Porter, Miles. Personal Interview, 20, Feb. 2015
Name: Miles Porter
Hobbies: I play baseball and I listen to a lot of music.
Who's in your family?
My family… There are four of us. It’s me, my mom and dad, and my little sister. And me and my little sister are adopted.
Tell me about yourself?
Well people how have known me for a long time know that I’m very outgoing. I enjoy making people smile. You know I just like having a good time everybody and if, since everybody knows me very well, like people who do know me, everybody knows that I do love baseball. I’m playing baseball in college for the next four year.
What college? Why?
Probably Millikan University; well it has a nice campus and has a good business management program. I just feel very connected to that school so far. But I haven’t committed yet, but that’s most likely where I’m going to go.
How does baseball influence your life?
Baseball has influenced my live… well before we moved to Evanston we lived in Wrigley Ville. So we were down the street from Wrigley Field, and as a kid I would go down to the Cubs games with my dad. And if I didn’t get into a game there’s a little gate on the outfield where you can just watch the game from the outfield from the side of the stadium. So that’s what I would do. I’d watch the games and I would just admire that games and then I played baseball in Chicago before I moved here. So just watch them really made me fall in love with the game. So that’s where I started.
Why did you move from Wrigley Ville to here?
I think, um, all the schools, cause right when we moved we had Dawes, Chute, and then Evanston. So that’s why we moved here and the diversity also in Evanston.
Date you were adopted?
The date that I was adopted, I think….no I don’t
Where were you adopted?
I was adopted in Springfield, I think like a couple of days after I was born… so right off the bat.
Can you tell me about the day you were adopted?
The day that I was adopted, um…. well my parents came in, actually they got a call because they signed up to adopt children, I don’t know how that worked. I know they got a call about this African American boy who was just born about two or three days ago. Then my mom and dad said yes so quickly to the point that probably ten minutes they got off the phone they were already in the car on their way to Springfield. So I was, um, I was picked up probably, I would probably say three to four hours after they even heard about me. So that’s what happened, yeah. What did they do when they first got you? Um my dad had this little weird outfit that he wanted to put me in as soon as he saw me and my birth mom was there. And she congratulated my parents. They both talked and conversed, told them what I am. Like what races I am and that’s just how it went. It was hard for my mom. But she knew what was best for me at the time. That was the whole time and then I came home and yeah and went on from there.
When did you know that you were adopted? When did your parents tell you?
When did I know, I probably knew probably like, I don’t know. I think I realized it when I was two. My mom told me like unfolded the story like this is happening and this happened and you’re adopted. And I was like “Oh, cool! Yeah. But you’re still mom.” I see her as mom. So yeah
Do you talk openly about adoption?
Yes, kind of. It depends on who I am talking about it with. I’ll talk to you about it openly. But someone who’s not, someone who hasn’t known me from, I would say like, from elementary school or a little below that is kind of hard for me to open up about it. But most people know.
Do you think it can be hard to form relationships?
No, not at all. Well I was adopted into a Jewish family and my mom’s side of the family as very welcoming and very open people. I am so close with my family it is crazy. They are just very humble, great people. My dad’s side of the family is the same exact way. So it was never, I never had this feeling go of “oh I’m not going to fit into my family.” Because once I was adopted they were like that’s family adopted, blood, or not. That is our cousin. That is our nephew, whatever. That was just welcoming. It never made a difference for me.
Do you have any adoptive friends?
Let’s see we got Ben, Isaac, and a couple of my friends from Chicago, they are like preschool buddies so I don’t really remember them but that’s the most I can remember right now.
How do your adoptive friends help you through your adoption story?
Sometimes me and Ben, we’ll talk about it. We’ll be like “yeah man” sometimes this happens or that happens. And be like “yeah I understand what you’re saying.” So in a way me and Ben really connect on the same way, same with Isaac. So, I don't know, I haven’t had issues with my family either sides but I’ll talk to someone else who has.
How do you definition of identity?
Who I am as a person.
What do you identify as? Why?
I just say I am a Black Jew., that’s it. Overall I am proud of who I am, skin color when it comes to me being black and then other races that I’m mixed with you know. I think I consider myself more Jewish because I have been brought up more Jewish. It’s been more enforced on me a little bit hard. So it’s like I had a Bar Mitzvah. My little sister just had her Bat Mitzvah like three weeks ago. So you know I think I just go off of how I’ve been raised. But I do know that I’m black so it’s cool and I’m Jewish at the same time. I think it’s awesome. I embrace it.
How has your religion impacted your identity?
It plays a decent role. You know, when I am playing baseball, I have this ritual that I do after like if I hit a home run or I get a base hit I always thank God. I’ll do this motion with my hand and look up and point to the sky. So I’m just, I don't know, because I think I have been adopted into a very fortunate family, like a very wealthy family. So I think I really owe it to the big guy up there. Like I always thank God, so it plays a pretty strong role in my life.
