Adoptees Crossing Lines

Emily's Journey: Identity, Language Learning, and Adoption Realities

September 22, 2023 Lia Season 2 Episode 8
Adoptees Crossing Lines
Emily's Journey: Identity, Language Learning, and Adoption Realities
Show Notes Transcript

Emily's Journey: Identity, Language Learning, and Adoption Realities

After 9 months of living with monks, Emily Harris was adopted from China. She was left behind by her bio family due to the One Child Policy. To process her loss of identity, she has started to learn Chinese with a community of adoptees.   

In this episode, she talks about how language learning helps, why she wishes she was white, and the hardships of being a Chinese adoptee in the US.

What we discussed 

(00:24) Getting adopted from China

(07:18) Pandemic racism 

(09:29) Processing identity loss through language learning

(11:24) Not wanting to share the language with non-adoptees

(15:10) Belonging nowhere 

(20:58) One child policy

(23:43) Distance created by religion 

(27:02) Reckoning with being chinese OR “I want to be white”

(31:40) The note her birth family left her

(35:22) For adoptees learning their bio language…

(38:23) Connect with Emily


Language Travel Adoptee on YouTube

Language Wellness and Identity Podcast

Connect with Emily Harris: Instagram | Twitter

Follow us on social media: Twitter | Instagram | Tiktok


Special thanks to Samuel Oyedele for editing our podcast, support his work on Instagram or e-mail him at 

Lia (00:02.76)
Welcome back everyone. We are here for another episode, bringing you another guest. So for today's episode, our guest is Emily Harris. Emily is a transracial transnational adoptee, one of many affected by the one child policy in China. After spending a lifetime of not wanting to process her story, she's making moves to claim her adoption story on her own terms. She runs language travel adoptee.

emily (00:04.494)
We are here for another episode, bringing you another guest. So for today's episode, our guest is Emily Harris. Emily is a transracial, transnational adoptee, one of many affected by the one child policy in China. After spending a lifetime of not wanting to process her story, she's making moves to claim her adoption story on her own terms. She runs Language Travel Adoptee, which is a channel dedicated to her passion for language learning.

Lia (00:30.24)
which is a channel dedicated to her passion for language learning. And she's an advocate for unpacking how identity trauma and questions of belonging intersect with language learning. Emily, thank you so much for joining us today and being on the show. I'd like to start if you could just tell us a little bit about your adoption story, how you came to be adopted and anything else that you're comfortable sharing with us.

emily (00:33.918)
and she's an advocate for impacting how identity trauma and questions of belonging intersect with language learning. Emily, thank you so much for joining us today in our online show. I'd like to start if you could just tell us a little bit about your adoption story, how you came to be adopted, and anything else that you're comfortable sharing with us.

Of course, and it's also an honor to be here. I've loved listening to you guys' reflections on the podcast before this, so I'm super happy to share mine as well. But of course, with my adoption story, I sometimes get questions just about what exactly happened. And I always say, this probably happened, but this is what the orphanage told me, right? It can't be 100% certain.

But according to what the officials told my mom when she came over to China to adopt me in I think it was 1998-ish, I was left at a Buddhist temple when I was only about three months old. So I had stayed with my birth family before then. It was in southern China. And I had stayed with just the monks who had raised me for about nine more months up until

when they brought me to the orphanage, also located in Southern China. So I would like to think that, you know, my family is, my birth family is from Southern China and people have told me before that I have specifically like Southern Chinese features. I wouldn't know, cause I purposely did not do any sort of research before this year. So I just take it with a grain of salt, but apparently that's how it is. And then I...

