An Adoptee’s Plea to All TRAPs . . . please listen

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???

19 responses to “An Adoptee’s Plea to All TRAPs . . . please listen

  1. Thank you. This was an incredible post. I am so grateful for the voices that push me towards being a better parent. Because you’re right – this is the choice I made when I choose to become their mother.


  2. Thank you for this post. I want nothing more than to be there for my children through every part of their journeys. I will continue to read the hard stuff and learn from those like you whose voices matter most. Thank you for not completely giving up on us APs. Sometimes we need to hear that message, too. 🙂

    I am glad this forum is here.


  3. Good post: a good reminder that, just because it might be going well for ME, it may not be going well for her.


  4. Great reminder. Your message would have been easier to read without so many acronyms though. But message received nonetheless.


  5. Beautifully written once I found out I am a TRAP…I too want to be there for my children as they navigate through the teenage and adult years.
    Thank you


  6. Thank you for writing this post. As another mother said, it’s good to be reminded that our work as parents continues throughout life. When my daughter was little, I thought it important to integrate Chinese holidays and culture and toys into our daily lives, attend FCC events, and stay connected to the 7 families in our China adoption travel group. In the pre-teen and teen years she felt aged-out of FCC and not so interested in China, but her link to her “China cousins” remained strong and is still even tho the girls are all in college. We’ve been back to China twice, even visited her Welfare Institute and my daughter knows I would support her if she ever wanted to search for siblings or birth parents. Keeping open lines of communication between us is still vital. I suspect there are things she hasn’t wanted to share (in our racist country, how can there not be?) From what I’ve read of your blog, you are doing a great service for all of us transracial families — it’s easy to forget that we are part of that community. Our 2-person family experience has been our norm for over 19 years. As my mother once said to me when I was in my forties, you never stop being a parent and your adult child is still your child for life.


  7. This post was amazing. It was encouraging to me as an adoptive parent. There are so many sides to the journey that we, as AP’s have to take in. Add all of the sides that our precious kids have to experience, and it is overwhelming at times. We long to see the viewpoints and perspectives of adult adoptees, we want to know how to do this better, with more understanding and compassion. Yet at times I feel like nothing I do, say, or feel will make a difference, when I read the viewpoints of adult adoptees. It does leave one feeling a bit hopeless at times. As if the adoptive parent did a horrible thing by bringing the child into a family of another race or another country. BUT, it is no reason to give up. My thought has always been that yes, our daughters may deal with anger (and have), fear, insecurity, frustration, racism, disconnection, and all the other myriad of emotions this journey brings, but at least they will not have to deal with it alone. Even if they had been left in their home country, in the orphanage until they aged out, they would’ve had to deal with most of these feelings. The difference now is that they will deal with it in the context of a deeply loving family who want to help, guide, listen, and love. I’m praying one day they can see this for themselves. Until then, thank you for this post. It’s one of the best I’ve read from the heart of an adult adoptee and I am inspired and encouraged to continue doing what we have been doing for the rest of their lives.


    • I’m glad this post inspired you. Please continue to seek out the adult adoptee voice. We have been through much of your kids have yet to face. I can tell how much you strive to be the best parent you can be, and I think preparing yourself through adult adoptees experiences can only make you better.


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