What's in the Future?

This time of year always makes me nostalgic. When my children end one school year and move up to the next, I become more aware than even at their birthdays how fast they're growing, maturing, inching closer to independent lives. The end of every school year means they're one step nearer to being out in the world on their own, to being adults.

Our son will be a senior next year and then will be off to college, followed two years later by our daughter. I know from my own experiences that college will be a turning point, a time during which our children will turn their focus out toward the world instead of in toward our family.

I wonder what lies ahead, for them and for our family?

The college years can be a time during which a young adult's attitudes toward adoption take shape. Away from the cocoon of home and family, the college years provide an environment in which young people can speak freely about their experiences, perhaps share the feelings of longing for their first families that they felt uncomfortable sharing with their adoptive parents. They will meet others, too, adopted and not adopted, who will add new points of view, some of which may be a rude awakening from the protected world that has been built for them.

The college years will also be a time for them to draw their own conclusions. I would be lying if I said I wasn't afraid that, as our children grow to understand the political ramifications of intercountry adoption, they might pull away, rejecting the notion that white parents and Korean children make an appropriate family. I'd be lying, too, if I said it wouldn't bother me if my husband I became marginalized in our children's adult lives, a source of embarrassment, mockery or shame.

I hope we've helped our children develop a strong sense of who they are, strong enough to withstand the curiosity of others. Should people question the validity of our family, I hope our children find an answer in the love and respect we've had for each other. I hope they'll always be able to say with pride that they are the children of their Korean families, our children, Korean Americans, individuals.

But it still may be that someday our children will separate themselves from us, rejecting us and the dynamics of our family. If this is what awaits us in the future, I pray we find the grace to accept it, as it will break our hearts. But most of all I pray that no matter what conclusions our children reach about adoption and our family, they’ll have the strength and confidence to live loving and satisfied lives. Because at the end of the day, it's never been about us; it's been about them.


suz said…
beautiful post. honest. real. love that about you.

i suspect you have discussed these things (or will) with your children. i think that will be critical to how they handle it. resepcting them, trusting them, allowing them to feel, think, explore these things will prove to them you value them regardless and i would think that would only deepen your relationship
Mama Nabi said…
Margie, I have a feeling that you will never be marginalized in your children's eyes. I have met my share of adoptees who sever their ties, in bitterness, with their adoptive parents who had in the past marginalized their birth rights and culture, and, as a result, marginalized the adoptees themselves. I don't think you're doing that... at all. I think they'll realize, as adults if not already, that, for you, it had been about them - and deeply appreciate that - and love you for it.
This is what it's about. I think you should write a book!

I don't think your children will pull away from you because your attitude appears to be inclusive: of their heritage, their other family, etc.

"It's never been about us." This is the key.
joy said…
Developmentally it is healhty for them to pull away somewhat at this stage in the game, although it hurts I know, my son will be a junior next year.

It is also developmentally normal to come back super obnoxiously smart freshman year of college. That is always fun, with the feeling that no one you left behind understands how educated you've become, I have already become part of the establishment in my son's eyes, but he is trying to educate me for what it is worth.

But I personally have never known an adoptee who has severed ties with adoptive parents save for one case that is extreme and had to do with mental illness. I have known bio kids who did. I think in a certain way adoptees tend to me more compassionate and concerned with their parents, as they leave the nest.

Being an adoptive parent must add a layer to what all parents feel as their children forge indpendent adult identities, but psychologically you are their mother, adoptive parents are the ones we think of fortunately or unfortunately when we need money, or reassurance, or help with the laundry, mom stuff.

And remember questions about one's origins are not a rejection, but I think you know that.

And it is OK for some of it to be about you too, one of the things about my mom that I appreciate so much is that she does have needs, and nows how to get them met, it makes me see her as strong, and gives me more freedom to be who I want to be.
michele said…
Regardless of what happens in the future, you've led a groundwork for them to lead successful lives. As long as you remain honest with them, and try to provide honest dialogue - your fears will hopefully never come to pass. You've already given them a richness to their lives. They're bound to see that sooner or later.
Maybe they will pull away for a time, but I know they will pull closer in the future. I love your attitude and the true love for your children that comes across in your posts.
Margie said…
Thanks, everyone, for the good thoughts. I guess the best thing is for my husband and I to keep talking with our kids, keep the lines of communication open - and to make sure they always know that we respect them for who they are. And I guess that's all we can do as parents! Thanks again!!
I do know adoptees who have severed ties with their parents, mostly because their parents probably shouldn't have been parents to being with.

Awhile ago I was talking with a social worker at an adoption agency and asking her what sort of advice my parents might have been given about connecting with my birth culture when I was adopted. She said none. She said the common attitude at the time was just that "love will conquer all." Well, I think Korean adoptees have made that clear by now that that's not what it takes; we need more than just love. We need a connection to our birth culture, we need knowledge of where we came from and what that means, and we need discussions and education about what it means to be a minority in the United States, and what it means to be a multi-racial family.

And if you make the effort to do those things then I think you're much better off than a lot of adoptive parents before you. My parents didn't, and I still love them and I haven't severed ties with them, I just wish things mighta been a little different.
Margie said…
KAB - thanks for your comment, I'm glad to hear your thoughts on this. I agree that adoption agencies have left the matter of helping KADs connect with their culture to chance. My opinion is that this is non-negotiable, that a-parents don't have the right to choose whether or not their children are connected with their community, culture and country. But this isn't the prevailing attitude yet, although I'm seeing hopeful signs.

Your blog is great, best of luck with your wedding plans!
I think it's normal and good for college and even hs kids to pull away from their parents some. They usually come back when they find the balance, if the family has been healthy and loving as your certainly is. My oldest (bio) son is going off to college this year (in two months *gasp*) and we are feeling the separation pull. I guess it will be more extreem and maybe more painful for the younger adopted ones, when their time comes. Cross cultural makes it harder still. But I don't think you need to worry. You've done all you can and a fine job at it!

My SIL adopted from Korea 20 years ago and did nothing to teach her daughter Korean culture. She went off to college by tearing herself away from mom's grip, having never even eaten Korean food or met another Korean person. Mom always told her she was just American. She is at a college with a large Asian population and it has been a shock. She is in a struggle and she is still looking for the balance... mom did nothing to help her find her way. It breaks my heart. But my neice is a smart cookie and has a heart of gold so I think she will come through it OK. I wish it didn't have to be so hard for her though!

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