Dear Adoption, I’m Tired.

Worn out from years of explaining who I am and who I am not. I have grown weary of trying to assimilate into countries and cultures that ask me to be for them and not with them. I have grown fatigued of tracing a story that befits only a partial narrative, left only with speculation and the inability to reconcile the truth of the story. And I am one of the lucky ones—one of those whose story gaps were nearly filled after looking so long for the answer. But there are no complete answers, only more questions. I am tired of the questions left hanging like a string of lights above my head, filaments twisted on the inside and no longer producing a spark. They will remain unchanged—my once-steady hand exhausted from stretching out to change the bulb, the ladder I’ve used all these years weakened from my constant climb. I ache, after 40 years, from the moments I had to reel myself back in from feelings of loss and inadequacy, trying to find value in a space that wanted to compartmentalize me: my feelings, my worth, my identity. I am weakened by decades of trying to articulate what it means to be adopted, knowing that even in the best circumstance I could have been given, in many ways, I still lost. I was lost. Shuffled under damp blankets that suffocated me, weighted down by tears that accumulated in the taut threads of longing and silent suffering. Words left swallowed back down when I knew that I could not say what I felt. Hurt. Lonely. Sad. Simple statements you’re not allowed to voice because you’ll sound foolish. Ungrateful. Incomprehensible. I have typed out these ideas over decades—arthritic fingers connecting with black keys that are stiff from constant use, trying to capture the sentiments that sound like a betrayal to what I have been given. But they’re not. They’re just words, coalescing over waterfalls of ambiguity that I have lived with all these years. They’re just thoughts, simmering under surfaces of loss that I drag behind me. I am exhausted from pulling. The ropes are beginning to fray from the weight of all the time I was trying to find my worth because of one moment that makes you feel worthless forever. I am tired, Adoption. Not because you gave me everything but because sometimes, you gave me nothing.

First published on DearAdoption.com November 14, 2017.

Things I Remember Living in Hanoi, 1996

  1. Dirt road to and from the airport.
  2. Large numbers of policeman with AK47s.
  3. Not going to Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum.
  4. Bun Cha Nem.
  5. Hoa Sua and chocolate croissants.
  6. Drinking cafe sua non on the balcony of a hostel in Sapa before the fog rolled out of the valley.
  7. Hiking to Fansipan with an Excalibur-like moment that included a horse riding off into the fog.
  8. 306-no home.
  9. Cyclos that were actually necessary transportation.
  10. Amoebas.
  11. Being the wrong color.
  12. The squealing of a pig on a motorbike.
  13. The squeak of tennis shoes on a makeshift badminton court.
  14. Civilians lining up for military exercises at 5:30 AM in the field across from where I lived.
  15. The woman selling her food at 5:00 AM in a sing-song voice.
  16. The day a dog got stolen from the neighbor.
  17. The day a dog got run over by a motorbike.
  18. Learning nothing.
  19. Learning everything.
Photo: Sapa, 1996