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The Alphabetical Directory of Being Adopted
A- Anything you could possibly want the word to mean. Adopted means different things to different people. Your only job is to find out what it means to you.
B- Birthdays are always approximations. It may be necessary to turn banners into “Happy
C- Crying while watching The Blind Side is normal, and should be expected. Just go for it. Plenty of non-adopted people cried too, believe me.
D-Diversity Outreach is finally where you have a chance to shine. Work it with all you’ve got. When every single one of your friends hates that you got into that super-cool English program at school because of Diversity Outreach, remember all the dumb Asian jokes they made in middle school to feel less guilty. If you happen to lose one of your best friends in the process, remind yourself that she is a b**** for even remarking on your better odds, let alone accusing you of “playing the race card”.
E- Each of us is different. Stories in a cumulative collection still can have individual plots.
F-Family trees have the potential to be the worst homework assignments ever. You are completely justified in making the teacher feel guilty, though. This is best executed though sly a comment about how delicate your family situation is in the best “Little Orphan Annie” impersonation that you can muster.
G- Gender is something you may think a lot about, especially since you were born under the One Child Policy. A common icebreaker, “what would your parents have named you if you were a boy?” just doesn’t mean the same thing anymore. You will have to explain to the unknowing victim that you would literally not be here if you were a dude. You would most likely be on a rice field halfway across the world in scratchy pants and a crooked smile. You think about how much you resented your parents for making you get braces, but thinking about yourself as a guy with bad teeth is enough to make you grateful. It’s hard though, to scroll past veiled street corners with catcallers calling you sweetie, to realize that you actually won the freaking lottery. Knowing deep down you’d rather have boobs than blisters crawling like blooms up your wrists, because while you struggle to shape these words into verse, you’ve never gone a day truly knowing hard work. If this is being a girl, than you have to feel grateful for their hurt.
H- Home studies are the scariest things ever. Give your parents props now and then. They may have baked banana bread. Think of every high stress test you ever took, yes counting the SAT, then realize that if you don’t pass the SAT you don’t get into college but if they didn’t pass the home study they wouldn’t have gotten you.
I- Identity based English papers have already written themselves for you. To be fair, this is one of them and you still had to put your thoughts into order. That’s not nothing.
J- Jack is the name of someone who loves me.
K- Kathy is another name of someone who loves me.
L- Love is something that every single human being needs. It does not necessarily matter who it comes from.
M- Multi-Ethnic Placement is a fancy way of saying that ignorant people in the park will ask if your mother is actually your babysitter. You will most likely be too young to throw shade, but hopefully your mother can carry this one on her own. She’s going to get used to it after a while.
N- Names are fickle friends that you may or may not resent. Remember no matter what name you are given, you may always change them if you feel they do not represent you well. You may have many names, but never none.
O- Open adoption is something you always will wish you could have had. It’s something you only heard of because of bad adoption based reality shows where the birth moms wear mascara and pimp slap the adoptive parents to create more drama. Before stumbling upon the show, you just thought that every adopted kid looked up at the lonely moon and wondered what their parents looked like. It never occurred to you that some kids get to see all four of their parents at once, and everyone is smiling at you. It’s alright though. Even though the reality show kids get more parents in their lives, remember that love in not a quantitative property.
P- Parents. Whether you believe it or not, you have a ton of these. Learn to love the ones you see every day. It’s harder to love the ones who aren’t there to cut the crust off your sandwiches or clip you nails. It’s even harder to convince yourself that they love you back. But try to every now and then. Believe that it’s worth it in the long run and it will be.
Q- Questions sometimes come from very good intentions. Keep this in mind, even when the asker is driving you up a wall.
R- “Revocation of Consent” is the scariest phrase for any adoptee, so naturally you will Google its meaning constantly. Don’t let it scare you. Words are only words until you add your own doubts into them. When you were little, you screamed mid-tantrum “why don’t you just return me then”, even though you didn’t know how much air that phrase would knock out of your mother’s lungs. Your parents are not going to give you up. Think of all the times you threw the pacifier for the last time, kicked a classmate, puked on your Mom’s new yellow dress. You’re almost out of the house at this point. If they were going to give you up they would have done so a long time ago. If you have any trouble with this step, please refer to letters J-L.
S- Stupid questions are much worse than regular questions. Remember to pity these people, and that slapping them will only land you in detention.
T- Trust is hard. Like that final monkey bar or stepping over cracks between the train and the dusty station, trust can only be built, not created.
V- Vacations back to your orphanage are never actually vacations. No matter how much foreign junk food you eat or how many ridiculous tourist attractions you attend, it never will be. Call it whatever makes you feel least uncomfortable, it’s just not a vacation.
W- Weird is a word you will learn is only used by haters who have never been taught how to spell D-I-F-F-E-R-E-N-T.
X- Xeroxed papers in the bottom desk drawer are all you know about the first eight months of your life.
Y-You only really have to be you. This is hard, especially when you aren’t sure who you are. That’s ok. You are a teenager. You aren’t supposed to know. Don’t let guidance counselors tell you otherwise. It’s just their job. Do what you want to do, provided it’s legal in some states, and there’s at least a 98% chance you’ll turn out all right. Tell yourself you’re a good kid every now and then. Think of all the people in your life who are glad to have you, who told your parents they were proud to have met you. Have a good cry when you feel like it, and don’t forget to have your heart broken at least once a month. It will heal. It already has. When people tell you that you can’t repair a cracked foundation, tell them that’s bulls**t. It is. You have a house now. A duplex stuffed with material items and a home stuffed with the parents who flew over 13 hours just to hold you in their own arms. Forget the letter U and the utter crap you wrote that it stood for. Acknowledge that sometimes you can be really stupid. But let’s face it. Most adolescents are stupid. Wasn’t that proved by science or something? You are going to turn out just fine. You made it this far.
Z- Zero. That’s the number of f**ks you should give for anyone who gives you s*** about being adopted.