My Why

My Why

By: Amanda Burton

When I first began working in the field- fresh, young, and green, I wore the title “adoption social worker” as a badge of honor. It was my superpower. You see, I’m an adoptee and at 19 years old, like most, I thought I had it figured out. I grew up in a loving home with a family who provided me with unwavering support and opportunity. Trauma must have skipped me… What I would come to learn is my journey to true understanding and healing was just beginning.

Over the next five years I worked with families bringing home children from all over the world-Korea, Uganda, Ukraine, the US. I worked with expectant mothers selflessly making an adoption plan, laying out a future they dreamt of for their child. I met so many incredible families- some who later became like family. And I walked through infertility. Year six, it was as if the sky opened. Colors more vibrant, as a baby girl was placed in my arms. The next several years are a blur – trying to be the best steward, wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend filled my days. And during this time, I thought I lost who I was- but would later come to realize that the uncomfortable, unfamiliar feeling stirring, was growth.

I left the field for about ten years and went to work for a Korean owned granite fabrication company. The next eight years with this company, and its parallels to my life would profoundly change me. For the first time I allowed myself to feel. To feel different, to feel isolated, to feel anger, to feel resentment, and to feel acceptance. Acceptance that I am a child of loss and trauma and that’s okay. Acceptance that I don’t need to define myself as white or Korean, and this middle area isn’t so bad. Acceptance that I can deeply and unconditionally love my parents and still wonder where I came from. Acceptance that I can let go of the crippling anxiety that I have grasped so tightly to be perfect. That rejection, abandonment, and being different are a part of my story, but it doesn’t define me.

Through this I have become open- open to discovery. Through these years I have fostered, adopted again, opened those adoptions to first families, experienced profound loss, and planned then took my first trip back to Korea. So, today, after all that, what brought me back… what is “My why”? My why is growth. My why is healing. My why is truth. My why is education. I know longer wear a title to define who I am. Instead, today I accept who I am, where I am and how much growth I still have to discover.

Today, my why is to use what I have gained to hopefully benefit my daughters, my fellow adoptees, and expectant, birth, and adoptive parents. To teach openness and vulnerability… to bring awareness to that which has been negatively stigmatized for too long. My why is to bring a small piece of wholeness and light to all members of the adoption triad.