Can you tell us a little about your story?
My Mom and Dad adopted me from Mexico in 1983. I was a little baby at the time of my adoption. I had long black hair and was a pretty adorable Mexican baby. I don’t use “adopted parents” when referring to my parents. My adoption was a closed adoption, so I don’t have much information of my birth family. My parents brought me to Indiana when I was a few months old. Waiting at the old Indianapolis International Airport was my adopted family and some local news to welcome me. I am pretty sure the banner they were holding is still in a box someplace. Growing up my mom had on the walls pictures of me in a poncho and sombrero that were taken when I was a little older.
My parents later gave birth to my Sister and then years later my Brother. My family was the average Midwestern family. They all had blonde or brown hair and tall. At the time it was very easy to point me out in the family pictures. Adoption was always an open topic in the family. There was also never any focus on the fact that I looked clearly different than the rest of my family.
I was pretty well adjusted and understood my adoption story growing up. I often shared about being adopted to my Elementary classmates. It was not a topic that I was afraid to talk about.
What about adoption do you think was the most difficult for you?
The biggest challenge was dealing with identity issues. I didn’t grow up in Mexico so I don’t really embrace it as my culture. I was adopted as a baby so all I knew was the culture and environment that I grew up in. My Mom always encouraged opportunities to learn more about my birth country, but I never had the desire to do so. With that said, I respect the fact that I do have a bloodline rooted in Mexico. That has encouraged me as an adult, to be more open to the culture of my bloodline.
Growing up I separated myself in all ways from being associated with the Mexican culture. Visually people would assume I spoke Spanish or celebrated traditional customs of Mexico. Although the opportunity to learn about them was always available to me, I didn’t see myself as Mexican.
People always assumed my Sister was my Girlfriend. People would randomly come up to me and start speaking in Spanish, or would practice their Spanish on me. I had to have the awkward moment of telling them I did not speak Spanish – In High School I took French. Although my family was very open to different cultures and backgrounds, I was often reminded how others in the world do not.
What do you think your parents did right?
My parents always kept Adoption as an open topic. At any point could I ask questions, or discuss adoption related topics. It was never made into a big deal. It was what it was. My parents also kept some items from Mexico that they shared with me as a young child to help teach me about where I did come from. They also made the options open to attend different cultural events that were related to my Mexican background.
What do you wish your parents would have done differently?
I think if anything, take me to Mexico as a younger teen to get a better understanding of where I did come from, even if I couldn’t relate to it. I would have liked better understanding of figuring out health related issues leading into adulthood. The worst question to get asked as an adult is, “Tell me about your family medical history.” With the complexity of international adoption process, getting any kind of medical information can often be a big hurdle.
What is something you wish more adoptive parents understood?
Parenting is hard. It doesn’t matter if it is parenting a child you adopted, gave birth to, or assisting in the parenting as an extended relative. Parenting is just a challenge. Each child is different. Each situation is different. The only thing any form of parent can do is to gather as many tools in their parenting belt as possible. You will be ready when the situation or questions arises.
Adoption centric situations will arise. Like when your child has to do his/hers first “Family Tree” assignment in school. Maybe you child will have different feelings about his/her identity. It is possible that your child will have to deal with racism or bigotry that is around in the outside world of a loving family. These situations will come. Having resources and building your network of go-to people is key.
Each child deserves Love, Honesty, and Support.
If you consider yourself pro-adoption, why would you encourage prospective parents to adopt?
I am pro-adoption if it is the best choice for the family. There is something special when two people find the child that they are supposed to have. Yes some adoptions are saving children from a life of turmoil or societal challenges. Children never want to feel like a charity case, but instead know that they are loved. You will not need to remind your child every day that he/she is adopted, but every day be prepared to be asked a tough question. Parents who adopt are often too worried that they will say the wrong thing and cause years of adult therapy. To the future parents thinking about adoption: You will be fine. Most of the challenge will be trying to figure out how to get your child to eat baby food. You will have to determine how you are going to master nap time. You will have to be ready for a little one running into your room because they had a bad dream, or just trying to stay up past their bed time.
Adopting a child is an amazing journey. Not an easy one. In the end you will hopefully be matched with your child who just needs a supportive loving home.
How does adoption continue to impact you and your family?
The impact as an adult is answering the questions from my niece. She is started to understand the differences between me and her mom. It is balancing answering her questions honestly, while keeping it age appropriate. The education about adoption continues even as an adult to others.
Do you think adoption benefited you in any way?
I think personally adoption has put me in the position to be able to educate and talk about the adoption process and my perspective. Being an open book about adoptions has forced me to look at different perspectives and be willing to be real about my own emotions and thoughts about adoptions and the journey of being adopted.
What awesome things are you doing today?
Today I am always down to talk about my perspective of being adopted. Being adopted is not all that I am. It is a part that a value, but there is more to me than being adopted. I am a freelance writer and digital communicator. I write about men’s style, lifestyle, travel and pop-culture. If people are talking about it, I probably have an opinion about it.
I have my own website SocialClub19.com that focuses on men’s style topics. I am a travel writer for Visit Indy’s official travel blog Doingindy.com. I contribute to Patternindy.com an Indy based fashion network and international fashion magazine. Yes I am always down to tweet or talk about adoption, but I always can talk a lot about what is happening in the world around us.
MLJ Adoptions will be hosting an informational session on adopting from Latin America on Saturday, April 12 from 10:00 – 12:00. The event will take place at our offices located at 617 E. North Street, Indianapolis, IN. Families unable to travel into our offices may participate in the event via live cast. Please RSVP for either event here. You may obtain more information on adopting from Latin America here.