Kelly, Lia. Personal Interview, 3, Mar. 2015
I’m in the circus and I enjoy running.
Who's in your family? Tell me about them
In my family it’s me and my mom... So my mom, her name is Maureen and she works at The Cradle which is an adoption agency. Which is pretty cool.
Tell me about yourself?
I really like arts and crafts. One of my main hobbies that I really like to do in my free time is go to Michael’s and buy art supplies and then do arts and crafts. And another thing I like to do is baking, that’s really been a good passion of mine. Since I was maybe seven when I learned how to bake cookies and then I went onto cupcakes and cakes and a bunch of other different types of stuff.
How is middle school?
I did not have the greatest middle school experience, but I think overall I enjoyed being in middle school I guess. I mean meeting a lot of new people was always really fun. After elementary school I was kind of done with the people I was with for six years. But I had some rough times I guess with some of the girl drama that most people go through. But I think overall I met some pretty cool people. (2:03 girl drama) It was a lot of just girls being mean and picking on you for anything that could get to you that would cause some type of drama for more entertainment I guess. They thought it was really interesting but it becomes a lot and you can lose a lot of friends from that.
Date you were adopted?
I was adopted on July 18th, 2001
Where were you adopted?
I was adopted from Hanoi, Vietnam.
How old were you when you were adopted?
I was six months old at the time
Can you tell me about the day you were adopted? (Paint a picture for me)
I, when I was adopted I was in an orphanage in Hanoi. After I was brought to a clinic, I was put in this orphanage called Calgai. My aunt and my mom came to come and get me. On that day, I think there were a bunch of other families there and they were all getting their babies at the same time as my mom and my aunt were. So I’m pretty sure, my not sure exactly how the day went, but they had photos of who I was already and so they brought out me to my mom and my aunt. On the first day it was really getting me comfortable with new people that I had really never been around, I guess, people of a different race. So I guess I didn’t see that as often. So it was a lot of just chill down time and getting me used to being around other people. We kind of just hung at the hotel and hung outside.
When did you know that you were adopted? When did your mom tell you?
That has been…., I knew that I was adopted since I was, forever. I got this book telling me my life story, called My Life Book. It explained my adoption story so that a two year old could understand it and understand what was going on. But I didn’t actually maybe process what it really meant to me until I was a little bit older and I understood more of what it was. But I knew from the very beginning that I was adopted and that was part of my life.
Do you talk openly about adoption? Why/when?
I do talk openly about adoption with anyone that’s curious and especially in my family that comes up a lot. I speak openly about adoption because I think it’s something that is part of me and nothing that I can really change or hide at any point because I mean that’s just me. And it’s not worth the effort to try to hide it. If people are curious I think it’s kind of cool that they are wondering about it.
How does your connection with the Cradle help you with adoption?
The Cradle helps me a lot because I get a great understanding about what adoption is. I get the huge side of seeing a baby go home and that’s just such a wonderful moment. It’s really positive about adoption. Then coming here also like this is kind of another part of my home. It’s place where everyone really understands adoption. You know you're not that one kid who’s really adopted and stands out. But it’s a place where people are really understanding.
What is your definition of identity?
My definition of identity is what you make up to be you.
What is the importance of identity?
I think the importance of identity is that people really know who they are and that they can share it with others.
What do you identify as? Why?
I identify myself as…. I would define myself as Asian American because part of me was born in Asia of course and so that’s my Asian part. My American part is that I live and grew up in the United States and am an American citizen.
What is your adoptive family’s heritage?
My mom’s heritage is Caucasian. She grew up in the United States and has lived here her whole life.
Does your whole family accept you as an adoptee?
All my extended family accepts me as an adoptee. I think that for them it’s really anyone who is a part of your family is just family, no matter what, if you were born from this person to that person. I think there are a few other people that are also adopted in my family, which are kind of nice.
What stereotypes have you faced? How have you dealt with it?