What is your adoptive family’s heritage played into your identity?
It plays a big role because basically, what… how do I explain this… Basically the way they see life and the way they approach things. The way we celebrate a holiday when it comes to anything or the way we approach people or the way we are. It’s I am the same way they are. It’s basically the way they have been, it’s worn off on me. That just how it is.
What is identity to you? What’s its importance?
Well identity to me is how you see yourself. You know my identity to myself is basically I am a humble person who doesn’t take anything for granted and it could be identity to other people could be how other people see you. It’s just really how you feel about yourself. It’s almost the amount of confidence you have in yourself as a person.
How does adoption play into your identity?
A big part. I know you know my birth family was not high in the food chain. I’ve been adopted into a family that is not even close to that in any kind of way. So you know it really makes me like when I see an opportunity I take it. Well if I see the opportunity that I love and I want then I will take it. So it make me appreciate life overall in general. Because I know coming from my birth family I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be the way I am right now. It would be two different Miles. So it just, you know plays a huge part.
How has your identity changed from elementary school to high school?
Um you know… how much...I would say when I was younger I was very energetic I would now how to sit down. So whenever I would meet somebody when I was younger I would go crazy. Like “wow a new friend. I must make this person know me.” Yeah um in elementary school I just didn’t really interact with people well but I was never shy to meet somebody. But in middle school I got shy for some weird reason. Cause you know you see everyone else grow up. Everybody’s getting into their own trends coming to school wearing this, wearing that. And then I learned from middle school and came to high school and I told myself “you just got to be comfortable with yourself.” and that’s exactly how everything shaped up. I think I just gained more confidence as a person coming from Dawes and Chute.
Do you have a lot of black friends or white friends or a mix?
It was a mix of everything literally I would say my closer friends I would say actually I couldn't say one they're black and white. So, overall I would say it’s just a lot of diversity. Maybe a little bit more white not on purpose but just the way it played out. Because playing baseball there are more white kids and I developed a relationship with them. So that’s why I’ve gotten to this point. But overall I would say it’s pretty diverse. It’s not just one set race.
Do feel part of the adoption community?
Do you feel included in the community as an adoptee?
Yes. Yeah absolutely
How does you race and your parents’ race play into your identity?
So with my mom’s family you know, I feel with my mom’s family you know… I have to … I don’t have to; I literally talk the way I talk to them the way I talk to you. But I know there is a little bit different, like with my mom’s side of the family I have to be a little more proper. With my dad’s side of the family it’s a little more relaxed. You know my mom’s side of the family they are mostly from Highland Park and they all live in big houses. Like they go to Florida like it’s nothing. Like “Oh. I’m going to Florida,” like no you don’t just go to Florida. And on my dad’s side of the family they live in Englewood where there are shootings where there are killings every other day. So, it’s a little more with my mom’s side of the family I kind of just have to, you know, I have to be a little bit more proper. I have to kind of eat up right a little bit and pull my sleeves down probably. With my dad’s side of the family it’s just like “what’s up man? How’ve you been?” all of that, like a street talking kind of way. Not trying to seem like I talk “black” but it’s a relaxed kind of style. But I love both sides of them equally. So you know.
Do you like learning about your heritage?
I love it. I love learning about that. I love hip-hop. I love listening to African American artist talk about what they’ve been through their music and just empowering others. I love seeing black artist become successful whether it’s hip hop or not. Because of the way black people are seen in the community. You know it’s amazing how one voice can change like a whole people. You could create a whole movement. So rappers like Kendrick Lamar, who’s like a role model to me. When I listen to him I’m like “wow you could actually make a difference in your life.” Not only in his life but other people’s lives. Because he came from nothing, so to see him do what he does from where he came from and being black at the same time, it’s amazing to me.
Did you struggle with any identity issues?
Identity…. kind of… I think maybe apparel wise like growing up dark skinned maybe. That was hard for me at one point in my life. Like you know this whole light skin, dark skin trend which is so stupid to me. But I think I would just struggle with it, me and many other kids. Like you know people would make jokes and when I was younger I didn’t know how to handle it. I would think to myself “man, why do I look like this?” I’d go home crying “mom why am I like this?” I think that’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to identity wise. But besides that no.
What stereotypes have you faced?
I’ve deal with a lot of the obvious ones about black people. Kids asking me, I remember being asked “do you know how to read?” “Oh you play baseball? That’s a white man sport. What are you doing in a white man’s game?” Man…I've hear a lot of things. I heard stuff like ridiculous things like “oh have you heard that most white people deep down hate black people in some type of way from the origin?” I’m like “you don’t sound real right now.” It wasn’t true but just hearing the ignorance of that person. It was just stupid to me. That’s about it…. how did I deal with it? Well some of them I would just be like whatever. With baseball I would be like “have you ever heard of freakin’ Jackie Robinson or Ken Griffey Jr.?” or just a lot of great African American athletes who play baseball like Bo Jackson. And when it came to the whole “do you know how to read” thing, “have you ever heard of a president named Barack Obama?” That how white person that was so stupid that’s not even true there’s nothing that would prove that’s not true there is nothing morally right about what you just said. With me it’s just about common sense. Just know your facts, that’s what I tell myself.
