Saturday, January 26, 2013

Interview with an Adoptee: Andrew

I actually know quite a few people who were adopted and I'm always thinking of all these questions I'd like to ask them. Of course I manage to find ways to pepper those questions throughout everyday conversations. For some reason, people tend to open up to me. :) But what I really want to do is sit down with them and actually ask them a series of questions and really dig into it. So I decided to use "an interview for my blog" as an excuse. :)

My first interview is with our really good friend Andrew Wyatt. He was adopted as a newborn in the state of Indiana, but he now lives in Utah. He has a completely closed adoption and knows very little about his birth parents. He is bi-racial (half white/ half black) and was transracially adopted into a white family - the only one who was adopted (out of 3 kids).

Zay with Andrew at his wedding reception last year
The feeling I get from Andrew is that family is who you choose them to be. His adoptive family is his family. But he would very much like to meet his birth family one day, to get to know that side of himself.

On with the interview!

***

Alice Anne: At what point in your life did you first start to understand that you were adopted?

Andrew: Probably when I was like 4 years old. I just always knew. My parents were white! Ha ha. My parents were always reminding me or my brothers were always reminding me. They never really had to break it down for me.

Alice Anne: What do you mean “they were always reminding you”? Is that in a negative or a positive way?

Andrew: “We love you, but remember... you were adopted!” Ha ha. No, they would just tell me that even though I was adopted it made no difference, I was still a part of the family.

Alice Anne: How did your parents explain it to you over time?

Andrew: They kind of let me know that if I was ever curious about things or if I wanted to know more all I would have to do is ask. It was kind of left up to me if I wanted to know more and they left it at that. It was weird sometimes because my parents would get nervous about it, but other than that it was fine. I really got curious when I was like 15, 16 years old. I was mostly curious about where I got things from and what my birth parents were like.

Alice Anne: What do you know about your birth family?

Andrew: Nothing. Oh, except that they were both singers and they met in college. I don't know what kind of singers they were, but I know they were both really into singing and were going to college.

Kayla (Andrew's wife): His birth mom was blonde and had blue eyes! The nurses made him a baby book with pictures, but it was destroyed when he was too young to remember the pictures.

Andrew: My birth dad was black and my birth mom was white. I think I remember her height being 5' 10”.

Kayla: I think your mom said they were both tall.

Andrew: I was born and adopted from Indiana. I would assume they were from Indiana, but who knows? They were going to college, so they could've been out of state at the time.

Alice Anne: Were your birth parents viewed in a negative or a positive light in your household?

Andrew: Always positive.

Kayla: Anytime his parents ever talked to me about it, they were really respectful. I think that's a really good word to describe it – respectful.

Alice Anne: How do you imagine your birth parents to be?

Andrew: I think my mom would be the more funny one. My dad was probably more serious. That's the way I look at it. I think my dad was more athletic. That's just always how I thought about it. Since I didn't know, I just kind of made it up in my mind about it. Or I guess I had a feeling about how they are.

Alice Anne: Describe a time where you felt like the odd man out because you were adopted. And describe a time when you felt like you fit right in and being adopted didn't matter.

Andrew: I rarely felt like the odd man out. I only felt like that because I couldn't find out where I came from. Or where I got my nose from or certain physical traits... when my family or friends would talk about where they got certain things from. My actual “adoptedness” was never really a factor, though. It's always something I just accepted and I adapted. It never really mattered.

Alice Anne: What one emotion do you feel the most strongly when you think about your adoption or talk about adoption?

Andrew: Probably just frustration, because I think it's unfair that adoptions can even have the option to be closed. No matter what happens, the adopted person can't do anything about it. I can't get any information about my own history.

Alice Anne: Do you feel a sense of grief or loss associated with losing your birth family? How has it affected your sense of self?

Andrew: Loss... obviously, yeah. Just not having a full understanding of myself. I mean, I've gained confidence in who I am and what I can do. But there's always the wanting to know the traits of my birth parents – are there things they were good at that I might be too?

Alice Anne: Some people feel a deep need to connect to someone through blood. Has that affected you?

Andrew: No, I've never felt that. It hasn't really affected me. Other than just wanting to know where certain traits come from.

Alice Anne: Do you wish your parents had done or said anything differently in regards to your adoption?

Andrew: I wish they would have gotten pictures or more information. My parents met them once, I think. I'm remembering more as I'm talking about it. My biological parents, I know, at least wanted to meet who was adopting me. My parents fostered me at first. At the time you weren't allowed to adopt a child when you fostered them. They went through the church to try to fight to be able to adopt me. I think they used LDS Family Services.

Alice Anne: What do you imagine you gained the most by being adopted?

