To all of the parents out there thinking about adoption or in the midst of raising a child, this is for you.
More than 30 years ago, my parents decided to adopt after several unsuccessful attempts to have a third child. I use the loose term “adoptive” parents in that my parents adopted me, but they are just my parents – my real parents, the only ones I have ever known.
I want to share what my parents did right with my adoption, as well as with navigating the waters of parenthood in general.
Here’s to you, Mum and Dad, who, lovingly, I must say:
1. Taught me when to laugh it off
Yes, I look different from others, and others look different from me. There will always be “where are you from?” comments, and I’ve learned when to laugh it off. Growing up, my brothers peeled off “Made in China” stickers from their toys to place on the back of my shirt. I laughed, even though I am Korean. As a family, we all learned when to laugh.
2. Taught me when NOT to laugh – and that the best comeback is an informed one
Childhood teasing and bullying are inevitable, no matter your background, size or appearance. As a child, my parents prepared me for questions and teasing scenarios that eventually happened, and I was equipped with ready-made comebacks.
“Joe, I don’t look different just because I don’t look like you.” Or, “I don’t look like my parents because I am adopted. I’m proud to be Korean.”