Do you have a need to want to fit in need if that means changing yourself?
Yeah, I think when I find a new friend group I kind of change it a bit more. I am kind of quiet. I’ll laugh at jokes that aren’t funny to me “that was an utterly terrible.” I’ll laugh like “ha ha good one.” I sometimes change the way I dress. I’ve done it once or twice. But I don’t do it the way that I used to. I actually don’t do it at all now. That’s about it.
Do you have any role models who look like or come from the same background as you?
Not too much, no. You know I look up to a lot of other artist. A lot of rap artist came from the background like ghetto house hold and they worked their way up or they sold drugs, which I didn’t do obviously but it’s inspiring. So, not really it’s just a lot of hip hop artist.
Do you know your birth family?
[He knows his birth family]
Do you keep in touch?
Have you meet your birth family face to face?
I think… the day I got adopted. I had brothers and sisters. Yeah I’m one of six. I was adopted and I haven’t seen any of them.
Do you want to meet your birth family?
Oh yeah I would love to meet them, absolutely, easily
What are your feelings towards your birth family?
I don’t have really a lot of feelings towards them to be honest. Because the family I grew up with that’s literally my family to me. So I don’t have too many, I don’t have any love connections towards them. I don’t feel like “oh man, this happened. I’m done.” It’s more like I don’t know you. And the reality I don’t. But there is still something there but at the end of the day I don’t know you much.
What are some question questions you would like to ask them?
I would ask them any type of questions that I would ask when I’m meeting somebody.
What do you do? What do you listen to? What’s your favorite hobby? Do you play any sports? What school do you go to? Where do you want to go to college? Do you want to go to college? The simple questions, just ask them how their lives have been growing up. Because I know not all of us were adopted.
Do you think you were abandoned or place for adoption? Why?
I think they thought it through and placed me for adoption. I think they made a really good decision cause I would have been born into a really, really bad situation. So you know for me to be one of two out of the six that have been adopted. I think is really important that they really thought about it. We cannot have these last two going through what we are going through. So they need to go on and have a better life. I really appreciate that.
Your sister is also adopted. Where is she adopted from?
I don’t know where Lea is adopted from. I know that she was adopted in Chicago. Her birth mom almost didn’t want to give her up at first. But she already agreed to all the paperwork and had said yes to everything. And my dad that day handled it like he did with me. Not the day of, but the day after he got the call he was like “yup I want to go pick up my daughter right now.” So that day they went to go pick her up the birth mom kind of gave my parents a hard time about it trying to convince them. But my dad was like “sorry no.” So that’s how all that worked out. And here she is today.
Do you and your sister talk about adoption?
We don’t really talk about adoption together. It’s actually a touchy subject for her. Like she doesn’t know how to deal with it yet. But she knows that she had an amazing family. Me and my sister are close, like she knows me better than anybody. So it’s just a touchy subject for her, I don’t bring it up. Like my parents would really like me talk about it with her and I know that she is one of 9. It’s hard for her talk about it. She doesn’t like talking about it. Cause she loves where she is now and doesn’t want to think about where she could have been.
What is your opinion on adoption?
I think adoption is a beautiful thing. I think if a parent knows that they can’t take care of their child they just had and there is no way that you can really take care of this baby well like you really should and you know you’re not fit for it and you know someone out there can take your child and raise them into a great person or until they’re grown. I think when you take that opportunity to basically save a life sometimes like for me. I think it great.
What are positive effects of adoption?
Positive effects of adoption… a lot of kids come out of situations where it wouldn’t be, wouldn’t go well for them to stay where they were. So I think it’s good for them for most people I know who are adopted have great lives and actually probably some of the most genuine people I know easily out of anybody. I think it helps people realize that they should really appreciate life a lot more.
What are negative effects on adoption?
Negative effects… there could actually be a lot. They could be dealing with identity, dealing with “why did my mom not love me?”, or “why did my mom or dad not want me?” Like those kind of arguments. Just kind of questioning themselves and who they are. Like was I not good enough. Some people live with that chip on their shoulder for the rest of their lives and it kills them. So that the negative group of things that could mentally go on or physically go on sometimes.
What is your advice to other adoptees?
I’ll tell people who are adopted to love yourself take life by the horns and just go there is not a thing bad about you at all. Just because you are adopted doesn’t mean your parents did not want you. It either they could afford to take care of you or they weren’t fit to be parents at the time. So literally it’s just appreciate life and live life you are no different from anybody else. Literally you are not any less than anybody in this world. We are all humans, we breathe air. So just love life.