How can I explain how cloudy all of this feels? I’m staring at photos of me as an infant, in a different country, with a different family. While that is happening I am also sitting in my parents house, reading my adoption paperwork out loud to my (adoptive) mother, learning for the first time the reason why I was put up for adoption, completely oblivious to how emotional it is for both of us. While that is happening I am also sitting inside of my apartment, reading about forced adoptions, inaccurate and corrupt agency records, and of adoptees joyfully reunited with their birth families. And while all of that is happening I’m just trying to negotiate the adventures of normal everyday life, like dentist appointments and irritating coworkers.

All of these things feel so beyond me, so much bigger than me. My heart aches as I write this because I feel as though the keyboard is working so desperately to suck these words from my marrow. Sometimes writing about my confused little thoughts on race and adoption just feels like thinking with my hands. But right now it feels like trying to pull a key from the center of an electrocuted sphere. You want to hover outside of it for the most part, and when you try to punch through, the pain of being vulnerable is unbearable.

My subconscious seems to be trying so hard to protect the rest of my brain, trying to make it not hurt, trying to make me believe the right things, trying to believe that “right things” exist as a concept. Does feeling critical of adoption, or at least of many parts of it, and even of my own parents’ views on adoption, also invalidate the fact that these are the people who raised me? Do my jokes about being a purchasable commodity negate that my mother started crying when she opened her Christmas gift this year? Does feeling completely alienated and trapped in a room with overtly racist extended family members erase the relatively comfortable, privileged life that I have been able to lead thanks to being in their family?

Both the short and the long answer is that life and the world and families are complicated and all of those questions are both true and false at the same time, along with being something that is neither true nor false. But how the hell am I supposed to find the time to figure all of this out? I’m a busy person.