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FOUNDED BY A GROUP OF EIGHT, YOUR ONE WORLD HOSTS ERIN, ANGELA GEE, JAZZ, JEANNETTE LOAKMAN, JENNIFER BAO YU 'PRECIOUS JADE' JUE-STEUCK, DR. MEI-MEI AKWAI ELLERMAN, AND SABRINA SPAN 3 CONTINENTS and REPRESENT 6 GENERATIONS of CHINESE ADOPTEES. (scroll down for more details)

Monday, July 22, 2013

"What beautiful people..." - Monday Musings by Jennifer

Recently in Europe a friend said this to me: "What beautiful people to have adopted you...you have to admit it takes really beautiful people to do that kind of a thing."  She smiles and I smile back, swallowing a silent little lump of sadness. 

Beautiful people?

Yes, of course I think my parents are two of the most beautiful people in the world.  But not because they adopted children.  They are beautiful because of who they are, the art they create, the family they built, the things they have taught me as their adopted daughter. 

But are they beautiful because they adopted me?  Are they beautiful because they would not have had any children at all if it weren't for adoption?  Is necessity the virtue that makes them beautiful?

This comment triggers a flashback.  A fellow Ph.D. classmate is sitting and typing beside us at a cafe.  He says, "Jennifer, don't you think it takes a special kind of person to adopt a child, one who is not 'their own'...?  I mean, that's unique." 

And I can't help but wonder, does it take an equally 'special' and 'beautiful' adopted person/child to adapt to an entirely new family, continent and country?  To be completely cut off from their roots and still smile through it all and say, yes, isn't this wonderful to not know who I look like?  And isn't it wonderful to not have any access to my genetic and family ancestry, to not know the stories of where I come from and of who I really am...?

Yes, I wholeheartedly agree.  My parents are beautiful people.  But it's not because they adopted me.  Adoption has nothing to do with their inherent beauty, or mine for that matter.  At least, this is what I think today, filled with Monday's musings on belonging, home and the notion of true beauty. 

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I felt a related discomfort as an adoptive parent when people would say this kind of stuff about me. (Particularly in front of my kids). Ours was a kinship care adoption, and it was interesting that white people would often make a big deal of our having adopted--"that's so great! it's amazing that you did that!"-- but people of color generally took our situation as pretty much "normal." I liked that so much better--it was good to just have our family be regarded as normal, not the result of some great heroism on our part.

Jessie Lutz said...

You eloquently articulated what I have also felt but could not seem to convey. What a beautiful post Jennifer. Thanks so much for sharing! <3

Much love,
Jessie

Shannon said...

This is probably the kind of comment I hate the most--when people praise me for adopting my children. It sounds as if my children are inherently less loveable than they would be if they sprang from my womb. Not only are my children the most loveable children alive, and I won the lottery when I was chosen to be their parent, but there would be nothing any more special about my biological child than about any other human being walking around on the planet.
Just pisses me off. It doesn't take "beauty" or heroism or special kindness to love an adopted child. If you can only imagine yourself capable of loving your own genetic material, you probably shouldn't be a parent at all.

Jennifer Bao Yu "Precious Jade" Jue-Steuck said...

Dear Anonymous, Jessie & Shannon,
Appreciate your comments! So nice to know that I am not alone in the world when it comes to these sorts of well-intentioned remarks from strangers and friends alike. My big sister, Dr. Amanda, calls this sort of thing 'biologicalism' - a societal preference for blood-kinship relations. Thanks for being there and for sharing your thoughts,
Jennifer