I am honored to welcome Hannah Wasserman, the first guest contributor to this ongoing conversation about adoption. I have known this amazing young woman since she arrived in the US over twenty-five years ago from her birth country, Korea. The opinions in this post are hers.
I WISH PEOPLE KNEW… by Hannah Wasserman
I wish people knew…I am just me.
Identity. /// What makes up a person’s identity, their parents, their siblings, their last name, their friends, their place of birth, their personality? How does one define him or herself? Throughout my life I have told people I WAS adopted. But am I “supposed” to say I AM adopted. I have tried not to think about saying AM or WAS and just let whatever word comes out of my mouth first be the one I use. But this has got me thinking lately. Yes I was adopted 28 years ago. I was adopted by two amazing parents. I am Korean-American. In my story I believe that saying was adopted suits me best because it happened in the past. I would not be the woman I am today if I had not been adopted. But today, in the present, I am just me. I am a daughter and a sister, just like anybody else. I share a bond with my brother and sister that any siblings would have. I think that even sometimes my family “forgets” that I was adopted. I remember one time my dad said “oh yeah when your mom gave birth to you,” meaning my mom and not my biological mom. I had to kindly remind him that mom didn’t give birth to me.
Last names are family history. Stories of where your ancestors came from. My last name is Wasserman. You can only imagine the confused looks I have gotten when I have introduced myself to people and they look at me and then think about my last name. How can your last name be Wasserman? You’re Asian. Yes I am. Names are important which is why my parents decided to keep my birth name in my name. It is a part of who I am, and really a part of who my family is because this is our story.
I wish people knew that just because I was adopted does not automatically mean that I am going to eventually adopt children as well. This is a question I’ve been asked by other adults.
I have obviously experienced firsthand how amazing and incredible and fortunate and life-changing adoption is. I have no idea where I would be today if it weren’t for my parents. I thank them for choosing me to be their daughter. I simply cannot imagine how difficult it was for my birth mother to make that choice to give up her daughter to another family, complete strangers, without knowing what would happen to her, if she would be loved and cared for and happy. I received all those things and much more. I have realized as I have gotten older that I could have literally ended up anywhere in the world and how different my life would have been if I had stayed in Korea, in foster homes, or if I lived in a completely different part of the world.
Adoption is a beautiful thing. In many cases, it allows a couple to become parents. My parents tell me that they needed me to start our family. My arrival created the family they so dearly wanted to be. Our family continued to grow when 18 months later my brother was born, and 6 years after that my sister was born.
I wish people knew that not every person who is adopted might feel the need to find/meet their birth family. I have had people ask me this question, usually when I first meet them:
“Don’t you want to meet your “real” family?”
First off, you mean birth family or biological family. Secondly why would I? I know that some adopted children may feel like part of their identity is missing, or that they want or need some sort of connection with their birth family and I completely understand that. However, for me I do not feel like a part of me is missing. Sure as I have gotten older I have noticed some things, personality traits that my brother and sister have that are the same as my parents, that I do not have. Does this make me curious if I have some personality traits as my biological siblings? Sure. But I do not need to, or have the urge to meet my birth family. They are complete strangers to me. Maybe that sounds harsh but for me it’s the truth, they are strangers and not my family.
Thank you for including me in this blog series. I will send more as thoughts come to me.
Thank you, Hannah! I look forward to future posts from you.
To read about how this blog series about adoption came about see yesterday’s post. If you are interested in being a guest contributor to this series, please use the contact form on my web site, or reply in the comments below.
Up next Thursday: Guest contributor Kathy, a mom, shares her joys and fears.