A message from Jane Ballback, post adoption guest blogger: My daughter Stacee is guest blogging today! This post is a priceless gift to me from Stacee and was a complete surprise. Thank you for sharing this gift with me by reading on….
by Stacee Ballback
Whenever anybody asks me to explain how my last name is Ballback, why I can’t speak a word of Korean, or how I have two very Caucasian parents when I am very clearly Asian, my answer is always the same, “I was adopted.” The keyword here is “was.”
I never realized that I answered their questions in the past tense until I started noticing that other fellow adoptees answered the same questions, “I am adopted.” It made me realize that being adopted never felt like a state of being for me or like an all-encompassing aspect of my life. Instead, it felt like a single moment early in my life with a definite starting and ending point that happened and then was over. I don’t think that being an adopted child is so easy for everyone; I think some people are forever haunted by their adoption and it stays with them as a reminder throughout their lives that they were unwanted and unloved. I don’t see myself as unloved because I was given up; I see it as an ultimate act of sacrifice and love on my birth mother’s behalf because she wanted a better life for me then she could have provided me with.
A lot of people ask me how old I was and how I felt when my parents first told me that I was adopted, and in all honesty, I can’t remember where, when, what or how they told me. I think part of this lack of a traumatic “ah-ha” moment is due to the fact that I do not look anything like either of my parents. I think when I was young and before I could really understand adoption, I was searching for ways that my mother and I were alike. I remember walking through a parking lot with her on our usual In-n-Out and grocery shopping Sundays (a tradition I still enjoy to this day) and telling her that we looked alike because we both had dark hair. For me, finding out where I came from was more of a gradual discovery process that my parents eased me into, as opposed to a single shocking moment of realization that some adopted children may experience.
But I really think the main reason for this distress-free process is mostly a testament to the wonderful and natural job my parents did of raising me and communicating with me about where I came from. I never felt like I didn’t belong right where I was, and I hardly felt the need to search for my birth parents because I had already been planted in such a warm and loving family. When I was younger, I think my adoption troubled me. I wanted to know who my birth mother was, and I wanted to know why she had given me up. As I got older and more capable of comprehending everything, I realized that being adopted was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
I’m not trying to say that being adopted has not impacted me or that it is an insignificant aspect of my life in anyway, I’m only trying to emphasize that I do not see being adopted as who I am, but rather a part of who I am. I am very content and well assimilated into the American ‘cheeseburger and French fries’ way of life I grew up knowing, and I have my family to thank for this. Of course my adoption plays a large role in the person I am today and probably has a more significant role on a subconscious level, but I think that I am just very happy and grateful for the hand that I was dealt and the perfect childhood I was blessed with from my family. I don’t view my adoption as a dark cloud over my life or a taboo topic, because I grew up with parents that talked openly about it with me and constantly told me they were the luckiest parents in the world. In reality though, my brothers and I are the lucky ones, after all we basically won the lottery of life.
***I want to disclose that my mom didn’t ask me to write this. I wrote it because I’ve spent a lot of time at home this summer watching and listening to her passion and enthusiasm for telling our story.
I wrote it for her and my dad because I know how much they treasure my brothers and me. They both do so much for us that I wanted to do something meaningful for them and I know that writing this will mean more than any material gift I could ever give to them.
Visit Jane’s post adoption blog here