. Now, I understand that when others find out you’re adopted, their automatic first question is always “do you know your birth parents?” I’ve come to accept that this is a question I’ll have to keep answering forever. I’ve also come to (reluctantly) accept that there are times when my mom and I will be asked if we’re together or if we want separate checks when we’re out to lunch or dinner. Fine. We don’t look alike, I suppose it’s an honest mistake.

What I won’t accept is anyone trying to say my parents aren’t my parents. Yes, technically they’re my adoptive parents, but as far as I’m concerned, they’re my parents. 

Right This Way: Talking About Bandstand

To start with, I’m not usually someone who feels the need to see a show on Broadway more than once. A touring cast or production in my hometown, certainly. But to go back to New York to see a show I had already seen when there are news shows I could see instead? Not normally. That was until I saw Bandstand.

From the first time that I saw it, I knew it was a show who’s story was one that we needed to hear. Just after the end of War World II (September 2nd), six men return home, faced with trying to integrate into society. PTSD won’t become a term used for about 35 more years and society is unable to grasp how hard war has been on these men. Enter a national song competition and these six men come together to find comfort when they play music. Add to that a woman whose husband died in friendly fire during the war and how that will forever leave a mark on her.

Together, they use music to “let the guys who made it home know that someone out there has their back” and tell the country an honest account of what they went and are going through.

Now, the show already held a place in my heart after seeing it for the first time in May, but my grandfather, a WWII veteran, passed away June 23rd 2017 (the day the cast recording for Bandstand came out). I listened to the recording all day and almost everyday since it came out and I believe it’s helped me through the grieving process. To be honest, it’s given some of the songs a whole new meaning for me.

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My Grandfather

For example, “Right This Way” has the lines:

“he’ll say right this way
we reserved this just for you
you’ve been waiting for this day
it’s the least that we can do
let me take your bags my friend
you’ve been carrying those far too long
troubled times are at an end
and we’re waiting to hear your song
it’s a privilege sir, may i say?
right this way”

And while the song is quite literally talking about getting on a train to New York City, they’ve spoken volumes to me ever since hearing them on the 23rd.

When I heard that Bandstand was closing on September 13th, I knew that I needed to see it one last time before it ended. With some convincing, perseverance, and what i’m assuming, persuasiveness, my parents and I were NY bound to see it mid August.

The choreography and lighting only add more layers to the emotional journey already presented through the actors. The ensemble helps build this community in the show, playing a key role the entire time.

Joe Carroll, Brandon James Ellis,  Nathan James Hopkins, Geoff Packard, and Joey Pero (Original time seeing the show: Alex Bender) all tell their own character’s unique stories, showing just how different experiences can be. Laura Osnes was stunning as ever, the emotion coming through each song in a way that everyone can relate to what she’s singing about. And finally, Corey Cott leads this show, giving one of the most powerful and emotional performances I’ve seen in a long time.

This show has touched me in more ways than I could have ever imagined.

Check out Got Your 6 for more about supporting and empowering veterans.