What I’m Grateful For this National Adoption Month
I love the month of November because for me, it’s a time to really reflect on the things for which I am grateful. I also love that National Adoption Month is the same month of Thanksgiving because the thing that is always on the top of my list of what I am most thankful for is my family! My family would not be possible without adoption.
I was adopted from South Korea when I was six months old. Three years later, my parents adopted another baby girl from South Korea. While we were growing up, my parents worked as social workers in a large group home, and I was always surrounded by children whose biological families had neglected and abused them. Some were able to find new families, and others aged out in that home. I grew up feeling so grateful for the loving, supportive family that I had. I never cared that they were not my biological family, as I had seen that biological families were not perfect either.
I met my husband during those years – he was a resident at that home and lost his mom at the age of 10. While she had done the best she could, his family was unable to care for him and his sisters for various reasons. He had been hurt by his biological family as well, and when we married, it was as if my family adopted him, too. We have now been married for almost 18 years, and we have three amazing children, ages 16, 14, and 3. For us, family members are the ones who come alongside you and remain present in the everyday. They accept you for who you are, love you unconditionally, and support you in life no matter the circumstance. For us, family does not have to be biological.
Adoption has always been a part of my story, but it has never defined me. It’s just a characteristic of my birth story, just as having a Cesarean section is a part of my children’s birth stories. A great illustration of this is one holiday when we were all together with our extended family, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Something got brought up about the time surrounding our adoption. My 10-year-old cousin’s eyes got so big, and she exclaimed, “YOU’RE ADOPTED?!?!” We all laughed so hard because it had never occurred to her that we were adopted, even though we were Korean American and they were all Caucasian. It so perfectly describes the part that adoption has played in my life. It’s present but not defining. Yes, my sister and I experienced some painful things related to adoption, whether it was a classmate making a snide remark or someone saying something insensitive, but as I am raising two teenagers, I have come to realize that life is hard and that growing up is painful for all kids. Family relationships are never perfect, whether families are biological or adopted.
As a social worker who has worked in the adoption field for the past 18 years, I never want to diminish those adoptees who have had different experiences and who have experienced tremendous loss and grief. That is why I am so thankful for National Council For Adoption, whose mission is to advocate for all those involved in the adoption process. As a small agency, we so appreciate NCFA’s willingness to listen and help us problem-solve. They provide vital research that guides us to help ensure that we are practicing ethical and healthy adoptions. So, during this National Adoption Month and the month of Thanksgiving, when I’m thinking of the things I’m grateful for, I want to say, “Thank you NCFA! I am grateful for you!”