Gregor Mendel and Punnett Squares

The other day I was thinking back to some of the uncomfortable events of my childhood, brought about solely by being adopted.

Right away, I thought about science classes and learning about Mendelian Inheritance and filling out Punnett Squares. Although I normally loved science class, I always dreaded the time of the year when we talked about genetics. (This still hasn’t changed.)

When instructing me on how to fill out the Punnett Squares, given my “situation,” the teacher(s) always had me guess. Simple activity turned to disaster? Check. Not only did this activity bring up the issue of adoption, which I convinced myself didn’t exist, but it also left me feeling inadequate and ostracized from the rest of my peers. What other kids knew for a fact– what they saw reflected in themselves every day– was something that I had no idea about. The guessing that my teachers instructed me to do was a reality that I lived with, and one that I tried to ignore. I wonder if they’ll ever understand how hard that simple exercise is for an adopted child.

Filling out the “family history” section on various forms was always much easier because people didn’t expect you to guess on it. Once you said “I’m adopted,” they would move on, no questions asked. After all, what questions could they ask? This isn’t to say that it was easy, as the blank space became symbolic for the void in your life, burning into your mind and leaving you feeling exposed to everyone. Accompanying the feeling that you were exposed was the feeling that you didn’t belong, an imposter merely holding the place for someone else.

Along with these recurring experiences, were the usual occurrences that accompanied being an individual with a race and ethnicity that differed from the majority, mainly racial slurs.

I remember a period in middle school where two of the “popular” guys constantly yelled ching chang chong through squinted eyes when they saw me on the bus. Thanks to being actively involved in clubs, I became good friends with one of their future girlfriends and almost immediately the taunting stopped. After this, I always had plenty of friends and was liked by (most) everyone. I was social and completely different from the quiet and reserved introvert that I am now. In hindsight, surrounding myself with friends was my way of shielding myself from those who would have otherwise insulted me.

I wonder what this admittance says about my character, both then and now?


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