Happy first day of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, celebrate and embrace your heritage and culture. Know your roots
“It may be Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, but if you open your eyes you’ll find our heritage in ever day of the year.” - Beau Sia
Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month by researching your culture, learning something new whether it’s traditional dancing, music, or martial arts, or even our local native scripts like Baybayin and Kulitan. Embrace our rich Filipino heritage and culture and know your roots, yourself.
Advice to Adoptive Parents - Stephanie D.
Yellowface Still Exists Today
Why So Angry?
By: Dr. John Raible
At the risk of speaking for other adoptees,
We want to feel like we belong, unconditionally.
We want to feel welcome wherever we go.
We want to not be stared at when we go out with our families.
We don’t want to be asked, Is that your real mother/sister/brother/father?
We don’t want to be asked, Would you rather have been left in the orphanage/group home/foster home/street to die?
We want people to keep their hands off our hair.
We want people to stop being curious about our skin, our eyes, our hair, our bodies.
We want to feel normal.
We want to be treated as mature adults and not little children.
We want our sealed records to be unsealed already.
We want our original birth certificates.
We want our foster care files, and our orphanage records.
We want to be able to know for certain if the person we are about to have sex with is biologically related to us.
We want to know where our biological siblings are.
We want to be able to contact our first families—our foster families who took care of us, our biological families whose genetic and cultural heritage we share, our blood brothers and sisters left behind in orphanages and group homes.
We want ALL our questions answered.
We don’t want to be paid for, to be sold, or treated like commodities.
We don’t want to be told we are “lucky.”
We don’t want to be abused.
We don’t want to be exploited.
We don’t want to be studied, researched, and psychoanalyzed, especially when research studies merely justify the pain we have been forced to endure.
We don’t want non-adopted people to build careers off our pain and our struggles.
We don’t want to be the “diversity experience” for our school, our house of worship, our neighbors, or our families.
We don’t want to be told how to feel—don’t feel so angry, don’t feel so sad. Don’t feel bitter. Feel happy, feel grateful, feel lucky.
We want information about diseases we may be carrying, and medical conditions we may be susceptible to.
We want to not have to leave page after page blank when we go to the doctor and give our medical history.
We want to be treated the same as the children born into our adoptive families.
We want our legal inheritance rights to never be contested at the reading of the wills.
We want to be treated without teasing about our origins, as if we aren’t really part of the family.
We don’t want to be told that we aren’t really African American or Asian American, that we’re not real Indians or Latinos, as if we are somehow a fake version of our ethnicity of origin.
We want to be able to go to the store, the movies, the park, or the mall and not be followed around, stared at and singled out.
We want to not be called names, teased, or bullied because we are different.
We want to fit in, and to be able to blend into our environment.
We want to be around people who look like us.
We want to be around other families that resemble ours.
We want to know LOTS of other adopted people.
We don’t want to forever be the oddball, the token, the weirdo, the one who was obviously adopted.
We want to control who knows our adoption status and who gets to hear our adoption story.
We want to be treated with respect.
We want to be loved.
We want to be listened to.
We don’t want to be patronized.
We don’t want to be your token.
We don’t want to be your Asian / Black /Latino /Native /Pacific Islander /African friend.
We don’t want to have our so-called issues ridiculed.
We don’t want to be pathologized.
We want to see ourselves and our families reflected realistically on TV, at the movies, in magazines, and in advertisements.
We want to be part of the majority.
We want the privileges that others get just by being born into their families.
We want to NOT have to decide whether or not to search.
We want information about our origins collected and safeguarded for us for when we are ready to receive it.
We want the power of self-determination.
We want first class–not second class– citizenship. No questions asked.
We want to know how to act Colombian or Black or Native or Korean or Indian or Guatemalan or Ethiopian or Chinese so that when we meet others who look like us, we can fit in and feel comfortable, instead of anxious, unsure of ourselves, incompetent and scared.
We want our families to stand with us against racism, against genocide, and against the destruction of our birth families and communities.
We want families who believe us when we say something racist just happened.
We want our families to speak out against prejudice and oppression.
We want our classmates and teachers to stop being ignorant and small-minded about racial differences.
We want adults to stop romanticizing our cultures.
We want you to stop fetishizing our bodies: our hair, our skin colors, our eyes, our genitals, and other so-called racial differences.
We want you to stop appropriating our culture.
We want families to stop bragging about how they got us.
We want families to stop parading us in front of the company or neighbors.
We want families to stop showing us off in front of the congregation.
We want families to teach us how to be secure in our skin and comfortable with who we are.
We want families to feel as uncomfortable as we often do. Why should we bear the brunt of the racial differences in the family all by ourselves?
We want to have allies by our side, to trust that somebody’s got our back.
We want to learn about our countries and communities of origin. But we don’t want to be forced to go to “culture camp.”
We don’t want to be forced to follow your religion.
We want to be able to ask questions without worrying about hurting anyone’s feelings or risking our place in the family.
We want to be able to talk about our birth families without our adoptive relatives becoming uncomfortable or angry.
We want to be able to talk about our adoptive families without our birth relatives becoming sad.
We want to be able to express how we really feel without you getting mad or sad.
We want to be able to get information when we want it.
We want to be able to not be subjected to insensitive remarks or intrusive questions from random strangers, neighbors, and even friends.
We want the same gifts that the kids born into the family get from extended family members.
We don’t want to have to wonder all the time if this is an adoption-related issue.
We don’t want to have to wonder all the time if something happened because of our race.
We don’t want to be treated like your pet, your project, or the object of your missionary zeal.
We want to be ourselves.
