It’s been two months since I’ve returned Stateside, and once again I am acutely aware of my sense of belonging in this country. In the corners of New Jersey that I grew up in, I am luckily not made aware of my “painted bird” [link] status. But trips to Eastern Pennsylvania (where my brothers live) and Western New Jersey (much less diverse than the urbanized North) are quite revealing.
The first thing that hits me are the “obvious” adoptees, standing out like sore thumbs, who are just expected to fit in and Be White. I saw this a few weeks ago at my niece’s band camp concert, and today at a farmer’s market. My heart breaks for these kids. What struck me today though is that the propaganda of adoption makes the relationship obvious, meaning, an observer will pause and then come away with the answer: “Oh, okay; adopted”.
To pass my days while job hunting I take care of my sister’s yard and garden. At first, I joked with her that I should make up business cards in case the neighbors want to hire me, thinking me to be a landscape worker. But today we were in a shopping store and it was quite obvious from his chatter that the checkout clerk was trying to figure out our relationship. “Adopted” brother didn’t seem to be so obvious at this point.
It got me thinking: Where does that assumption go to, the one that came so easily when we were children? Why should it be so easily replaced with what is obviously leaning in a negative (racially and stereotypically speaking) direction? Second husband, extramarital affair for my sister; caregiver for my mother; kidnapper for my three-year-old niece….
Does this explain the need of adoptive society to keep us perpetually children?
At what point does the obvious cultural bias against adoption win out, and we just stop pretending?