It’s easy for people to feel like they don’t fit in or don’t belong. That feeling is even stronger when you’re an international adoptee. I love my family–we’re one of the closest families I know–yet I can’t help but feeling like I’m the odd one out. Whenever I look at family photos, I mentally crop myself out and think, “they still look like a family without me”. It doesn’t help when people constantly assume your brother is your boyfriend or that your (white) friend is part of your family and you’re just the friend. It’s hard to tell, I get that, but it doesn’t mean I still feel out of place.
This so-called “in-between” plays a huge role in my life. It’s a blessing and a curse. It defines me but it also destroys me. I’ll never fully fit in with my family’s average “American” image, and at the same time, I’ll never be able to be comfortable in Korea. Even in America, if I run into a Korean, there’s an immediate feeling of inferiority and self-consciousness. It’s not that they’re mean or look down on me, I just know in my mind, I’ll never be able to fully immerse myself after growing up in a completely different country.
That “in-between” spot also comes with endless questions and “what ifs”. What if I was never adopted? What would I be like now? Would I be the same? What would my family and friends be doing? What if my mother declined to meet me? Does she still love me? How do my siblings feel? Would I still be alive? Would I look at life differently?
The questions could go on forever. Again, I’m not saying that just because I’m adopted I have these thoughts that are so unique. Everyone is lost in the world, but being adopted simply adds another factor, another possibility of your life being otherwise. It adds another step in trying to find my identity. What side do I choose to identify myself with? American? Korean? Both? There’s always that fear of betraying the other side by choosing one or the other, but at the same time, is it okay to neglect your own heart? These are the questions I struggle with daily in result of being stuck in the in-between.