I was adopted by a single mom and from all of the books that I read, she was in a very popular demographic from the United States to go over and adopt Chinese children, mostly girls. Again, this was, of course, during the one child policy. And it has taken me, I think it'll take me a lifetime to process what just, I mean, the amount of separation that so many families had to

emily (02:53.99)
government policy and how deep that's run not only in China, but of course in other countries when I've heard of Korean adoptees as well. And then just hearing more about domestic adoption here in the United States. So there's just a lot of loss. And I always knew that I was adopted. My mom was a missionary for two years in Taiwan.

and she had learned a little bit of Chinese and she had always told me that she had heard someone else who was also a middle-aged, white professional, single mom who had adopted from China in the 1990s. So that's what inspired her to do the same. And she just knew she wasn't gonna get married at that point, so that's why she decided to go that route. And so she had always been very open with me.

she had tried to, I remember sitting in a classroom when I was only three or four years old and that was done by some more Asian Americans who had also, they were culturally Chinese as well and so they were giving some Chinese classes and I know my mom tried her best but you know giving a three-year-old a classroom where you're expected to speak out loud and say whatever on the page in the chalkboard, it just wasn't happening. So she tried.

to keep that part into my life a bit. And then we would sometimes go to those Chinese lunar festivals. When I was really little, I would wear the traditional Chinese dress. But of course I didn't know what a lot of this meant. And I was kind of confused and a little bit annoyed that she kept on bringing me to these things where people looked like me. I didn't subconsciously, I didn't consciously.

really know why I felt uncomfortable, I just did. And of course being raised in an all white family, I just assumed that I was white too, cause no one made me feel different. Of course, you know, as I grew up and started dating, like there was a lot more fetishization, I think mostly compared to like microaggressions, I didn't get a lot of

emily (05:12.254)
of that growing up, but I definitely got a lot of fetishization now that I look back on it. And so, you know, as I grew up and went abroad, adoption was never anything that I really wanted to connect with. I did not consider myself even Asian American because I took that as, you know, you have some sort of, you want some sort of connection to that label, in a sense.

Even though I put it on the demographic, whenever I was filling out any sheet that needed that information, I would put that, but I was like, that really doesn't resonate with me. I feel like I'm just American and was in denial about looking different because I was just surrounded by that all the time. And I also grew up in Arkansas, so that was a very non-diverse place, even though we were more in the liberal hub in central Arkansas.

So what really changed the direction for me and my inspiration for Language Travel Adopt-E for the YouTube channel was going abroad. And this happened over several years for me to really even want to talk about it because you had always talked about, if you are trying to learn a language and you see the biggest language learners who get a lot of attention for learning languages, they make it seem like it's a very positive,

enriching experience, which it is, but there is so much more to it than just that. Um, and I just had such a problem with after experiencing what I had, just the constant invalidation of my identity and, um, saying that I had strangers upon the very first meeting me, right? Saying that I had an obligation to go back and to my roots, whatever that meant.

Um, and investigate that part of myself, especially when I was not ready to do that, right? That was, that made me not want to do it even more. Um, and so of course, when the pandemic came and Asian hate just vamped up, um, I had never experienced any physical things or anything like that, fortunately, but I was in Europe and it, it bothered me so much that I think there was.

emily (07:37.43)
just an echo chamber of people saying that this was only a U.S. problem. Because at that point I was still in Germany and experiencing, I think March 16th, 2020 was when I had heard just a lot of news like everything is shutting down, the U.S. is not letting anyone else in and everything like that. So I experienced it in another country and I just, I mean, I got looks everywhere, just really disgusting looks from people. And I was like, I can't do this without my family here. And so...

Um, you know, that's when I started to turn towards more of the Asian American family, even on YouTube groups, because again, I distanced myself so much in my past from really having any Asian friends that could relate to me that in the moment when I really needed that support, it just wasn't there. Um, and so that's why I went into these groups and found the support that I needed. I didn't even, there's just such a, I wouldn't say great.

but I would just say like a big release when you are just around so many people who just know the deepest parts of you and you don't even have to explain it, right? It was just the whole vibe that I went after and I discovered there. So I'm really grateful for that and that there was some kind of online support for that. But it just made me realize, you know, adoptees are not, their perspective is not very talked about. And I...

