#AdoptedTerritory by Eleana J. Kim has had a profound impact on my life. From these pages, two terms really stuck with me: adoptee kinship & contingent essentialism.
Adoptee kinship is the unspoken bond that adoptees, transracial and transactional especially so, share with each other. A quote from an unnamed adoptee sums it up best:
“It’s a bittersweet thing to know someone else had feelings that exactly mirror yours, sweet because it feels like you’ve met kin in emotion; bitter because this bond is based on the loss we share.”
Contingent essentialism is the active piece, generated by adult adoptees through world and relationship building. We form community due to our kinship, and that community acts to further include other adoptees, building upon each other’s accomplishments so that we may create what most others throughout the world have naturally: family.
Being able to define these concepts in real time has helped me to better understand the community I’m a part of and my role in it. It’s also given me the perspective and the courage to speak on this most sensitive subject without feeling like I’m hurting my adoptive parents or “going against them” in any way.
The reality is, this is the family that I’ve been missing. Like most transracial, transnational adoptees, I’ve never met my bio-fam and while I did end up with a wonderful family, many more adoptees did or will not. In 5 months I’ve read and listened to countless stories of the latter variety, and one important lesson I’ve learned is that we must amplify these voices: without ALL experiences represented we are doing a disservice to ourselves.
I hope we all take the time listen to a few more of these stories.