“A lot of times people think the journey starts like right when you get the name of somebody, your birth parents’ name. And then the journey ends right when you meet them for the first time. And that’s just not true.” -Angela Tucker.
I had the pleasure of briefly saying hello to Angela Tucker at the American Adoption Conference last April, 2015 in Massachusetts. She has a poise and an elegance about her, and she is always smiling. A bright, beautiful smile. I watched her give a speech with the other members of the group Lost Daughters. They each spoke about their experiences related to being transracially adopted.
Angela had big plans in store after the conference. She was taking her story to an enormous audience, working hard in creating a TV series called The Adopted Life. The first episode (watch it here!) took place in Washington D.C., with Angela sitting in a studio and interviewing transracial adoptees, ages 10 to early 20s. By definition, a transracial adoptee is a person who is (1) adopted and (2) of a different ethnicity than his or her adoptive parents.
I thoroughly enjoyed that she interviewed a variety of ages. Many questions that Angela asked were those you can ask any adoptee, transracial or not. The answers would be similar. She asked what it was like to be adopted. Anybody who is adopted has an answer to this.
One lady she interviewed was adopted from Vietnam and has two Caucasian parents. She explained how growing up at times was difficult, and when she was younger she was embarrassed because she looked nothing like her parents. I understand how an adoptee with a different ethnicity from his or her parents would feel this way, but I also think this feeling applies to most adoptees, transracial or not. Many adoptees from the same race do not look like their adoptive family. Their feelings could and may easily mirror those of some transracial adoptees.
Those interviewed said they wanted to know their genes, know where they came from. Again, this is a common sentiment among all adoptees. Angela interviewed this little 10-year-old girl named Abeba who was adopted from Ethiopia. She asked her about what she thought about when she thought of her birth mom. Abeba answered with an answer many adoptees would echo: “I want to meet her someday. I would say hello, and I would feel emotional.”
Angela had a beautiful ability to tie in bits of her own adoption story when speaking with her interviewees. I think this was a great idea, in that it will help viewers understand that those being interviewed were not alone in their thoughts and comments.
One interviewee explained how she was fearful that the reality of her birth parents’ story was that something really big and bad had happened to them. She then said she knew that probably was not the case, but she didn’t have any idea. One interviewee stated how she had just started the search process for her birth parents, but she was trying to prepare herself for the possibility that she wouldn’t find them. These conversations are the same conversations that are had with non-transracial adoptees.
Now, Angela did touch on a couple ideas that are indeed issues for transracial adoptees. One was fear of losing their culture, and knowing and learning where they came from. The other idea was the fear of losing their original language. These are fears I can’t relate to. These fears are why I believe it is so important for adoptive parents to teach their adoptive children the culture from where they came from, and let them learn the language if they so wish. Let them become immersed in their culture through school programs and classes, and maybe even take them back to the country from which they were adopted.
The first episode of The Adopted Life was enjoyable to watch, but it wasn’t that much different than any other set of interviews with adoptees. What I took away from the episode is that in reality, transracial adoptees are not that different from non-transracial adoptees. All of us adoptees feel to some extent that we do not share our adoptive parents’ physical traits and most likely some of their hobbies. In the end, we are all trying to search for our genetic makeup.