I see more podcasts like this one and adoptees, especially who I follow with the Chinese adoptees who are like me, they're beginning to come out because we are all born around the same time so we've had ample time to reflect on it if we've wanted to. And so, especially though in the language learning space, there's just so much trauma that can go into learning language. There's a lot of grief.

loss of identity, I went into it knowing that even though it hasn't changed how I identify myself in any ways, it has made me want to process the identity that I lost and I will never ever get back. That's kind of how I see it. Now I know other adoptees will have different, you know, different motives for that, but the fact that I can, it's kind of like we're all learning Chinese together in separate ways, but together, like that's

emily (10:03.426)
That's just a, uh, reassurance that I have never experienced anywhere else with any other language. Um, I've loved learning languages, but with, you know, heritage languages, and especially with Chinese. And I think, especially with my, a lot of my, uh, teenage life, when I started to get more of, um, like really making fun of any Asian looking person by speaking fake Chinese to them, I got that so much. And.

that also just made me back away and be like, why would I want to learn anything that was turned against me like that? And people just pay it off as a joke. So I had to overcome a lot of barriers, which I'm still processing as we speak, but I think I've healed to the place where I know that going into such a language for me is the right thing to do.

If that changes in the future, I'm open. But that's really how language travel adoptee came to be and how I started to get really open about the fact that I'm adopted. I just think we need so much more visibility and a lot more sectors. And if I can do that in language learning, of course, I don't represent every adoptee, but the fact that we have visibility, that is so important to me too. So.

Dr. Noelle (11:30.133)
Thank you so much. That is really incredible. So when you talk about language and you talk about identity,

emily (11:35.406)
So when you.

Dr. Noelle (11:44.369)
and identifying as an adoptee, and that these things came to you kind of late in your life. What do you think the impact of?

emily (11:44.562)
and identifying as an adoptee and that these things came to you kind of late in your life.

Dr. Noelle (11:59.869)
using the language of your birth country does to your identity as an adoptee specifically? How does it influence your relationship with your adoptive family? Are people in your family learning the language with you? And it seems like you learned other languages before you learned Chinese, and I'm interested about that also.

emily (12:00.058)
using the language of your birth country does to your identity as an adoptee specifically? How does it influence your relationship with your adoptive family? Are people in your family learning the language with you?

And it seems like you learned other languages before you learned Chinese, and I'm interested about that also. Mm-hmm. Yeah, those are really good questions. So, my mom, she, I mean, she says she's totally lost her Chinese. We've never tried to speak it at home. I'm personally three months in, and I know, you know, the strategies for learning languages that work for me. But again, Chinese is kind of a brush that...

breath of fresh air where I don't want to put that pressure on hurrying a journey that can come with all sorts of you know triggers possibly and overall you know I see it as a healing element but it's just something that I don't want to rush so I know that my mom is following me on YouTube and I think she feels like she wants to go back into it but literally I guess

It just wouldn't feel, to me it wouldn't feel, once I do get to a working point where I wanted to speak the language, if I did, then it would just, it would feel really weird speaking to her. Even though I would love that, you know, anyone who's learning a language, I totally support them. But for me though, just knowing that I had such a, I was pushing against her for so long that, that whole,

that just shadows everything, overshadows everything. And so I don't think I would want to, I guess to share the language in a sense with anyone else. And I know as well, you know, some of my friends have seen some of my reflections on the channel and they have said, well, I've been thinking about learning Chinese too, but like, I don't want to interrupt your journey and everything and...

emily (14:13.438)
Yeah, I was like, actually, yes, like it's such a personal journey and I don't know where it's going. And with really with anything, I would prefer to share it more with adoptees than with anyone else. So my adoptive family, you know, they sometimes tune in, but I know that the ones that will really resonate with what's in there, that's who I'm doing it for as well as for myself. And just to show the language learning community, there's so much more than just attaining like the highest

level of proficiency and so on. I know we were talking about adoptive family, but with birth family too, I've gotten a few questions about why did you learn Mandarin when you could have learned any sort of dialect? Maybe if you ever met your biological family you would be able to communicate with them better in a sense?

Again, I had not done any research purposely before that, so I was like, okay, I'll take that also with a grain of salt and just, you know, answer it like it is. But seeing if that were true, you know, I don't have any, really any hope for finding any family biologically. I mean, I've done the 23andMe and everything. And yeah, I don't know. I feel like emotionally there's so much going on with the language in general that I don't want to add something else to my plate.

