Listening to Transracial Adoptees

A Japanese-American woman makes her voice heard.

Crystal Perkins July 10, 2014

JBH-07-19-08I noticed that in the “Transracial/Transcultural Adoption” section of this website most of the posts are from the adoptive parents. Well, I’m here to change that.

This is my first post to Adoption.com. I’m glad to be part of the blogging team, as I’ve been wanting to rededicate myself to blogging about adoption. You see, I was blogging through my own site called Adoption Fusion. But through a series of life events, I had drifted away from blogging. Not that I ever stopped thinking about adoption issues…I just stopped writing about them. Until now.

I have a strong belief that the transracial adoptee voice must be heard, and as you read my posts, you’ll see that I’m “pro-adoption” but I’m also “pro-education.” That’s why it’s important to hear from a transracial adoptee. Families who have brought a son or daughter into their home who has a different skin color than the parents have an obligation to ask questions, seek out resources, and LISTEN to those who have gone before them in this amazingly complex journey of adopted life. You’ll be glad you did.

Just a bit of background: I’m a Japanese-American, domestically-born, Philadelphia-raised, closed-adoption adoptee. I grew up in a family with two parents, an older brother, and a younger sister (both born of my adoptive parents). Yep, I was the middle child. And adopted. Oy.

My mother’s family are recent immigrants from Norway, so I was raised with a strong Norwegian cultural background–lots of Norwegian crafts around the house and a garland of Norwegian flags around our Christmas tree every year. I grew up in Quaker schools (I did mention it was Philadelphia, right?), which is by nature an inclusive environment.

Even with these privileges, I still wrestled with my identity–especially since I didn’t have anyone around me who looked like me. Intellectually, I knew that I was Asian, but mentally I didn’t feel Asian. So when it came time to fill out standardized tests and college applications, I had to ask my father, “Which box do I check?” When he told me to check “Asian/Asian American” it turned out to be a stepping stone to a pivotal moment in my life.

I was invited to a pre-orientation program for incoming students of color at my small women’s college. I was all too happy to arrive on campus early. However, I never realized I would come face-to-face with what it meant to claim my Japanese heritage: it was there that I saw a documentary about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. I though to myself, “If I had been born then, I would have experienced the same fate.”

Throughout college, I immersed myself in all things Japanese by studying East Asian Studies and participating in the Asian Students Association. After graduation I was able to return to my “homeland” Japan. I worked and lived there for twelve years. I met and married my husband (from Minnesota), and both of our sons were born there. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Now that I have returned to the U.S., I work full-time in education but my real passion is to be a voice who speaks out for transracial adoptees so that adoptees know they are not alone and so adoptive families can listen and learn from us as they raise their child(ren). Thank you for reading. I hope my posts are useful ones.

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Crystal Perkins

Crystal is the content manager for Adoption.com. In her free time, she enjoys honing her outdoor photography skills, going on hikes, and hanging out with her husband.


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