We don’t want to be a poster child for someone else’s cause.
We want to be able to choose.
We want to be able to love more than one set of parents and one set of siblings.
We want to be able to live without waiting for some surprise to pop up unexpectedly: some long lost relative or birth parent, some former caregiver surprising us out of nowhere.
We want the security of knowing that we will never be abandoned again.
We want to be told the truth, and not some feel-good fantasy of “how much we were loved so that is why we were given away.”
We want to trust that our place in our family is forever secure.
We want to believe that we are as capable and lovable as the next person.
We want security.
We want free and fluid identities.
We want inner peace.
We want freedom from racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, and other forms of oppression.
We want social justice.
When we take a stance for freedom and social justice, we want allies standing with us.
We don’t want to carry the burden of difference alone.
We don’t want to fight our battles alone.
We don’t want to fight for adoption reform by ourselves.
We don’t want to fight racism by ourselves.
We want equality NOW.
We want freedom.
We want justice.
We want to be with each other, with fellow adoptees.
We want to be in charge of our lives.
We want our humanity.
We want community.
We want our first families back.
We want our given names.
We want to speak our native languages.
We want our original citizenship reinstated, and dual citizenship if we were forced to leave our motherland.
We want to feel that we count.
We want to feel wanted for who we really are, not who you want us to be.
We want to feel that we matter.
We want to feel real.
We want to be left alone.
We don’t want to feel like the outsider.
We want to blend in.
We want a space to breathe in and breathe out without someone questioning us or invalidating our experience.
We want adoption to be about us and what we need, and not about parents–birth parents or adoptive parents.
We want adoptee empowerment.
We want to be able to take a break from being adopted. Frankly, it’s exhausting.
Finally, we want transracial adoption not to hurt so damn much.
My Story - Special Occasion Speech for Public Speaking Class
Thank you, Salamat Po
I’ve been an active member of Filipino School also formally known as Paaralang Pilipino since 2007. If it wasn’t for my family friend, Tita Rose Tutay, I would have never stumbled upon this “Pearl of the Midwest.” I would have never known anything about my roots. And I would have never known what really defines Filipino or for myself, a Filipino American without the hyphen.
I was a white person in an Asian body, a Filipino who might have lost his way. A literal coconut as some say - Brown on the outside but white on the inside. I felt a sense of belongingness for the first time of my life attending Paaralan. However, simultaneously, I felt and experienced culture shock from being away from my pre-disposed culture, the Philippines. I did not know where “my people” or I came from and was unsure of my destiny as to what I wanted to do with my life. I was a foreigner. I could not relate to nor speak in the same tongue as everybody else. We all had the same color of skin in variants of brown. We had almond shaped eyes. And we had thick black hair. Although we looked similar, I was so different.
The madness all began when I was bombarded with questions around the time of my early adolescent years of 14-16 years old. These were simple questions of incorrectly asked “What is your nationality?” along with “Where are you from?” and correctly “What is your ethnicity or ethnic background?” Diving deeper are personal ones and incorrect terms such as “Do you know your “real” parents?” Questions I could and could not answer. The search began by immersing in music, language, and youtube videos displaying sound trips of my motherland. I reminisce of the foster family that raised me temporarily in Cebu City, the orphanage where understaffed nurses and social workers show love and care for the children staying there, and dug deeper to find out about my abandonment.
My 18th birthday was approaching. My adoptive mother didn’t want to show me but my only wish was that I get to see my adoption papers as my gift from them. I was born in a small village called Mabuli located in the district of Tabogon. Word travels fast due to gossip and it isn’t densely populated while the culture is very tightly knit. A plastic bag hanging upon a banana tree was my first crib after being newly born. Shortly after being found by a farmer, I was shortly taken to the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) and was placed in the Reception and Study Center for Children (RSCC), which in turn brought me to my foster family and then adopted by my white American family – The Wilsons. I experienced drastic changes of where potatoes became my rice and spaghetti became my pancit, which is similar to Chow Mein. Fast forwarding to when I was 16 years old, I met a woman by the name of Rose Tutay. She became the first Filipino that I have met upon being adopted. We had coffee and talked about Filipino culture as she tried to find distinct Filipino mannerisms since being adopted at a toddler age –unlike my Asian counterparts: Chinese and Korean. The only thing I knew about being particularly Filipino was looking in the mirror. What separated me from me from other Asians was being brown. And what separated me even more was being the only “full blooded” Filipino.
Until she introduced me to Paaralang Pilipino, I only knew bits and pieces of the puzzle and could not find my piece. I learned everything that came in my path about my heritage when being part of the Filipino History Class and Pilipino Language course. I continued to learn for three years until the director of Education at Paaralan saw my passion for Cultural identity and could contribute not only as a mentor, but as the lead mentor of the school. I thank Tita Rose Tutay for bringing me to Filipino School. I thank you all for teaching me and helping me find my place and roots. I am honored to be appointed as the lead mentor of Filipino school. My life experiences as well as everything I learned have taught me a great deal in giving back to the community as the lead mentor. As an international adoptee? I hope to help those who don’t know how to look back at where he or she came from to find themselves again.
Korean Adoptees from the Out of the Margins: Asian American Movement Building Conference which was held at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Starting on the left are Rachel Sisco, Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood who was elected to represent the Downriver communities of Southeast Michigan following three terms in the Michigan state assembly, and the last girl I cannot recall her name since it is not listed.
All shared their stories as adoptees which varied; however, they all share the same idea that as international adoptees, introduction to cultural heritage is important when an adoptee needs exposure to discussions about race, discrimination and prejudice and know how to respond positively.