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.
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.