The other day my 10 year old asked the question, “Do you miss your family?”
Instantly I answered, “Yes all the time – I love them. But I also love being here with you and living in New Zealand too.”
His eyebrows furrowed when he asked, “Then why are you going to Thailand?”
I was now confused…did he mean MY FAMILY the only family I have ever known? Or the two people who are biologically related to me; who chose to give me up for adoption?
His innocent question is what finally compelled the completion of this post. I have been meaning to post more on the topic of family for quite some time. I have so many partially typed notes that it’s time to sort through them and start posting. I am not getting any younger 🙂
He has cousins that are adopted so he has a great grasp of the concept of adoption. When I first moved in with his family; I had explained that I had lived in an orphanage in Thailand until the age around 2.5. My parents (the only 2 people I have ever seen as the definition of my parents) then adopted me. Shortly after my adoption we moved to Canada where I have lived virtually my whole life. With a little help from his Mom, I explained I have always called my parents, “Dad” and “Mom” because THEY ARE my parents. I was just a baby when I went to the orphanage and know no different. I do not believe I could be ANY CLOSER to my brothers, had they been biological or not. I grew up feeling very close to both of them and feel blessed to have such a great bond with both of them.
After clarification, I understood he wanted to know why I was travelling to Thailand if my parents and brothers lived in Canada. I had to remind him that yes my parents and brothers do live in Canada, but I am an adult and haven’t lived in the same house as my family for years. Yes OF COURSE I miss seeing my family and friends but I have wanted to go to Thailand for a long time. Just like I had traveled to New Zealand, I would continue on travelling before flying back to Canada.
Canada is where I have grown up, but Thailand is where I was born. I am a Thai-Canadian who only feels Canadian. I am not able to relate to my Thai roots. My dream has always been to live in Thailand to learn more about MY culture. My dream vision for myself would be to instantly be able to assimilate myself to all things Thai. I know that is not realistic but it’s what I want. I want to no longer feel like an outsider. I am sick of feeling like a tourist. I look the part, now I just have to feel it. I realize I am putting a LOT of pressure on myself with this upcoming trip. I am trying to lower my expectations but it is so hard when I have dreamed of this moment for so long!
Thanks for reading – Buddha Blessings,
xox Amanda Sumalee
This is my journey, MY LIFE. I am beyond excited but scared to death about finally going to Thailand. Wherever it takes me, and whatever I discover will be my story. Curiosity is the strongest feeling pulling me back to my place of birth.
While at the doctors I had to fill out the standard personal information form. One of the questions was ethnicity/nationality. It stumped me. I starred at it for what felt like eternity. I questioned myself as to what I should write down. I KNEW I should write down Thai, but I really wanted to put Canadian. Had someone been with me, I would have definitely written down whatever they suggested. I did not have wi-fi at the time but as soon as I got home I asked my Aunt what she thought I should have done. The same feelings were brought up again while filling out a New Zealand census form. I had to write down my nationality and place of residency….I was born in Thailand but lived my whole life in Canada. If Thai-Canadian was an option there would have been no need for hesitation.
When the doctor looked me over she asked me where I was from? I told her Canada and she immediately gave me this look of disbelief. This cold glare like I was trying to lie to her. I could feel her looking my whole body over. I FELT obligated to tell I have lived in Canada all my life but I was born in Thailand. Why do I have to feel so defensive when stating that I am Canadian? It’s as if her glare was her warning to tell me the truth or she would not continue the exam. When I told her I lived in Canada practically my whole life she told me I had ASIAN ears, was I from the Philippines? I had to restate that I was born in Thailand but lived in Canada virtually my whole life. I know the atmosphere of a doctor’s office always comes off as intrusive but I felt beyond uncomfortable and defensive.
I have never met an adoptee who doesn’t wonder about their origins. Adoptees share a unique bond: we are consumed by our loneliness. We don’t openly talk about it but it’s apparent. My life never had a defining moment of a “big reveal” of my adoption story. My parents never had to tell me on my 18th birthday (like someone I knew), or sit me down for any big discussion. There was no need for suspicious thoughts as I was always aware I wasn’t their biological child. I was brown and EVERYONE else in my Dad and Mom’s family are Caucasian. No matter how loved you are, being adopted harvests a visceral feeling of loneliness . Every adoptee has a shared experience of rejection followed by loss. I am not saying the heavy rainstorm can’t create a magnificent rainbow…but a rainbow is impossible without the rain.
I am not wanting to delve too deeply in this conversation now because I would like to try as best as possible to put my thoughts into an array of posts. Divide my thoughts up.
These posts about my adoption are personal. I would like to make them as honest and raw as possible without breaching my own level of comfort. It is not my intention to hurt anyone’s’ feelings. I hope to be as honest as possible. Maybe sharing my thoughts on the topic can help others open up about their experiences. Reading about other peoples’ journeys has helped me to heal. I have amassed some notes from books I have read and hope to post my thoughts on my newly acquired information in upcoming post.
PLEASE comment or message me privately to share your thoughts. I would love to hear suggestions or personal stories from my readers. I have never been a member of an adoptee support group but have read about some in the United States of America. Anyone have any information on online ones? xo