As fate would have it, today presented me with the perfect introduction for this post. I’m currently back in the hometown for a 5-second Thanksgiving break. Because I have not eaten excessively enough this week (read: I have and I’m now wearing sweatpants, thank you very much), my mom and I decided that consuming a large quantity of spaghetti for lunch would be a good idea. We went to a local Italian place where we were immediately waited on by a girl of Asian descent. The moment she said her name, I couldn’t help but wonder if she was a KAD. It wasn’t just the name, but the context and local demographic factors that got me wondering. The only Asian American youth I knew growing up were other KADs. Well, lo and behold, after she took our drink orders she said, “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but were you in an adoption group? I think I remember you two. My parents are [insert names here].” Really! I don’t honestly remember her or her family, but my mom did and it was just pleasantly surprising to run into a fellow KAD. I can’t plan these things, people! Come to think of it, this might be the first time something like this ever happened to me.
In my experience finding other KADs, aside from the ones I grew up with, is hard. It’s not like we go around wearing a sign identifying ourselves as such. There don’t seem to be any surefire signs that would lead you to make those assumptions. With the girl today, I wondered, but I don’t have some TRA sixth sense! My guess is as good as anyone else’s. I’m regularly on a campus with an enormous population of Asian students. There’s no way to quickly distinguish who’s an adoptee, who’s not, who’s an international student, who’s not. There could be a ton of KADs/TRAs at my school for all I know. In fact, I think it’s safe to say there have to be some floating around because my university is just that huge and the surrounding area diverse enough. If there are a handful of us kicking around the less diverse suburban community I grew up in, there surely have to be more in this bigger college city. Which is awesome..if I ever meet any of them!
Because that’s the challenge: connecting with others, at least in-person, and especially as an adult living in an area that does not have a known adoptee group. Of the few KADs that I do know personally, we don’t see each other often and none of them appear to have much of an interest in this aspect of their identity. There is absolutely no right or wrong way for an adoptee to feel. And I’m so thankful for the presence of these KAD friends in my life since childhood, even if we don’t talk adoptee stuff. The fact that I know them and that others are out there normalizes the experience so much. I feel as though being a KAD automatically makes me part of a large, if somewhat unspoken, community. I’m learning that I’m an adoptee who not only wants to, but needs to feel connected to that community.