by Victoria Bruno ~ adult Korean adoptee
Am I right when I say that you signed up for a life long responsibility when you decided to become a parent? Was it not out of a desire to raise, support and love a child and become a family for the rest of your life? Then I ask you to never stop…
I’ve noticed that many of you are parents of young children. It seems to me that there are only a few of you who are parents of teens or adult children. Sincerely, I tip my hat to those here whose kids are adults!
TO EVERY TRANSRACIAL ADOPTIVE PARENT (TRAP) OUT THERE…never stop seeking to learn about race, identity, racism, adoption, etc and never stop trying to be an ally and find allies for your kid. They need you more than you know…especially after they’re “all grown up.”
I think there are many TRAPs who start off well & well-intentioned but who fall off. Like your bio parent peers who eagerly read “What to expect when you’re expecting” and check baby forums when they’re pregnant or have an infant or small toddler. They do all the right things for their first kid because it’s all new. Then their kid gets older and they get engrossed in their kid’s activities and maybe they add a 2nd, 3rd or 4th kid to the mix and life/school/extracurricular activities takes up every minute and they’re drained at the end of a day, praying fur a moment of rest and savoring a second of relaxation.
Bottom Line: Life gets crazy busy and they stop actively seeking resources because there isn’t enough time in the day or because they think they have the parenting thing down pat and are no longer insecure about how well they’re doing. Is the kid still alive? Good grades? Not in jail or pregnant at 14. Good job!
For TRAPs though, their kids become teens and maybe they start to drift as most teens do, or maybe you’re relationship is great and time just flies by because it does.
The point is, though, that when you’re in the process of growing up, it’s hard to be objective, thoughtful, insightful and analytical about your own experience…to instantly/simultaneously process your feelings and separate out identity stuff–Transracial adoptee (TRA) stuff v. Person of color (POC) stuff v. Adoption stuff v. Just plain old teen stuff. So most of us, I believe, only become more introspective when we’re exposed to more, away from home and have distance, find some community or experience a new trigger that pushes us there…to look, feel and examine.
For most, that’s college or the work world…when we’re considered adults and parents focus on our futures (school, jobs, regular adult things). But the truth is that we also need our TRAPs to be able to call up all the knowledge and wisdom they have culled through the years from forums like this that deal w/all the hard stuff. But you can’t really be there fully if the last time you touched the stuff was when we were 7. It’s NOT like riding a bike.
Most of us, I think, do the most hardcore soul searching when we are so-called adults. And that is when we really need to feel like we can talk to you, like you won’t be defensive, like you’re open to hearing things we feel embarrassed/ashamed/scared of feeling. That is when we need all the wisdom, perspective and strength that you have gained from continuously reading, learning and embracing this new world in which you decided to relocate when you signed on board…everything you’ve collected while we were doing the important job of growing up.
So please, don’t abandon us early! Don’t sell us short and don’t give up the power that immersing yourself in all of this wisdom and experience sharing forums like this give you. Don’t stop learning and growing to meet the ever-changing demands that being a TRAP entails.
Yes, perhaps those raising same/single race bio kids are able to do all the necessary parenting they need to do before their kids graduate HS, perhaps it’s all neatly wrapped w/a bow, but TRAs, I think, need more to continue to feel closely tied to their families when they start to do the adult exploration of who they are, where they come from and how to live in a racist world. If they can’t talk to you and feel like you’ll get it/try to get it/want to get it…or be able to listen and grow together…then you may grow apart. And no one really wants that.
So, for all of you who struggle daily w/the “meanness” you perceive here or anywhere else, as others have said, I beg you to bear w/it, argue, fight back in productive and positive ways, but most of all to sit with it, learn from it or ignore a person…whatever. Just don’t give up on the process or sticking your neck out there.
Because in so doing, you’re giving up on your kid, your future relationship and on creating a better world for TRAs and POC everywhere. If you can’t shoulder some of the discomfort or pain, you’re forcing your kid to bear it alone. We, TRAs and POC, can’t “leave group” or not login…for us it’s called everyday life. Please join us, stay with us, help us, love us through it all.
AGAIN, isn’t that what you proclaimed you’d provide when you signed those papers???