NCFA desires to honor all voices in the adoption community in a variety of ways. Today we welcome Avia Weber to the blog to share her adoption experience.
Avia, will you introduce yourself to our blog readers?
Hi everyone! I am Avia Weber, a rising junior in northeastern PA. I was born in Chongqing, China and adopted at 20 months. We assume that I was placed due to the One Child Policy China had in place during the time, but as for many, it is unclear. I grew up in a predominantly white community which I did not think much of until the recent course of events allowed me to open my eyes and recognize my privilege. I am constantly learn something new about adoption and I enjoy sharing my new knowledge with others.
I wanted to share my story with this community to help others learn and hear from an adoptee perspective, especially a transracial one which is imperative to hear these days. Helping others has always been a mission of mine in life which explains my heavy involvement in service-related projects and extracurricular activities! In fact, I founded my own international 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization called Made of Love Not Genes Corp. that works to connect and give back to those touched by adoption through donation drives, advocacy, and more. On another note, I am a huge enthusiast for the color yellow, giant pandas, and I go all out for the holiday season.
What role have other adopted individuals played in your life?
Growing up, I always knew that I was adopted and I do not recall a time where I had a sit down conversation and was told that I was adopted. I believe that since we are a transracial family, it is quite visible. My brother is adopted from Vietnam and my father was adopted from Texas. Thus, adoption runs in my family. Additionally, I have a couple aunts and cousins that are adopted, but my brother and I are the only internationally adopted. When I was younger, my longest friend who lived down the street was domestically adopted. She was also a transracial adoptee and had numerous siblings that are adopted too. Being able to have her has been really good for me because we both understand each other and can rant it all out! :). Recently, I was lucky enough to connect with a wide group of adoptees including my crib mate through different programs. I never knew how many people were adopted until I began learning more about my story and expanding my connections through the creation of my nonprofit.
How would you describe your perspective on adoption today?
My perspective on adoption is growing and evolving as I learn more. I have learned through adoption that it is okay to have different opinions and still be respectful of one another. As adoptees, we don't know too much about ourselves. Especially international adoptees who may not have connections to the homeland or its culture. I learned more about my story this year than I ever have and while it is hard to learn, it is important to learn about my origins. All in all, being adopted, I feel that you are expected to feel a certain way or believe a certain thing, such as being grateful for your adopted family, being happy you were placed, etc. but we are just like normal people and we have the right to feel all the emotions and go back and forth in our feelings and not be obligated to hold a certain view because of our story.
Speaking from your experiences as a transracial adoptee, what are some of the things that have been hardest for you and what do you hope to see change in the future for other transracial adoptees? Do you have any advice for other transracial adoptees who find themselves growing up in primarily white communities and are maybe looking for ways to explore their culture and race, or connect with other adoptees?
I truly believe that it is hard learning about your origins. Growing up, I hate to admit, but I grew up with white privilege. I didn't know too much about the One Child Policy or the "why" to my abandonment. Learning about it has made me more empathetic towards other perspectives I never thought to put myself in. I hope that transracial adoptees can connect to learn together because it is hard to learn alone. That is why I appreciate this community because it connects so many perspectives and we can learn from each other. I highly recommend attending seminars, joining groups, and expanding your network because there are many more adoptees out there than you expect!
What are your thoughts about adoption in the media?
During quarantine, I have definitely been learning more and tapping into the world of literature and arts. If I am being completely honest, the adoption world itself does not receive enough representation and if they do, it is commonly misrepresented and creates negative stereotypes. I believe that the foster care system receives the most representation out of all the adoption community, but they are represented as problematic children who are burdens. However, they are just innocent children who have difficult pasts, but that does not make them any less qualified to receive the tools necessary to reach success. I fell in love with "The Fosters" on Netflix! It is a little dramatized, but they represent so many groups that need it. Also, I believe that the movie, "Instant Family" did a really good job because it displayed the hardships, but it heavily emphasized the effort! Plus, it is extremely hilarious! I also recommend researching articles and news about your story, country, etc. related to your time because you will definitely learn things you never you never knew!!
Is there anything else you want to share in closing?
I wanted to thank you so much for allowing me to share my story and perspective and I hope it helps you as a reader too! I want to heavily emphasize the importance of empathy, education, and involvement. We need more empathy in the world and now more than ever! Every adoptee has a different story with their own difficulties and questions. Never categorize or assume an adoptee or foster child to be "troubled" just because they had a rough past. Instead, we need to create a force field that works to uplift these people to ensure they have the tools to make it big and achieve their wildest dreams.
Also, educating our adoptive parents and fellow adoptees is so vital because knowing the origins of one's story is extremely important on so many levels. This also applies to the public too. Educate before you evaluate is one of my mantras I live by. Put yourself in others' shoes before you decide to release a racial slur or microaggression because those can have everlasting impacts.
Finally, involvement truly saved my life. Becoming involved in school activities, sports, and community service opened my eyes to the world around me. My passions for service led me to my nonprofit, Made of Love Not Genes and while founding a nonprofit is a big step, I love everything I do. Being able to give back and help the community is one of the greatest honors I hold. I would love for you all to check out the work I do and connect with me! Once again, thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and I hope that you all have a wonderful and healthy year!