The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

Join our newsletter

Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

The Ladybug | Adoption’s impact and final remarks

The Ladybug is a blog about adoptees and their experiences.
The+Ladybug+%7C+Adoption%E2%80%99s+impact+and+final+remarks
Thalia Sifnakis | Senior Staff Illustrator

Adoption is a part of my identity and has always impacted my life in some shape or form. It presents itself in every aspect of my life every day. Reflecting on what it was like growing up, I can see the development of adoption’s impact, and I can understand the rationale behind my difficulties.

From the beginning, I had problems making friends. I felt like I didn’t fit in. I felt different. As a small child, there weren’t many others that looked like me in my community. The ones that did were still different from me. Their parents looked like them, they spoke Asian languages in addition to English and brought ethnic foods for lunch. I could not relate. Not having the ability to relate to those of the same race is off-putting, especially for a young child in school. Race plays a part in children’s upbringing, and it is often easier to connect with others of a similar background.

In middle school, when the girls began to explore with makeup, I didn’t even know how to approach it. My eyes weren’t shaped like the others — my eyelids had different sized creases and my lashes were sparse and pointed downwards. Growing up around Western beauty standards that didn’t flatter my face or eye shape made it difficult to fit in. It took a toll on my confidence and self esteem. With white parents, I had to resort to looking up how to do makeup for Asian eyes on Youtube — Michelle Phan was my idol. With time, I became more confident in my makeup abilities, but I still struggle with comparing myself to others. 

In high school, when learning about Punnett squares in biology class, I couldn’t feel more out of place. It was an instant reminder that I didn’t know my heritage or birth family. Small things like this are reminders that I am different. A friend points out how movies can also be triggering when there is talk about bloodline. Reminders come in all shapes and forms and evolve as I grow older. 

After graduating high school and arriving at Pitt, I joined the Asian Student Alliance, which is the general campus organization for Asian students. This is a large organization that puts together a lot of fun activities. It is a great opportunity for the Asian community — however, for adoptees, it is a bit intimidating. I struggled to connect with other students since I didn’t have Asian parents. For one semester, I joined the public relations committee. There was one activity in which we had to write out what ingredients go in traditional Asian dishes, and not having an Asian background made me feel awkward. 

In regards to food and cooking, a friend notes that as adoptees, we will never have a “traditional” style of cooking to pass down. With our parents being white we didn’t learn authentic Chinese cuisine. We have to turn to cookbooks and recipes online. Not only am I at a loss for sharing traditional dishes with my future children, but the first time I walked into an Asian grocery store, I never felt more out of place. Although I looked like I belonged, I couldn’t feel more different than the other Asian shoppers.

At some point, I decided I wanted to join a sorority, so I rushed Alpha Sigma Rho, the Asian sorority on campus. After attending rush events, I found that it didn’t have the diversity I was looking for with it being majority East Asian individuals. This isn’t to say anything bad, but it just didn’t fit my criteria. After rejecting my bid, I found that the members I met through the rush process weren’t as inviting afterwards and came off as cliquey, reducing the circle of people I felt comfortable around when attending ASA events. This contributed to me not going to ASA events anymore. 

After rushing ASR, I looked to a more traditional Greek life organization hoping for some diversity. I made the mistake of going through formal recruitment. Not only did I get roped into the whole popularity system, but I learned afterwards how racist some of them may be. I felt like many racism issues are covered up by the sororities and poorly handled so that it does not tarnish their reputation or turn off potential recruits. I was further surprised to find out that particular sororities would choose one or very few POC as “diversity picks.” Some of the sororities were known to only admit girls who are white, so I didn’t even have a chance from the start. To top it all off, unless you had connections, it was a beauty contest for the “top sororities.” 

I joined Sigma Delta Tau after formal recruitment, found some of my best friends and left a semester or two after. While this sorority had better diversity, it unfortunately wasn’t immune to the cliques and cattiness that come with the territory. Interestingly enough, two of the girls I became friends with through the sorority are Asian adoptees. With them, I feel more comfortable and at home. We are able to bond through shared experience in relation to our racial identities and abandonment trauma. Having friends that understand and I can talk to about adoptee-related issues is really meaningful to me. 

As I graduate in a week, I will be moving on from college to the working world. There, my perception of adoption and my insights will change yet again. That is a part of the process. Adoption isn’t a “sit down over a bottle of wine and think about it intensely” thing, as my friend notes — it’s something that impacts all walks of life for us. This blog has allowed me to reflect on my experience and how I have grown and matured. I am able to understand myself on a whole other level, and I am grateful for the opportunity that blog has given me to reflect. I hope to continue my involvement with the adoptee community in some shape or form post-graduation.

I’d like to thank my editors for giving e a platform to share my experience and resources as well as those who read my blog posts. Abigail writes about adoption and the experiences of adoptees, you can reach her at [email protected] or [email protected] (post-graduation) with any further questions or comments.