Um, and I think, yeah, I think you had asked me too about the languages before that. Yeah. And so of course, all the languages before contributed as well to me even wanting to attempt Chinese just because it is such a different language. And I had first started with German, which was a little bit closer to English, but still far enough that it wasn't as close as Spanish, for example. Um, and then.

once I was in Germany, I had expanded more into Italian. I had French in high school, so I kind of went back to that. And then when I didn't find belonging in Germany, and belonging, I feel like I have two pointers to that when I try to explain it to people because I didn't find belonging in Germany from Germans in the sense that they would not, they would not accept that

emily (16:36.842)
was comfortable enough or if I felt forced to tell them more about myself and my adoption, they would say, well, you're not a true American. Like what are you even saying? Your identity is wrong, basically. Or it would also be, I was so obsessed with the German culture. I had done so much research. I had gone up, like I had achieved a near native level in the language. I was even at the time, I was like 18, but I thought.

Well, I want to become a German citizen. Like I would even renounce my American citizenship. Like I was really going at it. I was so inspired by what I was learning. And then I finally realized, you know, I will never be accepted as German. Even if I did get citizenship, they would still see my face and I would not be, I would not belong there. Um, and I know that. And so those two things were very heartbreaking. And what I had come to realize was that, you know, maybe

I should learn another language. And at that time, when I was the first time I was in Germany to study abroad, there were a lot of Turkish people or Germans who came from families who had come over from Turkey maybe a generation or two generations back. And so I had done a lot of studies and taken some classes about what they were going through and especially that change. Like the, I guess the difference between

Turkish German people and then Turkish people who were still in Turkey. And just, I could see the shifts in identity that especially the Germans who had a Turkish background and they had never been back to Turkey, that kind of thing. I started to relate to them a little bit more because I had felt so rejected from German culture and I wondered, well, you know, they look different. And they also don't fit into...

very still a homogenous mindset that I see in many countries. So maybe I can connect more with them and learn Turkish. So that's actually why I started learning Turkish because I felt more of a belonging with them and more of a home that I really wanted with German but I had to mourn and find something else. So, kind of same thing with Arabic because there was a really big influence of Syrian Arabic especially. And then,

emily (18:57.13)
you know, once I had come back home because of the pandemic, I had left Germany, I had started Russian, which that was just a total passion project. I was really not doing much of anything and still processing, um, some of what had happened in Germany and the pandemic breaking out. So that was more of a distraction, but at least it gave me the sense of, okay, I can learn, you know, some of these more challenging languages and still be okay. I can still do it. And that gave me the motivation to then

you know, want to attempt Chinese. That was only part of the puzzle though. Of course, the biggest one was processing, you know, why I wanted to do that. Was it really, was learning Chinese just for me? Or was I doing it to please other people? Like really sitting with myself and also just being okay with possible triggers that would come. I've heard from many other Chinese adoptees who have even gone back to China and maybe they've done an intensive program in the language and...

they still are held to such high standards. They had seen, a lot of them have reported also taking classes right next to white people. And then the white people, even though they may speak not as well as them, or if they've been studying less, the Chinese will really give them load on the compliments. And then for them, they feel like they have no, like they're just expected to be native level and everything. And so,

And also just a part of that with just seeing on top of that, they would report, well, you don't belong here, but it's really weird that you're learning this and just more interrogation from that side. So it seems like two sides of the coin, which I don't really know what I'll encounter. But again, the thought kind of makes me nervous a little bit because...

there's so much unknown, but I know from other past experiences, you know, sometimes the world is how it is. And am I courageous enough? Am I ready for that? Um, sort of that mental burden on me, uh, in terms of language learning. So that's what I like to document as well, just on the YouTube channel. Like, there's, there's just so much that goes into it. And I had to do, I think the,

emily (21:20.098)
processing for the language learning was even harder than the language learning. If that makes sense. Yeah.

Lia (21:27.04)
Thank you so much for sharing so much of your story and just what your journey has been like. So I know that you mentioned earlier that you were essentially adopted because of the one child policy. So I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit more about that for our listeners who aren't familiar with that. And also you mentioned that your adoptive mom was a single mom who was a missionary in Taiwan. And I know that religion often plays a big factor when it comes to adoptions and things like that. So I'm wondering if you could talk about that.

