Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Adoptee Triggers and a Sense of Belonging at the World A'Fair

World A'Fair 2016 - Dayton Convention Center
I had an amazing experience this past weekend when I took DD to our local World A'Fair. Many communities put these on, or you may be familiar with the Epcot Center at Disney World, which is the same idea.  You will experience different countries, cultures, foods, dancing, and become educated on what products and ideas came from which country (Example:  Ethiopia's claim to fame is coffee).

This was DD's first trip to the World A'Fair and she was mesmorized from the moment we walked in. We were handed a passport to make our way around to the different countries where someone would stamp the passport and answer the trivia question that was posed in the passport.

First stop -- Colombia!  It is purported that my biological father was Colombian so we made our way over to try out the amazing beef empanadas and churros.  SO DELICIOUS!  I had a conversation with a man from Bogota, Colombia who gave me the lowdown on the cheapest and safest way to visit Colombia.
El Meson--beef empanadas from Colombia

We made our way around to the different countries, DD trying out different dances, foods and asking lots of questions.  Before DD even asked, I shared with her that she was German, Irish and a little bit Native American.  I felt compelled to share with her which cultures were part of her heritage as I did not want her to experience the emotional pain that I felt attending the World A'Fair many decades before with my own mother.

As I reflected back to that time many years ago, I remembered looking around at all the different countries, envying how each culture  of people running the booths, cooking together, dancing together, and laughing together, looked alike, knew their history and knew that they belonged in that group.  I was deeply sad that I didn't know which country and culture was part of my history and it left me reeling and apparently, brave.

I said out loud that I wished I could find my birth mother.

My mother's response to this wish was to share a story about a birth mother who had never shared with her husband that she had relinquished a child and when the adoptee showed up, the woman's life was devastated.   In my usual fashion, I retorted back, "Well, I guess that is what happens when you lie." which abruptly ended that conversation.

This memory has always stayed with me as it made clear where my mother stood on my wanting to know about myself.  It may have been the reason I have not regularly attended the World A'Fair as well.

On Sunday, sharing my first World A'Fair with DD, I looked around and caught a glimpse of Italy (the country I most identified with for all those years of not-knowing), and felt a sense of peace that since taking an autosomal DNA test, I now know the truth (I am not Italian!).  I can walk up to Mexico and know that some of these people are my people!! I can visit Germany, and although German food is not my favorite,  I can embrace that this culture is part of me.  I can eat Colombian food, and feel a sense of belonging, even without knowing for certain who my father is.
DD dancing with a Lebanese dancer

For the first time in my life, I walked among the diverse cultures and countries, and knew that I belonged somewhere!  It was also such an amazing bonding experience to be there doing all this with DD, who like me, is adopted; however, has all of the information about her background.

I hope, she too, felt a sense of happiness and belonging at her first World A'Fair.