I was born in Sapporo, Japan and both my adoptive parents were Japanese by ethnicity, but they were residents and citizens of the United States. My adoption started when I was maybe seven to eight months old, but paper work and according to legal documents and things, it didn't actually get settled until I was maybe two and a half or three. When they adopted me, they traveled to Japan and looking at their passports, they made many numerous trips back and forth, but their home was in Honolulu, Hawaii. All of the traveling was done first to establish connection, because International adoptions, I think at that time really ramping up with many Asian nations and between Asian nations and the United States. And so, my parents were first establishing the fact that they were interested in adopting. I don't know if that consists of just interviews or going to talk to agencies or different representatives in Japan. But a lot of those trips, I imagine were before any of the actual adoption papers were signed or settled.
It was an interesting process, just very casual references by my mom. I have documentation: a diary that my birth mother kept about how everything went and different milestones of mine. When my teeth came in, just very normal things that I have a window into and I got to keep just because of the way my parents went through this process. I have actual paperwork that says, these are the dates that things actually happened. And got coded in the courts and things like that. It was it was interesting because it's always been known to me that I was adopted. It was never a secret. It was in my baby albums, like it was literally a paste up of like the actual court documentation recording the fact that there was this female child born on such and such a date adopted by so and so. It was so matter of fact that I never really gave it a lot of concrete hard thought. Just because, I don't know, I didn't analyze what it was – like, it's in paper in black and white right in front of me.
My mother would have doubts because, eventually my parents did get a divorce. So, I think, you know, for my mother struggling as a single parent, she had more self-doubt, I would think, and this is me psychoanalyzing my mother and she's not around for me to question anymore, but she would have more doubts about her validity being my mother than I did because she had the memory of the before and meeting my birth mother and all of the things after. So, her viewpoint was very much the transition through it all. You know, having not been my mother clearly and having to go through this very specific legal and financial strain, in order to adopt me. And for me, to me, that's just like, it is a fact, but I have no emotional connection to that part of things. So, to me it was very black and white. She’s my mom.
I never had anything beyond an academic curiosity about [my bio parents] as just, you know, regular everyday people that you might meet on the street. But I never made this great connection to either of my biological parents as being somebody, you know as people I wanted to have in my life. I had zero curiosity and I look back on that and I wonder about that as an adult. But as a child, I never questioned it. Like, it was just not a thing for me to even wonder about it out loud in front of my parents. It was just so much part and parcel of my growing up. And I'm a pretty literal… like gray areas make me uncomfortable. I like order, organization, and lists. And so, it was just like that is that. It's a fact and it's immutable. And my parents were the people who raised me, and I couldn't see a different way around it.
I think there are a couple of people I've met through my life were also adopted and knew it, but didn't have very much connection and they had a much greater curiosity. Kind of similar to what I would see in the media of the made for Lifetime TV movies that they would make about adoptees, things like that. Which I know I never identified with but, you know, they would show that journey and that trek and curiosity and the desire to find out more about that. And again, I absolutely cannot I can't find that in myself and I can't identify with that particular story.
The portrayal of adoption stories in the media often follow two types of tracks that I noticed. I don't go out seeking stories about adoption necessarily, it sort of was the Lifetime movie of the week. One of them being the portrayal of someone finds out, it was closed, it was not a fact of their life until they stumble upon something that suddenly reveals the fact to them later in life, so like a teenager or an adult, that they were adopted and then there's this whole questioning of the family that they were raised in and the whys. The other track is, they find out that they're adopted at some point either before or after but then something sets them on the track to really dogging and finding out about that initial fact of their adoption and their original birth family to illuminate something that's happening in their life. Whether it's medically, some personality trait, like they've never fit in with their family and this suddenly explains why. And so, they're going to go on this quest. So, it follows sort of that quest. Like it's a trope. All sort of fall into a very similar vein. So, all of these stories that I had seen always had to come, to some type of conclusion, whether happy or tragic. And it always just seem to negate the fact that we're, well, there isn't an ending to the story, I guess until you die. And how you view yourself and where you came from… Yes, they feed into your life, and they are a part of you, but they shouldn't necessarily define you, and then that's all of it. There's just so much more and you continue to write your own story and so therefore be hopeful in that that there is a continuation and you get to do those choices. You own those choices (or you don't own them, I guess that’s part of your story too). But again, all of those portrayals in the media just wanted to close a loop and structurally, there's no way for them to just follow it all the way through.
Everyone's adoption journey and experience is so unique because there's no way that you could, you know, say that all of them are like this if they're closed and all of them are like that if they're open and there's so many gray areas in between. All of the different experiences are just as valid.