This photo is one artifact I have from my early childhood in Thailand living in foster care. My first adoptive family sent the supplies for this birthday party. My first adoption at three years old took me from Bangkok to Madison, Indiana. My second adoption at five years old took me to Indianapolis, Indiana. For me, this photo – with “Happy Birthday” written in English and Disney characters on the paper cups – reflects the ways my Asian and American identities have been in a lifelong negotiation of preservation and assimilation. As an adult, I have reflected more on the aspects of my own history and identity that I did not carry with me to the present: my Thai language, knowledge of Thai culture or traditions, connection to a Thai family or community. I wonder about and have regret for things I have lost, while at the same time I cannot help but appreciate the many things I have gained from the family, culture, and communities of which I have been a part. I know my story of migration – through adoption – will be carried on in some ways through my children. I hope to be able to better define the aspects of this story and my identity that feel meaningful to pass down to them as a part of their own Asian-American identities and stories.
– Anna Remenschneider