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Who Am I

Téa Tamburo

Who am I

It’s midnight. Finally November 28th. I’m 17, and the main thought in my mind is that I should be blasting ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” or Stevie Nicks’s “Edge of Seventeen.” And instead, I’m sitting at my desk and thinking about my birthday. I’m lucky to know my real birthday but, I always wonder what time I was born: when will I officially be 17? The chance of me being born at 12:00 a.m. is one in 1440.


There are so many unknowns when it comes to my transracial and international adoption. And while not knowing my exact time of birth isn’t something that would change how I see myself or acknowledge my birthday, it highlights the unknowns around my adoption and how I identify.


Horoscopes are a trend among people my age. There’s even a compatibility feature on Snapchat that aligns your horoscope to someone else’s. All you have to do is enter the date, place and time of birth. I’ve got everything but the time, another reminder of how something seemingly straight forward becomes almost impossible. I just entered my time as being 12:00 a.m., since that marks the start of my birthday.


It’s not always that simple though. While some of my wonderings on my past, who I am, and what makes up my identity can be solved with a scan through my citizenship papers or by reading my lifebook, some are up to me to interpret. As a transracial adoptee, I think about where I see myself falling into my family lineage.

"While some of my wonderings on my past, who I am, and what makes up my identity can be solved with a scan through my citizenship papers or by reading my lifebook, some are up to me to interpret."

I live each day seeing myself as my parents’ daughter, not as an immigrant. While I know that I technically am one, it doesn’t feel that way as I celebrate my existence with a family that has been in the United States for over a hundred years. I’m an immigrant, and my family members are not. So that leaves it up to me how I want to identify and introduce myself. I like to say I’m a transracial adoptee, because it feels affirming and encompasses who I am and who my family is. It also leaves the door open to how I want to identify within my family lineage. As of now, I consider myself to be first-generation, just because I’m the first person of my genetics, that I know of, to be raised in the United States.


In a way, it feels affirming to be able to decide how I identify in my family lineage. It can also feel daunting and points out all of the unknowns around my story and who I am. Ultimately, I choose to see this in a positive light: it gives myself, and adoptees in the same position, the unique power to decide who we are and how we identify in relation to the ones we love.


 

Image description: White background with an oval-shape photo of Téa on the left. She is wearing pink. Pale pink circle to the top right and large pink text reads "Who Am I." The text is arched to reflect that of the circle it's inside. Under that text is "Téa Tamburo." Below the circle is text in quotes: "While some of my wonderings on my past, who I am, and what makes up my identity can be solved with a scan through my citizenship papers or by reading my lifebook, some are up to me to interpret."

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