Be Who You Are

“The sky is blue, the grass is green and we were adopted.”

I’ll never forget sitting at dinner with Sam when she spoke those words. I have always felt truth in that statement, but realizing that not all adoptees felt the same way only begun to really affect me recently.

My parents Judi and Brad always told me that I was their little gift from God, and I’ve always felt that with their unconditional love.

Never did I yearn for a search of my biological parents. I never felt a missing piece or a hole that needed to be filled. I know most expected that from me and for a long part of my childhood. I always wondered why I didn’t feel that longing; was it weird that I didn’t feel the need?

Having always been an independent woman, I guess I always had the love and acceptance of my parents. I didn’t need much more. I’ve always felt - though perhaps overbearing at times - such an abundant amount of love that I was almost blinded by the love of my family in the best way possible. My brother and I grew up together even though he was from my mom’s first marriage. Technically he’s my stepbrother but would I ever call him that? Never. Is he that? No, he’s just my brother. Just like my mom and dad aren’t my “adoptive parents,” that’s just silly to me. There is no “normal,” it is what it is and we were always more than OK with that.

My desire to search for my birth parents never went further than a simple question of curiosity. How was my personality designed? Where did my musicality and performance skills came from? Was it nature or nurture? It could have been my parents starting me at such a young age in dance and singing lessons, getting me the best training possible; or perhaps my biological parents were musical. Were they outgoing like me or more introverted? It was definitely a curiosity but nothing more than a fun thought to ponder. I never expected anything beyond that inkling of wonder.

My success in theatre and TV at a young age allowed me to find a community of creative, beautiful human beings that took me in and made me feel like I was home. In theory, I had another family of sorts. As I sit here in this moment, I realize that I had so many places and families where I felt like I belonged that I never needed to entertain that small curiosity in the back of my mind. Sure, I went through what most “normal” teens go through: fitting in, finding ourselves, wearing the right outfit to school, praying you have someone to eat lunch with or not being picked last in gym. But I know I was blessed. I got to grow up in a town where people were accepting of a diverse group of people. I had good friends and a great education. I know this isn’t always the case. I’m not here to gloat about how good I had it - that’s not what I’m getting at. I have my own share of problems and issues, but gratefully, I wasn’t bullied or beaten up. Adoption was also not an issue for me and I’m here to shed a positive light on it, as I try to do on all things in life.

As an Asian American actress I always knew my chances were slimmer than the blonde with blue eyes. I was a minority. I knew that there weren’t as many opportunities - but how do you just accept that? I worked to change their minds. I pushed and I did what I could. There’s a certain level of acceptance you must have and there’s a fine line I rode by pushing the envelope and going in for the things where they didn’t want to see an ethnic girl. It works sometimes, other times it doesn’t. I learned that very early in my childhood and I use that now for my adult career as well. People ask how is it being an “Asian actor” in the industry? In my head, I say, “what do you mean? I’m an actor, like everyone else. No one is the same, everyone looks different, acts differently, I’m just an actor.”

It wasn’t until Sam and I started Kindred that I felt the desire, now at the age of 28, to start looking into my background. Let me be clear: it is a desire, not an obligation. We have received all these beautiful emails with adoptees stories about their search, their yearning to begin it, or their questions of “what if.” They have left me inspired and it ignited a fire inside that has never been there before. We have read such a wide range of emotions, expectations and conclusions that people have reached on their own personal journeys.

Am I ready to meet my birth mom? Not yet. Is she even alive? Who knows. I’ve just begun the process to get my paperwork from the adoption agency. It’s exciting, scary, exhilarating and engaging. I’m taking baby steps and looking forward to being open to all the possibilities like our other brave KINDRED seekers.

My name is Jenna and I am taking this oath to be open to all the possibilities that may come my way. I have no expectation but only to know that I am loved for who I am. I accept the things I cannot change and go for the things I want most. I am accepted and will continue to make mistakes, reach farther, feel more and love deeper. I will make it my duty to be sure that all adoptees know that they are loved, wanted and are not alone.