And just how both of those things informed your identity, like as an adoptee and throughout your journey.

emily (22:02.57)
Mm-hmm. Yeah, so the one child policy for those who don't know, it was in the late 1900s, where the population in China was getting to be so large that it was just a way for the government to try to control how many of babies were being born. And

this was not effective at all. I've done so much research as well to process what really happened. And I mean, that led to so many sterilizations and forced sterilizations. It led to so many families trying to even adopt, like have even like relatives who were in another town, like adopt out to try to hide what they were doing because relinquishment of the child as they called it.

of course was illegal, but people didn't want to pay the fines from the state or sterilization as well. And so there was a lot at risk and it had gone on. I think, don't quote me on this, but I know a few adoptees as well who were adopted more in the very early 2000s. And then I had known recently that they had...

done away with the one child policy and eventually in the 2000s they bumped it up to two and now they've bumped it up to a limit of three children. And you know, when I see that, it's just so sad. There's just so much loss there and it's like you can do, you can just change everything and it just makes it.

feel like such a clean break from what was. When really in reality, like when I've talked with other Chinese adoptees who have all been learning Chinese, sometimes when we sit in a group there, like I just get this feeling wash over me and I'm just like, we were all given up, you know? And so, yeah, so I was totally against that, just especially after hearing a lot of the after effects.

emily (24:17.61)
of families and forcing families to do what, you know, I couldn't even imagine myself doing. So and I think as well, yes, so my mom was a missionary in Taiwan and she had traveled as well extensively in China too and she'd done that for about two years before coming back.

emily (24:48.202)
I was very against her in many ways in terms of Christianity and everything. And she had also mentioned that when she had told me about the reason why she adopted me and everything, it was like, well, I want to... I felt that's what I was called. I was given a sign by God in a way, especially like after hearing about that.

that one mother story who had done this all before me. So, and I've never been, I don't attach, you know, being a Christian to myself. So there's always just been, I don't know, a lot of, oh, how should I say this? I think like the fact that I never like,

subscribe to any of those ideas, especially in terms of religion and everything. That really distanced us in a lot of ways, I think, as well as she was just an older parent, and she had come with a lot of older ideas, I guess, and she wasn't willing to budge on what I was thinking, that sort of thing. So you know, I guess now that I think about it, I feel like

religion has played a big part in my story in that way, but in terms of anything else, I think it's more of just her trying to, her feeling like it was, like she was on a mission to try to integrate me so much with the culture that I was adopted out of, and then not warning me about any of the...

real life situations that I would face, like looking how I am, the fact that I'm not white, and especially like explaining like there are different kinds of racism. She had always said that with being a Christian, she was also a very liberal Christian and she prided herself in being that. Now what her definition is, you know, people can have different ones, but that's what she had said. Like she was a very lenient Christian, like she had supported, you know, everything, been like a white ally and everything. And

emily (27:08.426)
Um, you know, the biggest part for me was really realizing, you know, you haven't asked me anything though. Like you have a person of color right here and you're trying to, you know, you know, put that, I don't know, the Facebook filter, whenever you're parading that you support someone or whatever, when you don't even reach out to those people. Um, that was, that was the biggest thing. So it just seems very, uh,

hypocritical in a way. So I think in that sense, the religion in that sense has played, I guess, a negative part in between me and her as well.

Dr. Noelle (27:55.513)
So you've talked a couple times about reckoning with your racial identity. And I'm wondering how your adoptive mother, how your community, how other Chinese adoptees have helped you reckon with not being white or with being Chinese. How do you feel about it now?

emily (28:14.99)
with not being white or with being Chinese, how do you feel about it now? And what kind of...

Dr. Noelle (28:24.574)
What kind of...

