From There, To Here, shares the story of people who have experienced transracial and intercultural adoption. As a Chinese adoptee I made this project in response to how I felt growing up in a place where my cultural and ethnic background was unfamiliar to most people. One look at me and most people see that I’m Asian, and with that comes all the racist stereotypes. To the Asian community, however, since I wasn’t raised in an Asian household, I was never “Asian enough”. Because of this I struggled with my identity a lot. I still continue to be unsure of who I am. I don’t know my Chinese heritage, I don’t know my biological family, I don’t even know when my real birthday is. Some of the most basic knowledge most people have I have zero detail and context about.
Being separated from our roots as a child is something adoptees can't control, and often leaves us asking ourselves countless questions. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic more questions such as "Did my biological family survive the pandemic?" and "Are they thinking about me?" have been whirling around in my mind. In a time of rising anti-Asian sentiment I've also come to the realization that what I relate to most with non-adopted Asian Americans is my experience of racism. My proximity to whiteness never has and never will protect me from people making fun of my eyes or asking me "Where are you really from?"
Many of us adoptees have also grown up in a world where our experiences are invalidated and silenced with the remark that we all know too well: “You should be grateful.” We never said that we weren’t grateful. The adoptee experience is often overly romanticized and seen as giving a child a new life. In reality, it’s a new life that’s completely disconnected from our personal and genetic history, leaving us with no foundation of an identity.
After recently meeting a group of adoptees who grew up with the same confusion and similar experiences as me, I realized that our stories are all too similar. It immediately became obvious that no one knew how we really felt growing up. I made this project in response to wanting to give voice to the adoption community by visually representing the bridge between my birth heritage and my upbringing in the United States.
Plant propagations are supported by chopsticks to grow new roots at my home in Jupiter, Florida during quarantine in the spring of 2020.
Plant propagations are supported by chopsticks to grow new roots at my home in Jupiter, Florida during quarantine in the spring of 2020.
A journal entry my Mom wrote the first day we met ten years ago from my perspective. To the left is a drawing I made when I was younger. The entry reads: "I saw Mommy and Daddy for the first time. I was good and didn't cry, just very curious looking around-- it's very different outside the place I came from. I like the mirror on the ceiling of the elevator. I can see myself, a lot of my friends are here-- that's nice.."
A journal entry my Mom wrote the first day we met ten years ago from my perspective. To the left is a drawing I made when I was younger. The entry reads: "I saw Mommy and Daddy for the first time. I was good and didn't cry, just very curious looking around-- it's very different outside the place I came from. I like the mirror on the ceiling of the elevator. I can see myself, a lot of my friends are here-- that's nice.."
My sister, Téa (right) and I (left) sit on the rocks of a beach in our hometown of Jupiter, Florida. Our experiences as Asian American adoptees differ in many ways but we both share many experiences of racism.
My sister, Téa (right) and I (left) sit on the rocks of a beach in our hometown of Jupiter, Florida. Our experiences as Asian American adoptees differ in many ways but we both share many experiences of racism.
This seal has my American name written both in English and Mandarin. When I turn twenty-one I'm going to get my new ID and put my Chinese name, Chang Jiao, back in my middle name. I want to reclaim my Chinese heritage.
This seal has my American name written both in English and Mandarin. When I turn twenty-one I'm going to get my new ID and put my Chinese name, Chang Jiao, back in my middle name. I want to reclaim my Chinese heritage.
With parents as chefs food will always be something that bridges the gap between my Chinese and American heritage.
With parents as chefs food will always be something that bridges the gap between my Chinese and American heritage.
An envelope from my Mom's baby shower lays on top of a booklet from my orphanage containing information about me and my parents.
An envelope from my Mom's baby shower lays on top of a booklet from my orphanage containing information about me and my parents.
Jade bracelets given to me by my Mom and Aunt when they traveled to China. They are kept in a mother-of-pearl jewelry box, which is a type of traditional lacquer that dates back to Chinese art from the eighth century.
Jade bracelets given to me by my Mom and Aunt when they traveled to China. They are kept in a mother-of-pearl jewelry box, which is a type of traditional lacquer that dates back to Chinese art from the eighth century.
A photograph of my Mom and I in China before we met my sister. Underneath the photo is a silk scarf my parents saved from China when they adopted me and gifted to me on my twentieth birthday.
A photograph of my Mom and I in China before we met my sister. Underneath the photo is a silk scarf my parents saved from China when they adopted me and gifted to me on my twentieth birthday.
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