I am Jessenia Arias.
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How can I help you? Through my 1-on-1 tea time talks you will discover:. How to view challenging times as an adoptive parent as a time to strengthen and grow your relationship with your adopted child. Simple but oh so powerful tips to help you become that rock star adoptive mom that adoptees will approve of. But any return insults withered and died in my throat. He made more faces, his eyes still pulled back tight; I wondered if he could see. But inside of me, something still and deep, something precious, had broken. After that day, when I heard more words like that from him and other classmates — when adults I met questioned my nationality or my lack of an accent, or measured me against stereotypes that were true in their minds — I would, to some degree, expect it.
Each and every time I found myself on the defensive, defining an identity that seemed to require endless explanations, it would remind me of that day at recess when I learned what a slur meant , even if I did not yet know the name for it. And maybe I should have known to be angry as a child. Maybe I should have realized that others were the problem, not me. I remember I could tell my parents only part of the truth.
I said that someone had made fun of me for being adopted. This felt like a different kind of humiliation, one I could not expect them to understand. How could I tell them they were wrong? They have both always possessed a rather low opinion of human nature, and spitefulness, even outright cruelty, from an ignorant boy could not have shocked them.
I tried, but the schoolyard taunts multiplied, spreading beyond the first boy to other classmates. When they tried out new words, or told me to go back to China, or babbled in their made-up languages, no one stood up for me.
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Who you were in second grade was who you were in fourth grade and who you were in sixth. So the taunts would continue, all the way until I completed sixth grade and moved on to another school. The closest anyone ever got to noticing what was going on was when my second-grade teacher alluded to my general unhappiness on my third-quarter report card. But my grades were always good, and I was targeted only when there were no teachers around.
Hi! I am Jessenia Arias.
I never had a name for what was happening. My parents and I had certainly never discussed the possibility that I might encounter bigots within my school, our neighborhood, our family, in places they believed were safe for me. The strange thing was that, inside, I always felt I was the same as everyone around me. When I was young I certainly felt more like a white girl than an Asian one, and sometimes it was shocking to catch a glimpse of my face in the mirror and be forced to catalog the hated differences; to encounter tormentors and former friends and know that what they saw was so at odds with the person I believed I was.
Why did I have to look the way I did—like a foreigner; like my birth parents, two people I would never even meet? If I were a heroine in a fairy tale, I often thought, and a fairy godmother offered to grant me wishes, I would ask for peaches-and-cream skin, eyes like deep blue pools, hair like spun gold instead of blackest ink.
I knew I would be worthy of it all. If you were pretty, if you were normal, if you were white , then the good things everyone saw on the outside would match the goodness you knew existed on the inside. When the couple hoping to adopt asked me what it had been like to grow up the Korean child of white parents — Was it all right? Had I ever minded it?
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That sometimes it still bothered me, because while I had finally found another life for myself, my story was still not quite what others expected when they saw me. After my alarmed parents spotted the tiny bald spot on the left side of my head, I spent a year and a half in play therapy with a counselor. I talked to her about how I felt, though now I cannot remember what I said; I know she in turn talked to my parents. An Asian baby doll appeared under the tree one Christmas, specially ordered, though I was probably a little too old for dolls.
At nine, I turned on the television one night to discover Kristi Yamaguchi, my first Asian American childhood hero, being cheered by crowds and adored in a way I did not think people who looked like me could be. I wrote stories, dozens of them, about other people, other lives I craved. I stopped twirling my hair.
Eventually, I stopped seeing the therapist. But I would never forget the hair-pulling, would never be able to think of it without deep and terrible shame. If I still felt I did not belong, I decided I could not allow others to see it.
The only way out of my school, out of this town, was to grow up and leave. By the time I met the young wife and husband who were nothing and everything like my own parents, I had run as far as I could to college and spent years fighting to define myself in ways that had nothing to do with being Korean or adopted. Now I was able to call out bigotry only when it was staring me in the face, and never without a deeply self-conscious blush, a pounding heart, and sharp, squirming discomfort.
So, what does this mean for those who have always wanted to know how to tell if you were adopted? Where do you go from there? For those who suddenly discover that they were adopted later in their lives, there are a number of negative emotions that they may experience, which can potentially include:. It may be able to provide you with a definitive answer if you are in the 2 percent of the U.