What kind of journey has that been for you?

emily (28:27.838)
What kind of journey has that been for you? Yeah, well, I think, well, I am, I think there's a lot of shame with realizing that, oh, like subconsciously, I wanted to be white. Like, I hate that I was subscribing to really conditioned by that idea, you know, of course, we all are that, you know, being white, in a sense, is the best in many ways. It gets you a lot of places. I know that.

people felt more comfortable talking with me probably because I had a white family, I had a white mom, I had a lot of white friends. So I was very close to that, you know, and it gave me certain privileges. But then again, like I had to really reckon with the fact that there will just be things that they will never, ever truly understand or go through. And I remember when I was doing the 23andMe test and I had gotten, you know, some,

comments in the past of like saying like, oh, I think that you must have like some whiteness in you or something like that. And they were they were mostly talking about like facial features. I don't know what they meant by that, but it gave me hope. That's the thing. It gave me hope as a kid and I didn't even know why I was feeling that, but it just gave me hope. And when I did the 23andMe test, I was so devastated that there was no, like it was all Chinese. There was no anything else.

I was like, oh my gosh, like I'm not white, you know? And I was subscribing to that idea for the longest time. And I knew that that's where I felt most safe and comfortable was around white people, of course, because I had grown up with all of them. And, you know, my mom never pointed it out. None of my family pointed it out, which I think was a...

It was nice to not get microaggressions, but it was also like, okay, it's not telling you about the reality of the world that eventually you'll have to face because of who you are. And so I think just purposely like my self initiative, like bringing myself into the adoptee space, because of course, like we can't we can't force other adoptees to, you know, come out of the fog in a sense. And it really has to be on them. But once we know that we.

emily (30:52.918)
you know, we've made it clear that we've done our own processing ourselves and we can all be there together. Like that really helped me to try and start to reframe my mindset about it. And of course, I had to do it, you know, as well through therapy. Like there's a lot of healing to be done and I'm still working on it because there is a big part of me that does not want to be Asian in a sense.

Then again though, like I realized that there's a lot that I still need to deconstruct and relearn. So I think even just learning Chinese even was a little bit of a part of it, right? To even help ease myself into being comfortable, like fully comfortable with what I look like and also being surrounded by people who look like me makes it even better if they know.

if they've been adopted too and they know some of what I've been through already. But I know, you know, as I keep on speaking in Chinese, once I really get there, then I will be speaking with Chinese-looking people who are culturally Chinese. They haven't had nothing to do with adoption. I'm not even really sure like how open they would be to talking about that. I wonder if it's, you know, some sort of taboo in that sort of culture that really...

you know, is against speaking out against the government and their policies and everything. So I just, I really don't know. But, um, again, it's still something that I'm coming to terms with. It's a lot better, but I think there will kind of always be a part of me that wishes that I were still white in a sense. Um, so it's still something that I struggle with sometimes, but learning, learning Chinese in itself does help with that as well.

Lia (32:47.028)
Emily, I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit about, we hear a lot of stories about adoptees who wanna find their bio family, but we don't hear stories too often of people who choose not to, and obviously to each their own, but I'm wondering if you're open to talking a little bit about your decision to not do that. I know you said you were focusing on the language right now.

emily (33:07.714)
Mm-hmm. Yeah. Well, I'm always, there's always like a spark in my mind that kind of fantasizes about that, right? And I think that I've heard so many adoptees relate to that, to like this fantasy of like the happy reunion and everything. And then I start listening to these, all of these different perspectives coming from different adoptees who have met. I mean, I've met.

I have a Korean adoptee who had met, I think, her biological dad when she was, you know, 39. And I've heard both of you guys' stories about your biological families as well. And there's just so many factors. I also heard about another adoptee who, after doing his search, like he had found out that one of his parents was not alive anymore. And so I think...

You know, before I had never had any, like much of an inkling just because I also just didn't want to process anything. But now it's like there's just, there's so much to, that could potentially be there and also like so little that could potentially be there. And the fact that most of us during the one child policy, most of the babies were only left with a birth note. If they told their identity, they would be.

punished for relinquishing this child. So there's a lot of sadness in that too. I mean, I've seen my birth note and I had always wondered, who wrote it? Like what kind of ink did they use? How far away was that pen from that piece of paper that they use? Like the very minute details. When I look back at that and all it really said was the time that I was born and my birthday. So.

