Last night my daughter had her Senior Prom. She’s been dating her boyfriend, Brandon, for about a year. They fell in love last summer during a trip to Japan they both went on with other students from their school. Brandon is a great kid, and he also happens to be a Korean-born adoptee.
So, before prom began, parents came to our house to take pictures. I had the opportunity to spend some time talking with his mother. Brandon is the middle of three children, each adopted from different regions in Korea. His mother isn’t aware of my personal views, only that I am an adoptee and a first mother. Brandon is a talented musician, a drummer, and he writes his own music. He was drawn to music without his parents urging because they didn’t and couldn’t have known themselves. His mother and I were discussing this incredible talent, and I saw it as a perfect segue into an issue I’ve been thinking about recently. I explained to her that, as adoptees, we don’t have the map for our future that children have when they are raised by their natural parents. Children are given this map as a way to see areas where they may excel or have a genetic bent toward certain subjects, trades, or skills. Without this parental/familial model, adoptees are left to figure it out on their own- we often flounder through our teenage and college years, trying to figure out what it is we are really good at, or what we want to be when we grow up. After explaining to her this map scenario I asked her if they had put him in drum lessons at a young age. She said no. She said he didn’t need the map, he did it on his own. She made it sound like he was literally crawling across the floor towards drumsticks, picking them up and making sense of it before he could even walk. This is so profound to me, that he knew because it’s just part of who he is. Most adoptees aren’t so lucky. It’s like we have these untapped parts of our lives that could change our entire trajectory, our future, but we just. don’t. know. It’s yet another reminder for us that we are different and it reiterates the importance of genetic ties to family and who we are.
I’ve avoided much talk about adoption with Brandon. I know he has moments where he struggles with it. I know he loves his family, but I also know he wonders, like most adoptees do, about who he is and where he came from… for some reason, I just can’t ‘go there’ with him. But, he knows that I know, and I know that he knows. It’s like a current surrounds us, bringing us silently together in understanding.