A few stereotypes were I guess for the typical Asian stereotype that you are very smart. I guess I was never really in the higher math, which is a typical thing that all Asians are really good at math. I think it’s kind of hard for those who, I guess, aren't. I guess it’s a positive stereotype but it’s also kind of hard if you aren’t on that side of the stereotype. You try to figure out when people kind of make jokes like “oh you’re the Asian that isn’t in the high math.” “I must be smart because I’m smarter than an Asian.” Which was always really hard but at the same time, I never really confronted anyone about it. But it was always kind of there. But it never really bothered me.
Do you have any role models who look like or come from the same background as you?
Some of my role models are, Alison Tie, who, she isn’t necessarily adopted. But her mom works with adoption. She was always a big role model for me in circus as being in circus and being Asian also, she’s half Asian.
Do you celebrate holidays from your home country?
I do celebrate holidays from Vietnam. I think it’s important to know more about the culture I could have lived in. And so it’s important to celebrate it. It kind of makes me feel a little bit more connected to Vietnam.
Are you planning to learn Vietnamese?
I tried to learn Vietnamese but it was really hard I kind of, I didn’t really, yeah I kind of gave up a little bit.
How does your mom integrate Vietnamese culture into your life?
That’s connected to…. We go to culture camp for all Vietnamese kids, which is nice. Getting to learn about the culture all the time and so, celebrating all the holidays. So I get to know about that.
Have you done a homeland trip? How was it? Paint a picture for me (what did it sound like, smell like, feel like?)
I have done a homeland trip. I went back when I was 12 and that was really fun to go back. I got to meet…. I didn’t get to meet my birth parents because I never really wanted to search for that. But I got to meet the nurse that took care of me and brought me to the orphanage, which was really nice to go back. It kind of had a sense of like home for me. (9:55 more in depth) What I, it was really busy all the time wherever you go there’s a lot of people all the time really surrounds you because you are with these two people who don’t look like them. There was obviously something different about you, that you were taller than everyone else in Vietnam. But everyone was very loving and so it was very crowded and always cars driving really fast everywhere. But people would stop and kind of look at me oddly. I guess that I didn’t really fit in with everybody else even though I was still from Vietnam.
You don’t want to search for your birth family, why?
I think that it’s something that is unknown but I’m okay with that being unknown. That I’d like to have, it would be harder for me to know that reason of why I was adopted or just knowing the story and having a relationship with that. That’s kind of better being off unknown.
If you had the chance would you meet your birth family? What would you do? What are the biggest questions you would like to ask them?
I would ask my birth parents when my birthday was. I’ve always really wanted to know that. I think I would also like to tell them how loved I am at home in America because I know some birth parents are always worrying about their kid and how they’re doing. But I think I love being here. I have a great life in America. I have a great second family, or family.
Do you consider you birth parents are dead or fictional characters in your mind? Why?
I kind of think of them as fictional characters I guess.
Do you think you were abandoned or placed for adoption? Why?
I was considered abandoned when I was left in a clinic. But I think that she knew, my birth mom or whoever dropped me off, knew that it was a safe place, that I was going to be adopted but I was not a planned adoption.
What is your opinion on adoption?
I think adoption is great because it gives the birth mothers an option of what they want to do if maybe parenting isn’t right for them. I think it’s just important that the child... the adoptee is informed on why it happened, what happened, and why adoption is a good thing. It gives those who maybe can’t have a child an option for that too.
Would you adopt?
I would adopt. I think that it’s important that, I mean it’s important to me of course because I was adopted and I think that some other kids I think, something that would really be connected to me.
What are positive effects of adoption? What are negative effects on adoption?
Positive you get a whole, great story to tell and people want to listen to. But some of the negatives are that sometimes it’s really overwhelming in how much you over think. What is unknown I guess. There are only so many possibilities that you can make up for your story that’s unknown. It’s always really hard to not know a part of your life that everyone else gets to have.
What is your advice to other adoptees?
My advice for other adoptees is that there are more people out there just like you that are also in the same boat as you. They’re also adopted. They’ve probably gone through the same hard things that you’ve also gone through, but to embrace it. Embrace that you’re adopted and let it be a part of your life.
Kelly, Lia. Personal interview. 3 Mar. 2015.