Things to NOT say to this transracial adoptee

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The day I became an American citizen!
All views are my own. Each transracial adoptee (click for definition) is different. However, after moving around a time or 2 or 10, One of two things inevitably happens.
  • You get to know me well enough you see photos of my family and realize, biologically, we look very different
  • You are getting to know me and when I say I am from South Dakota and you say, no where are you really from? (Which is a whole different post for a different reason, but wanted to address one side here)
Which usually leads to me telling people I am adopted and my parents are white and I was adopted from South Korea because otherwise other conclusions have been made:
  • My Mom cheated on my Dad with a Korean man
  • They try and force a biological connection by saying ..”I mean you so look like your Dad’…Really? My Dad is German? But my Dad is 60 and has plenty of hair and looks mid-50's, so okay I am going to take that as a compliment ;)
SO. Over the years, here are some phrases to at least avoid saying to this transracial adoptee. Of course this depends on context too. If I know you, I’m willing to explain more, if you’re doing it because you’re looking for information, not because you’re interested in being my friend…This is a whole different type of reaction. The type of reaction that led to the backbone to write this post.

3 common themes, phrases, and the like, to not say to transracial adoptees, or at least this one, if we are not homies. Please note that responses are highly saturated in sarcasm:

Did you know your real parents/Do you want to meet your REAL parents?
OH you mean the people that raised me for 18 years?! Yes, I call them Mom and Dad or you might know them as D and J. Yes, I even LIVED with my REAL parents!!! How crazy is that?! It’s so weird when you are adopted and you know, a couple raises you for 18 yrs (let’s be real, they’re still raising me at 27) and they are your REAL Mom and Dad!!!! Just like I have REAL friends, not my adopted friends. OR I had my REAL teachers, not my adopted teachers. Crazy right?! Just like I am their REAL daughter, not they have 1 son and their adopted daughter.

Where are you REALLY from? But you’re not REALLY from South Dakota…Are you REALLY American?
I know…I mean…I realized I wasn’t a naturalized citizen until I was 4, but from the time I was 4 months old – 22 years old, I must not REALLY be from South Dakota. Just like I wasn’t educated, raised, or lived in the same area for most of my life. I MUST BE FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE!!! I may have been born on foreign land, but I am an American and it’s the only nationality I’ve ever truly known. So, yes, I am “originally” from South Dakota. Yes, I am an American. 

*This was just recently on a date a guy told me, "Yeah, but you're not really from here"...YEAH AND YOU'RE ABOUT TO NOT REALLY BE SITTING PASSENGER AFTER I MAKE YOU TUCK AND ROLL...That didn't really happen, I just thought that in my head.

When I leave my medical history blank…and someone says,”Sometimes it’s just better you don’t know!”…
Says the person who knows their family medical history…family history…and typically entire ancestry…We will just leave it there and give my keyboard some oxygen.

I know, I know. Salty. And the rebuttles or ignorant comments to ensue in my inbox...or phone...

What about grace? Christian's give grace, right? Some people just don't know better! What about multiracial people, they have to explain themselves too!...

All valid points. I wrestle with this when I get upset, but this is my narrative and I am always happy to chat grace, patience, and those who also feel the need to explain themselves because of their identities, but that is not my focus right now. 

Believe transracial adoptees the first time they tell their story. We may have been Korean, growing up in South Dakota with our REAL parents.

College Graduates of 2016

Sunday, May 1, 2016

I love college students.
Dear College Graduate, Class of 2016!

Before the circus starts where you will have to rehearse what to say when your family and friends ask you, "What are you doing after college?". Before you have to entertain everyone at your parties and say goodbye to your friends, I wanted to take a minute and acknowledge your accomplishments because you have several, and some last minute encouragement before the hustle really starts.

I know you are scared. You're scared your friendships will change and they will, let them. You're scared you won't make it, you will, put in the effort and let it happen. You're scared you don't know what you want to do with your life, and you won't, and that's okay because you don't need to know all of your life when you have a whole lifetime to figure it out along the way.

I can't believe I was so lucky to be involved at the beginning of your student leadership journey (and for some of you it was on the first day of my career)! Lucky you to be my guinea pig...I'd still slap your eye lashes ;)

I have too many favorite memories. Too many favorite moments. So much life lived when you live and work together. From asking you a million questions, analyzing your personality assessments, watching you navigate classes, relationships, conflict, your first heart break, your first failure, and in the same regard, overcoming a challenge you never thought you could tackle, and landing your next leadership role or job...I've seen you cry, upset, overly joyful, hyper, and have a laughing attack that made me scared you were on something other than sugar. I've yelled at you for disappointing me. You've called me out on my shit for disappointing you. We've been through a challenge or two...and I loved it. All of it. Because it has led to this...

Less frantic 2am phone calls because you know how to deal with crisis. Less conversations where my office couch could be a swimming hole from the tears you sobbed. Less of this and that, because you started to use your experiences and knowledge to create your own path, mentor others, and make your own decisions without the approval of others.

All of a sudden you are interviewing for jobs post college, asking me how to do taxes, and adding me to linkedin instead of snapchat. Even our conversations start shifting. We no longer obsess about your college leadership track or your roommate and we start talking about what you want out of life, if you want a partner and children, and what is your purpose in this world. We slowly shift from supervisor/student leader or mentor/mentee into friends. Oh how nostalgic-sweet that moment is, but mostly sweet.

Mostly sweet because I know you have created a self-worth that is more than your career. You understand college was about what you will do with your education, not just getting a degree.

The world is a better place because of you and what you are and will do. Not many people take the time to be kind, reflect and take action, and are socially aware like you. I have learned more from you than from the books I've read, the music I've listened to, the Ted talks I've watched. I have been your student all along - learning from all the wisdom that illuminates from within you. I will always be in your village, cheering you on or a listening ear when you're struggling with your first year out of college.

So in this minute, don't worry about what happens when you walk across that stage. Take this minute and tell your family thanks, give your best friend a hug, celebrate that you did it. You will never have a moment like this because you will never be who you are right now, in this phase ever again. You may experience the same emotions, but the circumstances will be vastly different.

I love you.
I am proud of you.
You have everything it takes to wholly prosper.

I can't wait to watch you graduate and celebrate you.


- Jayme

P.S. If you don't keep in touch, you know I'll hunt yo ass down.

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