Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved. Video performance shared with permission. All rights reserved.
Context: Ms. Hein, a transracial adoptee in her tweens, created the following poem for a middle school language arts assignment. Ms. Hein selected her topic and wrote her poem during class time, using evenings at home to practice and memorize her work. She asserts these are her thoughts, her feelings, her experiences and respects others’ whose voices may dissent from hers. Respectful comments, whether in support of her work or not, are valued and appreciated.
Each student presented her own poem in class. The class and teacher, as well as some of the administrative team, selected the 27 finalists for the middle school’s Poetry Slam performance. During intermission and after the performances were complete, Ms. Hein received some wonderful feedback. An administrator described her as “quite a poet.” After her presentation, peers cheered her on and offered high-fives. One adult couple sought her out afterwords to offer their congratulations and gratitude for her “sharing (her) truth,” noting they were each moved to tears.
We are so grateful to Ms. Hein for her permission to share her work with you here.
When: An Adoptee’s Experience
Poetry Slam 1.28.15
when will people step out of their biological privilege?
when will others
stop presuming family members have to look alike?
Can’t looks be deceiving?
when will individuals
accept that we don’t have to be biologically related to belong?
when will oblivious busybodies
stop verbally bombarding us,
as if interrogating hostile witnesses in front of a judge?
Every time we go out in public,
we have to protect ourselves with prepared responses!
when will we cease needing to guard ourselves
from whatever ignorant queries people throw our way?
when will the world acknowledge that our adoptive parents
are as “Real” as our biological parents?
when will we stop being considered as an abhorred gift
When will I …
… I be able to go out with my family
without feeling like I am a starving dog
being chase by an animal control officer
in search of her daily quota?