It gets more complicated when I try to explain why we chose to adopt Korean children. Prior to adopting, we had no connections to Korea, Koreans, Korean Americans. We knew one family in our neighborhood that was in the process of adopting from Korea. We looked at various programs, and simply came to this decision because it felt right.
At the start of our adoption journey, our expectations looked something like this - all based on what we had learned through infertility support, through our adoption agency, and through gut feeling:
- We expected to have a typical family life.
- We expected to learn about our children's culture and homeland.
- We expected to exercise "parental control" over how much of that culture to weave into our family, and that the decision would focus on our family rather than its individual members.
- We expected to raise our children as if they had been born to us, not to others.
- We have a typical family life.
- We've learned about our children's culture and homeland, but we've discovered that it's equally - perhaps more - important to know their community, its issues and its challenges. The Korean American community has become our community, and its members are now our friends. I never anticipated how deeply I would connect with this community.
- We have come to realize that nurturing our children's cultural identity isn't our parental choice, it's our children's right. I didn't anticipate how firmly I would believe how "non-negotiable" this is, and how much of my life would focus on spreading this message.
- Our children were born, they have birth families who are real, our phantom extended family - ever-present in our imaginations, hopefully with us some day in reality. This is the most unexpected facet of our family's reality.