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Adoptee spotlight: Kaitlyn Rewis; 2023 year in review

Nanchang, China --> Chicago, Illinois

Originally published on April 20.

I am 27-years-old, living in Chicago, Illinois. I was adopted at 9-months-old from Nanchang, China, and I am finishing my last year in medical school and will be pursuing OB/GYN. At my Grandpa’s memorial service, I embraced my aunt in sadness. She pulled back and said, “Do you have coronavirus? I’m not supposed to touch anything made in China.” Navigating racism in transracial adoption is difficult. Every Lunar New Year, my mom would give me a red envelope. My dad used to attend Chinese classes with me until I protested to stop. My parents tried to keep me connected with my heritage. But, when I try to talk to them about white privilege, color blindness and Black Lives Matter, I think my parents take it personally because it seems like an attack on their parenting and character or that I don’t love them as much because they are white—which isn’t true. My family has never made me feel that I wasn’t theirs or not loved unconditionally. I am the only Asian person in my immediate family. Looking different was something I’ve had to navigate alone. Being adopted from China to a white family and fully immersed in American culture has not protected me from racism from inside or outside my home. I constantly struggle to vocalize these experiences to my family.

"Being adopted from China to a white family and fully immersed in American culture has not protected me from racism from inside or outside my home."

As a person of color, it's easy to get caught up in our safe spaces and echo feelings of invalidation and anger. It feels impossible to think that other people deny racism actually exists or don’t understand the different forms racism can take. For us, it is our living truth, so bluntly in our faces. I’ve realized that when I see racism, it is important to distinguish who is doing it maliciously and who is doing it out of ignorance. Someone can be a morally good person, say racist things due to ignorance and still be deserving of respect. Humans are complex, which calls for an equal amount of complex compassion. I’m at the point where I’m trying to come from a place of love and respect, rather than aggression, when calling out injustice. It’s unfair that emotional labor is put on minorities to educate others. It is exhausting. But, my family has shown me that it’s important to stay persistent because, while opinions may be quick to change, it takes years to change a belief system.

 

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[Description: Beige background with a collage of photos in the center. Photos show Kaitlyn with her family, two headshots and a baby photo. Large text at the top says, "Kaitlyn Rewis." Small text at the bottom says, "Nanchang, China; Chicago, Illinois."]

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