March 2021 Newsletter
Featuring work from Amanda Phillips, Anna Thorpe and Schafer Bailey.
Embracing Your Story
A few weeks ago I was reading a children’s book called Zen Pig: The 7 Rules of Valentine’s Day to the little boy I nanny. About half way through the book he of course loses interest and begins to play with another toy, but I on the other hand was not ready to give up this cute book about love. As I read the next page, my breath got caught in my throat and I was overwhelmed with all sorts of emotions. “Rule #7: Lastly, learn to accept, not reject the gift of love. Many don’t feel worthy of it, but it’s something we’re all deserving of”. As someone who struggles with self worth, it is sometimes a struggle to wrap my head around the fact that I deserve love. Growing up I was (and still am) very proud to be adopted from China. My parents taught me that I should never be embarrassed but proud of the life story the Lord has given me.When it began time for me to attend school, I made it very known that my mommy and daddy had flown to China to get me. I loved seeing the surprised and confused faces of my peers, I loved being able to share my story. But one day my story backfired one me. A boy in my class became angry with me and shouted, “You’re not even worth a dime, your own mother didn’t even want you!”. I remember going home and being so upset, wondering why someone would use something I deemed so precious and proud of against me. Over the years the words stuck with me. Of course I was always reassured that his words were in fact untrue, but I couldn’t help but wonder. Was I really unwanted? Unworthy? This spiraled into many years of self loathing, something I am even still currently battling. But I am here to say that these emotions are normal, especially for adoptees. I’ve always felt to guilty feeling these emotions, I would tell myself, “Amanda, how dare you feel sorry for yourself when others have it way harder?”. Although others may struggle with things you deem harder, it shouldn’t downplay what you have/ are going through.
As I have gotten older I have realized how much adoption really has on a person/ family. It is such a beautiful story, one that mirrors the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just as I was as an infant, lost and no one to call my own, the Lord welcomes us with open arms and calls us his children, just as my family has. I was always told by my mother that my birth mom gave me up because she loved me enough to give me the best possible life. I didn’t truly believe this until I heard my own birth mother say this to me.
“We have found a new DNA match for you, the relationship between you and the new match is: Mother - Daughter.” These are the words I received through an email on November 22, 2019. After many months of confirming that this was legit, on June of 2020, it was confirmed, I had found my birth family. Being able to see and hear your birth mother talk to you after 20 years is a feeling I can’t even begin to describe. A rush of questions and emotions came pouring out of my brain, so fast that I felt frozen. Her first words to me were that she loved me and that she was sorry she couldn’t have raised me. All my life I have waited and longed to hear those words. I am so excited and blessed that the Lord has chosen me to reconnect with my roots, however this doesn’t erase the hurt and feeling of unworthiness. Although me telling you it’s ok to feel bad may sound like a bummer, it is meant to give you encouragement. For so long I have wanted someone to relate to me, relate to the fact that while something amazing is occurring, it is still an emotional and confusing time. The one thing I hope people take away from my story is that we should all embrace our story, however that may look like.
Banana is a slang term used to describe Asian adoptees, or Asians who are cultured in Western ideology and practices. Like a banana, the peel itself is yellow, but the inside is white. This is used to describe Asians, who do not act “asian.” I’ve heard this term used a lot in my life, and used in many different ways and purposes. Sometimes to discredit me, other times to excuse my behavior, and just as a general term to describe who I am. However, I hate this term. I hate the idea behind it and the connotation in which it holds. Growing up in the west and in America, I have become immersed in Western culture. I am addicted to caffeine in the form of coffee, I like to eat fast food, I am always too busy and do not have enough time, and traditions are not important.
To some Asians, I am a disgrace. I am not “one of them”, and I am certainly not a true Asian. Getting called a banana evokes mixed feelings inside of me; First, there is a feeling of annoyance. It is my self defense coming to light asking how dare someone question who I am, and what culture I am apart of. Another part of me feels loathsome acceptance. It’s hard to deny those who call me that, especially no matter how hard I try to stand out. Sometimes I wish it was one or the other. Either I am white, I look white, and I act like it. Or I am Asian, I look like one, and I act like one. But being an adoptee puts me in an identity crisis because I do not know who I am supposed to be. How am I supposed to be a part of culture that willingly rejected me and put me up for adoption? But, how am I supposed to fit in to a culture that I do not belong to?
These are the questions that I think about on the regular, and these are questions that hold me back. Just like a banana, I can bruise. Just like a banana, there is a time where I am ripe. I am just hoping that as of right now, I am not rotting, waiting to be tossed out once again with the spoiled fruit. Because I peel back the layers, and I feel white. I speak as an white American, and I act like one as well. But no matter how hard I try, I will never belong to that culture entirely. And no matter what lengths I go to regain my status and reputation within an Asian culture, I will never belong there as well. I can never belong to something I was never a part of, and that is the hardest truth to swallow.
Brokenness to Redemption
For me, the most difficult part of my adoption is not knowing: Not knowing why I was adopted, how I was found, what was my birth mother’s thoughts were as she was carrying me for nine months, and does she think about me when my birthday comes around? Adoption is a story of abandonment, neglect, loss, but that is not the end of the story for anyone. After the hurt, there comes a time of healing, forgiveness, and redemption. I believe that we are God’s beloved children who He chose us before we were born to our birth parents. Even though our story and our lives are filled with hills and valleys, He brings healing and redemption into it all. When I reflect on the beginning of my life and the difficulty of not knowing my past, it grieves me, but when I place God in the picture, I can’t help but give thanks to God because He chose me and knew me before my birth mom had me. It reminds me of the verse: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations” - Jeremiah 1:5. He knew me before I was conceived and He loves me. When I ponder upon that, it amazes me and blows me away. Even though I may never know the beginning of my life on earth until I get to Heaven, it is so beautiful that we can give our burdens to the King of kings and Lord of Lords, and somehow He can heal and give us peace in it and as we walk through it.