I wish that there was more to go off of and I know some adoptees, especially from China, they realized that, especially for that, all of them were closed adoptions because they had to be, most likely for the family's safety. I don't know if they had actually been given an option, if it would have been any different, but I just know that there's so little. Even from the orphanage, I don't even know if they have the files anymore.

emily (35:25.302)
So there's just been so much uncertainty and I know that it's not necessarily guaranteed to be something joyful for me if I were to ever try and do that. And again, you know, I think, you know, I think if I had one wish, then it would be to...

at least talk to my birth family, right? If there were no language barrier, at least like talk to them for just like one hour and just see, but besides that, I think that would be the furthest that I would go. I think I'm just using Chinese as kind of a way to bridge that gap that I know that I most likely won't have access to and that I don't want to give the effort to, because I'm also frightened of disappointment and not finding anything even, but also...

If I do find something like what could be on that end, I just don't know. And I tend to think more negatively about that too. You just never know. So that's kind of how I see it. That was a good question.

Lia (36:29.696)
Thank you so much for sharing. I've learned so much from what you said and just resonated with so much. I'm wondering if you could give advice to adoptees who maybe are trying to connect with a language that's associated with their bio family. What advice would you give?

emily (36:49.646)
Oh, really good question too, because there are so many nuanced emotions that can come up. You know, don't feel pressured to tell anyone about it if it's something really private for you. Again, I'm going very public about it because I know that there are so many who want to keep it private, but I think that everyone's story in a sense deserves, like we can all learn something from each other's stories, especially behind those languages. But I understand that that's not going to happen for everyone.

Also, just take your time, especially when you look up different language learning tips. You'll see so much emphasis placed on the speed. You have to do this and how many months and, oh, look what I did in just three months. This is what I did to get to a really high level. Don't mistake your journey as reaching another person's goal.

that is already glorified on the internet, if that makes sense. It can be your journey if you want to get as fluent as possible. Like that can be someone's goal, but that won't be everyone's. I already know that for sure. And with the language learning community, I feel like a lot of the language learners that I've met, including myself, before I'd even just thought about learning heritage languages, they've been blinded by, oh, this goal does not signify who I am or even what I want to do with my life.

And with heritage languages, you know, it can touch even deeper. Like what, find what really motivates you to keep on going because there will be, you know, I bet something that, that triggers something inside of you, even just a great sadness, it can deal with a lot of loss or dismissal. And especially when you interact with speakers, you know, it can be, I'm sure a beautiful thing, but there's also, you know, you might feel, I expect as well for me to feel some kind of alienation, like that just disconnect that.

you'll just feel very out of place. And what you decide to do with that or however you decide to feel, that's totally up to you. You are in control of your own studies in that way, but there just are some things that you can't control, like the emotions and what's already happened to you and what the trauma and maybe even the sadness that lives inside your body. So, you know, it's up to you to know what is best for you and how you want to move forward because there is no wrong answer.

emily (39:16.53)
But just know that it's definitely a journey, just like adoption is. I don't think I'll ever be done processing adoption and I definitely won't ever be done like processing what I'm doing with a heritage language. So just own it as your journey and claim it and however you want it, it can be totally yours and that's in itself I think a really valuable thing to have that no one else can take away from you.

Dr. Noelle (39:40.865)
Thank you so much, Emily. How do our listeners find you? What are your YouTube channel and social media?

emily (39:51.266)
channel and social media.

Of course. So my main platform is YouTube. You can just find that under Language Travel Adoptee. And then I also have a podcast that does talk sometimes with other heritage language learners. That's called the Language Wellness and Identity Podcast. And then I'm also, of course, on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok. A little bit inactive on those currently, but YouTube is where I'm the most active as well as the podcast.

Lia (40:25.716)
Emily, thank you so much for joining us today and for sharing your story with us. I really hope that our listeners will really tune in and listen to what you shared about your identity and the racial reckoning and just learning a different language and maybe even follow you and find some tips from your channel. Thank you.

emily (40:44.99)
Of course, yes, it is a pleasure to be here and just be connected even virtually with others who have very different experiences, but also there's so many similarities. I mean, I've resonated so much with from listening to you as well. So thank you for having me. It's been an honor to speak and listen to all of you guys or have you guys listen to me as I ramble.