Andrew: I gained by having the Gospel in my life. The way I look at it is family's family. We're all family. I know that no matter what, family will be together forever, so I'll meet my birth family one day. And when I do... then I can ask them, “What the heck?” Ha ha.

Alice Anne: Would you say you have found peace with being adopted?

Andrew: Sure. I mean, it will always bother me. It bothers me today. But not enough to, you know, go rob a bank or anything. Ha ha. I even threw down a couple grand to find my birth parents at one time. I've looked. I found an agency that said they'd find a way to get a work-around to get a closed adoption open, but it turned out to be a scam. And I wrote a letter to Oprah! Ha ha. It was about a week after I got home from my [LDS] mission. I don't remember what it said exactly. Actually, the computer I have in the garage might have it saved on there. I imagined I'd be on her show and she'd be like, “We have a surprise for you Andrew!” and her music would play and my birth parents would come out and everybody would have DVDs under their seats or whatever. Ha ha. Or at the very least, she'd be like, “We didn't find your birth parents... but here's a new car!” And the whole time I'd be telling her, “I'm not gonna cry, Oprah. Don't even try it!” Ha ha.

Alice Anne: If you could have lunch with any member of your birth family, who would you want to talk to and what would you want to say?

Andrew: Man, I've had dreams about this! I would probably want it to be with my birth dad. I'd briefly want a watered-down version of why I was adopted and then just have a conversation that has nothing to do with adoption just to get to know him. And then shoot hoops for like an hour and have some fun.

Kayla: What if your birth dad didn't even know how to play basketball? What if your birth mom was the good basketball player?

Andrew: Well, I'd teach him. Or I'd tell him, “You're not my birth dad!” Ha ha.

Kayla: He'd be like, “Sorry, son – your mother was the all-star.”

Andrew: If I met my birth family, I don't know if I'd hang out with them all the time. I'd probably just want to talk to them, gather the story from it, and let them be. If I did hang out with them a lot, I probably wouldn't let my parents know that. It would just be for me.

Alice Anne: If you could know the full truth about why you were placed for adoption and who your birth parents were – the good and the bad – would you want to know?

Andrew: That's always a good question, because 9 out of 10 times it's probably not what you'd think it would be. I think before I'd ask the truth, I'd want to get a feel for what they were like. If they were really serious people or not. Or if they were embarrassed by it or anything, I probably wouldn't ask. I'd just have a conversation, see where my physical traits came from, and then I'd let it be. I think I'd want to know if they think about me or how it works for them on their side of things. I'd want to know about them. And I'd tell them that I'm doing great.

Alice Anne: Would you ever consider adopting a child yourself? If so, would you go about it any differently?

Andrew: Yep, I would adopt. I'd have an open adoption and I'd let the birth parents have pictures. I'd probably let the birth parents contact them once a year, maybe. I think an open adoption agreement is a good idea.

Alice Anne: How do you feel about society's shift towards open adoption being the norm?

Andrew: Yaaaaaay. It's about dang time. No, don't put “dang” – put “d@$*.” Write it like that. Ha ha.

[~It's about d@$* time!~]

Alice Anne: How do you think your adoption experience has affected your relationships with other people?

Andrew: I think it's benefited me a lot. I feel like I can connect to people on all levels. With friends who were adopted in closed or open adoptions, or people who weren't adopted at all. Because I can look back retrospectively and see myself as not being adopted at all, because I look at it as my family is my family. Then with friends who are also in closed adoptions, I can understand when they feel abandoned or alone and I can let them know that the family they have is their family, and that they've got to understand that the people who placed them for adoption obviously loved them if they tried to give them a life that they couldn't give. And with friends who have an open adoption, I can understand wanting that relationship and I can let them know based on my own situation to be grateful for the openness that they have.

Alice Anne: How do you think your adoption experience will affect your experiences as a father (when that time comes)?

Andrew: I think I'll be over-protective, because it'll be the first time I've seen someone biologically related to me... but knowing that beforehand I may be able to balance it out.

Kayla: Oh, he will be super over-protective. I can already see it.

Andrew: Only with the first kid, though... the second kid I won't care. Just kidding. Ha ha.

Alice Anne: I remember Zay asked me if a bi-racial person and another bi-racial person had kids (like yall), what race would their kids be? And I told him "bi-racial" and he said the math didn't make any sense. Ha ha. I had to explain to him how fractions work. Anyway! Any last thoughts?

Andrew: I wanna give a shout-out to RayRay! Ha ha. Nah. That's it. Thanks.

***

If you or someone you know placed a bi-racial (half white/ half black) baby boy for adoption in the state of Indiana in 1986 and are looking for reunion, please contact me at xavierandaliceanne AT gmail DOT com to see if more details match.






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