Emily Daum

Wuhan, Hubei to Ann Arbor, MI

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About me

Age: 19

Age at Adoption: 13 months

Interests: Cooking, film, outdoors

 

When did you realize your story is different?

I was always aware of myself as an adoptee growing up as my parents embraced the uniqueness of the situation. Because of my tight-knit community, my adoption never made me feel quite different. I'd say college was a real eye-opening time for me because I realized that not everyone understood me quite as well as my community. I learned the most about my story my freshman year of college when I would have to explain to people that I was adopted. It was the first time I was scared of people's reactions to the news, but I found that most had very positive reactions and wanted to learn more! In a sense, this forced me to understand more about my own story as I was teaching others which has resulted in a lot of personal growth in the end.

 

How was your experience growing up?

Growing up, I always realized I was different however it never had much of an effect on me. I hadn't understood the uniqueness of my background because both my family and community were incredibly accepting, which I am forever grateful for. Of course, I dealt with the occasional bullying but never questioned my worth as an adoptee. I'm very blessed to have had an childhood with little trauma and a family that's always been supportive since the beginning.

 

How does your community view adoption?

I grew up in a primarily white and Catholic community. Going to Catholic private school from K-12th grade was both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, all of my friends were aware of myself being and adoptee and truly didn't think much of it. I had a very accepting and tight-knit community growing up. On the other hand, my perception and awareness to the world were definitely hindered by this community. I was never ashamed of being adopted, but I wasn't necessarily proud because it was a subject that I never felt very comfortable talking about with people outside of my family. This sheltered-ness definitely made the transition into college a lot more difficult, however a lot more rewarding in the end.

 

What have you learned from your experience? How has it affected you?

I've learned to be very proud of my experience and excited to teach others about it. A lot of people have this notion that adoption is this sad and horrible thing. Don't get me wrong, the one-child policy in China wasn't the most moral, but the positives that have came out of my life from the policy has shaped my perspective on life. I could very well find the horrors and sadness in my experience, but I don't think that's the best way to live. Therefore, I always try to educate others on the positives of my experience and the beauty of adoption.

 

What is one misconception about adoption you want to clarify?

Not all adoptees have a universal "sob" story and we do not want your pity. Every-time I tell people I'm adopted, which I am very open and proud about, they always have reactions along the lines of "oh, I'm sorry". There's nothing to be sorry about, they did not affect us being adopted and our adoptions are something we're usually very proud of!

 

How do you want your story to impact others?

I want to inspire other adoptees and people to never be ashamed of who they are and their experiences. Everyone brings different backgrounds and perspectives to the table which can result in incredibly meaningful and impactful conversations. I want my story to show the beauty in every life and upbringing while still honoring the not-so-amazing aspects of it.

 
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I appreciate you taking the time to listen to my story! I'd love to get to know some fellow adoptees, DM me anytime @emily.da