VISIBILITY Magazine Issue 03. (April 2018) - Page 22

Open Letter to an Adopted Child From One Adoptee to Another Preface: I wrote the below letter to my newly adopted, three-year-old cousin from Taiwan, who arrived to the USA in October 2017. She joins me as the second Asian adoptee in our White extended family. I will not be giving her this letter for a while, since she cannot yet read or understand English, and I’ve modified it a bit here for clarity. All names are pseudonyms. I share it with you to share part of my journey as a Chinese adoptee, with humble hope that in it you may find a piece that resonates. Here’s to our collective quest for compassion, positive peace, and shared humanity. *** Dear Yue Mei, You are loved. Your identity is a gateway to your soul. You come from a variety of people and places. You need not be defined by one label, or by any label at all. You can choose how you identify. You have the right to as much fluidity and permanence in your identity as you’d like. My nugget of advice is to continue forming your identity, while staying true to your essence. I wish that you embrace any and all identities that you choose. Wear them proudly. Know that you have the right to identify differently from your adoptive parents, from your birth parents, from your foster parents, from me, from your friends, from your sister in Taiwan…from anyone. You have the right to claim whichever name you choose to claim, whether that be Yue Mei, Hannah, or any other name. You have the right to speak whichever language you choose, including your Mandarin mother tongue, the Italian your parents will certainly use at home, or the English you’ll learn in school. The English language dominates global communication today, but that does not mean it is the best language. No language is better than another. You have the right to identify your gender and sexuality. You need not let your biological sex determine your gender identity, sexual orientation, or gender expression. You have the right to choose your racial identity. As you navigate race relations in the United States, I would caution you to be on the lookout for the domination of White- ness. Your skin and eyes and hair and size read to the eye trained by White Western ways, that you are Asian. Maybe it is not obvious to you now, but your phenotype may affect how people interact with you. If I could go back and do it again, I would educate myself on Asian stereotypes so that I could understand how others see me. Remember, though, that how the world sees you and how you see yourself need not ever be the same. 21 Look out for when racial hierarchy, and in general any social hierarchy, are at play in your