An Image of Adoption
I am thankful for my family.
In a way, I am part of very traditional families. Both my parents and my husband’s parents have remained happily married for over 30 years and both families have three children. Both families are active church members and attended the same Christian school. We have our share of struggles, but overall, we have lived happy and healthy lives. Praise the Lord for our heritage.
But in a way, I am different from my families. I am adopted. I have different skin, hair, eyes, and nose from my family members. But this is a strength and not a weakness.
Check back this weekend for my adoption story, but the short version is that I was adopted from South Korea as an infant into a white, American family. I always knew I was adopted but that was just another part of my identity, like the fact that I have brown eyes. I didn’t feel like an outsider and I always knew I was loved and belonged just as much as my sisters, who are not adopted. Growing up, I was often the only Asian in our circles. I didn’t really notice and sometimes would even forget that I wasn’t white like my friends. I have said that I am like a Twinkie: yellow on the outside, white on the inside. This speaks volumes of my adoption: I would forget I had physical differences from my family and friends because I was never treated any differently.
As I have grown older I have realized how real racism is and have become more aware of the role it plays in my life. I have been fortunate enough not to have had direct, overt confrontations due to my ethnicity, but I have worried about how others would respond to my squinty eyes. When meeting new people I wonder how they feel about Asians and if that will affect our future relationship. When my cousins began to marry, I worried that their spouses would not like me because I was Asian (which, thankfully, has not been the case). When my husband, Matt, and I began to date I wondered how his family felt about Asian girls and if this would be strange for them.
There is one story in particular that stands out about the beginning of my relationship with my future in laws. Matt and I had been talking for several months but only dating for a couple weeks when I was introduced to Matt’s grandparents at a high school basketball game. He was home from college for Christmas break and his brother was on the basketball team and I was cheerleading. His grandparents were asking Matt about school and about any relationships he might have. His dad pointed over at me and said that Matt was seeing that cheerleader over there. His grandma looked over at me and said, “Oh! Why she’s a cute, little Asian girl!” When this story was relayed to me later that night I felt so comforted and relieved. The weight of unease was lifted. It sounds like such a casual exchange, but to me it meant that I was welcomed into his family with no worry of racial tensions. This is something that is difficult to understand unless you have experienced it: the fear that you won’t be accepted or won’t be enough because of your skin tone or straight hair or almond eyes.
With growing awareness of how others perceive my ethnicity, I have come to appreciate my ethnic roots. Being Korean has given me just a small glimpse into the world of other people groups who may feel themselves as the “other”. Being Korean has showed me the beauty of adoption and the creation of a family through this wonderful process. Being Korean has fostered opportunities for people to show me love just for being myself and for accepting me. The most wonderful part? Most people I encounter are not showing kindness or love to me because I am Asian. They are showing kindness and love to me because I am a human being. They see me for who I am and not just as a representative of a people group. I am thankful that racism does not play a part of my every day life but I would still like to thank the people in my life who do not allow prejudices to hinder their view of me.
I am thankful for my family. I am thankful for my family who adopted me and gave me a home, a heritage, and never once made me feel different. I am thankful for my family that I had the privilege of marrying into who has loved and supported me from the very beginning.
Isn’t this how the family of God should look and feel? Ethnic differences, social class barriers, generational stereotypes all can form divisions within the church. But we are to “show no partiality as you hold faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” James 2:1. Within the church, there should be no fear of “otherness”. No matter our differences, we are called by the same Spirit and are all have the need for a Savior. Just as I was adopted into my family and then added to my marital family, so should the acceptance of new believers be immediate and welcoming. “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body- Jews or Greeks, slave or free- and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13.
I am thankful for my family for showing me such a strong example of adoption as children of God (Galatians 4:5-7). May I be as accepting to my brothers and sisters in Christ as my family has been of me.