Big Steps

12/9/11

On December 9, 2011 I made the decision to attend the 2012 Holt-Bethany Korea Adult Adoptee Tour. This means that in a little more than 5 months I’ll be on my way to South Korea, the place where I spent my first 5 months of life.

I’ve been filtering through a myriad of emotions and am now resolved (to try) to just live life day-to-day, without thinking about the future implications of such a large decision.

One thing that has helped has been reading other adoptees’ blogs and seeing how their respective families have treated their adoption. Rather than living their life in secret and feeling disconnected from their families, I’m finding that most individuals were brought up knowing and feeling that they were okay and loved, feeling stable and secure. A lot were brought up learning about their heritage and celebrating their “airplane days,” the day that an adoptee was brought ‘home’– a word that still has me searching for meaning.

All of this left me realizing that my upbringing was a little different, slightly unhealthy, and may be the reason why I’m not open to trusting and being vulnerable with others. I’m beginning to work on these things, but after spending my life (thus far) building up tall, strong walls of brick, I’m finding it pretty difficult to even begin deconstructing this barrier. Nonetheless, I’m trying.

A couple of days ago I visited the local library and found a couple of books on adoption, one of which is titled “Lucky Girl.” It’s a great read so far and I’ve found myself thinking “I’m not alone; it was normal” more than once.

Here are some excerpts that I found particularly relatable:

“I had never cared about them before or even thought of them as real people. I never had– nor did I seek– enough information to feel a connection with my biological origins. My mom and dad told me what they knew, and I never sought to know more. This was probably both a conscious and unconscious decision. You are less likely to mourn those you do not realize you have lost– or those who have lost you. You do not yearn for a life that you don’t know exists. Now I not only knew what I had gained from being adopted, but I suddenly was beginning to see what I had missed, and I wanted to know more.”

“But it’s hard to avoid being stained by the ignorance of the people around you– ask any Asian American or other minority. On the mean streets of adolescence, you are on your own in the fight against your demons. I wanted to be anything but Asian. I used to curse being different in my journals and in my dreams at night. I overcompensated. I went out of my way to prove how American I was […] I was Little Miss Everything in high school, class president for three years, captain of the pom-pom team, and a member of almost every club that existed. I excelled at a lot of things: school, socializing, public speaking, organizing. Yet I was a tormented hypocrite. Outwardly I tried to ignore or make light of the stereotypes and slurs. The one time our terrible advanced placement English class actually read a Shakespearean play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, I was accidentally cast as the “Chink in the Wall.” I was horrified inside but giggled to deflect the anxiety I felt. I allowed myself to acquire the nickname “Chinky”* […] I would defend my brothers, but I would never have dated an Asian guy. During high school, I resisted even hanging around Asians**.”

*Nickname: Check. (Mine was “Chinkerbelle.”)
**Phobia of Asians: Double check. (For a long time, I didn’t even like Chinese or any other “Asian” food.)

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