That’s a word used often to describe adoptees, and I used it plenty of times growing up.
“I’m lucky because my mom chose me.”
“I’m lucky to have education. healthcare, a home, a mom, a family.”
I saw the conditions of third world countries on the news when The News Hour with Jim Lehrer did a special report on a war or an epidemic. I would watch like a nerd when they covered an epidemic because a) my mom was a nurse and b) I was trying to understand what my life was like as a malnourished chronically ill infant and toddler before I came to the US at 18 months. My mom would remind me how lucky I was that I was here, and that is true. I was first seen by an ophthalmologist after my adoption and of course my diet and access to antibiotics got better.
As a child. I worked hard in school to prove that I won’t waste my gift of adoption. I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to do sonething extraordinary.
As time went on and life happened, I found myself just being a normal teenager, college student, and working adult. Now I’m a suburban mom with an office job dealing with mundane things like buying diapers and formula and going to my desk job 40 hours per week.
Look at where you are. Look at where you started. The fact that you’re alive is a miracle.
There’s a part of me that wants more. That doesn’t want to just settle for an ordinary life, but my sweet husband reminds me that I came from an extraordinary circumstance. My ordinary life in America was never imaginable back in the Philippines.
I’m grateful for my life now.
Hamilton was the musical I never knew I needed.
My 14-year-old niece kept singing the song “Nonstop” from this musical during our 4th of July picnic, so of course, I had to see if the soundtrack was on Spotify.
Then the lyrics touched the part of me I don’t often think about.
“…bastard orphan… the ten-dollar founding father without a father…inside he was longing for something to be a part of… get your education, don’t forget from whence you came… see him now as he stands on the bow of a ship headed to a new land. In New York you can be a new man… do they know what you overcame…another immigrant coming up from the bottom…”
I realized Alexander Hamilton’s story, the way it was presented in this musical, parallels my adoption story. I came from nothing, I lost legal ties to my biological family and was sent to America to become a new person. I am an immigrant and my mom remind me that I overcame health problems and extreme deprivation to go on to graduate from college and eventually land the career I have today.
Hamilton was the musical I didn’t know I needed because I can use it to tell my story in a unique way. Like our ten-dollar Founding Father, the trauma of my past, as well as my accomplishments in spite of my circumstances, shape the decisions I have made.
The cast members of this musical were the narrators of American History I didn’t realize I had lacked. During my schooling and when my mom and I would watch documentaries, history lessons came from white professors, teachers, scholars, and family members. Watching people of color narrate events of the Revolutionary War connected me to my roots as an Asian immigrant.
I have a lot of thoughts floating around that have been slowly solidifying since July when I first heard the soundtrack to this musical. They will come out in these next few posts, because this unique narrative of American history has made me explore and embrace my own history in a new way.
This is my first post but it’s on my second site. I had a previous site but I was hesitant to post on it just because I wanted to say more. My first site was “A Chance to be Loved.” While that aspect of adoption is wholehearedly true, I want to explore other facets:
Adoption and race
Life as a Special Needs Adoptre
Adoption and career choices
Adoption and parenting