Happy National Adoption month?

In America, the month of November is celebrated as National Adoption Month. This has been celebrated since 2000 and is a month to recognize children who are waiting to be adopted, children who have been adopted, and all of the caregivers involved. It’s a month where individuals can share their stories and shed light on the positive and negative consequences of adoption.

In an ideal world, it would be a month to critically examine and re-write the laws that deeply affect adoptees and their birth parents. (It would be nice to have an original birth certificate, rather than one that has been fabricated to accompany a new, entirely different narrative.) But, we are still a long way away from this, so individuals are left on their own to obtain their personal histories and weave together some sort of a beginning, similar to a big bang.

Earlier this week, I read this story about a transgender woman who was able to secretly copy down her information while her social worker left the room. (I’m still kicking myself for becoming paralyzed and losing my chance at doing something similar while in Korea.) She tracked down her mother, with the help of the local authorities, and what followed was one of the most beautiful, touching reunion stories that I’ve ever read.

Reading this reignited my determination to obtain information* about my birth parents. I’ve promised myself that someday, I will return to Korea and will do whatever it takes to have the information that rightfully belongs to me, and I won’t leave until I succeed.

Has anyone else had any luck with receiving any of their information?

*Information would be enough for now. As a fairly responsible human being, I would never walk up to my birth parents and wreck their lives (aka: tell everyone I’m their daughter).¬†


Nighttime Visitors

Two nights ago I awoke from one of the worst dreams I’ve had in a while. Actually, it may have been the worst dream I’ve ever had, as I woke to a pillow soaked full of tears and the inability to concentrate for the rest of the day. (It’s still lingering¬†burning in my mind today.)

I dreamt that I had been transported back in time to the day when my parents gave me away. I was fully grown, yet possessed the mindset and skills of an infant. All at once, they were judging who I was and who I’ve become, deciding if I was worth altering the course of time.

They chose to not change anything.

Instead, due to my pathetic begging and groveling, they sent me away with “firsts” to hold onto, in place of them– the first outfit and pair of shoes I wore, the first blanket from a grandma, the first family pictures, and so on. Gradually, they moved from “first” material possessions to “first memories”– the first time they saw me, the first time time they told me they loved me, the first time they held me…

The whole time I was being forced to stand and accept all of the “firsts” into a tiny, transparent box. While part of me greedily wanted to hold onto all of the firsts they would give me, another part wanted to throw the box back at them, yelling “you don’t get it! This isn’t want I need!”

However, having only the mentality of an infant, I was unable to act on my own free will, unable to try to convince my parents that I was worth it.

Once again, I had no control, no say, over this part of my life.

Waking up from the dream was a struggle. Even though it was unbearable, I wanted to stay in it as long as possible, stay closer to the feeling of my parents.

Book Suggestions?

One of the most helpful ways for me to process and understand things is to read about others’ journeys– how they processed things, what they experienced and what they felt. I’m really bad at identifying and articulating how I’m feeling, so reading the words of others provides me with a gateway to understand my emotions. In addition, it provides me with the comfort of knowing that this is normal.

As such, I’m reading as many adoption memoirs and other literature that I can find. My book list can be found here, and as you can see, I’m quickly running out of books to read. Does anyone have anything to add to this list? Anything that has helped you?

Constant Hunger

What would have been the one-year milestone of my (Ultimate Life Fail) ULF recently passed.

In fact, as I’m typing a group of wonderful individuals are together celebrating their mid-point together.

It’s a group that I should be a part of, but because I just couldn’t do it, I’m here, staring blankly at the disappointment of who I’ve become.

All of this led me to reconsider, once again, what happened and what went wrong. I can’t stop thinking about how different my life would be, how different I would be if I were still on that track.

If my circumstances had been different, would I still be there?
Would I be there, celebrating my resiliency, rather than here, wondering if there’s even a shred of resiliency left in me?
Would I still be that strong person that I used to be? That person where bad things could happen and I could take an Eastern perspective and say “that’s life” and move on, unbroken?
Would I still enjoy life?

If I would have stayed and found self-worth through my actions and doing something good, would this hunger that I have for love, acceptance and belonging be as intense? Would finding my biological parents still mean everything to me?

Orphans are always hungry. You can feed them Spam and chocolate bars and poisoned apples all day long and they’ll still complain about emptiness. That’s why the government manufactures cakes made of grass. The cakes have no nutritional value, but they possess a magical property that makes orphans feel full. -Jane Jeong Trenka in Fugitive Visions

I remember how it felt as the plane began its ascent toward Japan; how part of me wanted to do something completely inappropriate so that they would stop the plane and leave me in Korea, or at least buy me more time, because, for as much as I wanted to be anywhere but there, leaving stirred up those familiar feelings of failure and disappointment. You’re leaving. You’re failing your biological parents. You’re failing yourself. Try harder. Why won’t/can’t you try harder?! Do something, dang it! If it’s that important to you, you wouldn’t be leaving, you’d be staying. What don’t you get about this? It’s simple. And yet, you can’t do it. What’s wrong with you? You can’t give them that? You’re a terrible daughter, of course they were right to give you up. What don’t you get about that? You’re humanity has been demeaned; you’re barely human. You’re a monster. And monsters don’t deserve to live.

Process? Ha.

Ashuipda: to deeply, passionately want to have or to do something, but not be able to fulfill that desire.

It’s been 20 days since I’ve returned and as much as I’d love to say that I’ve processed things and have moved on, the truth is that I’m nowhere close.

Instead I find myself at a loss and needing to sort through “the loss of my birth parents, my birth country and culture, home, someone caring for me, family, love, closeness, happiness, sadness, understanding of my beliefs, honor pride. A loss of me, a loss of who I am, a loss of what life has to offer me” (Voices From Another Place). I can’t even begin to think about these losses in a way that doesn’t leave me as a crumpled mess on the floor. So rather than processing, I shut down, or at least attempt to, because the way I see it, there’s nothing else to say that hasn’t been said and nothing left to do that hasn’t been done.

But each morning as I prepare for the day, a sense of dread hits me…dread at having to trudge through another day when all I feel like doing is curling up in a ball and giving up. You’d think that this dread would have relented by now, at least a little, however it’s only become more intense.

The process of cutting back on obligations/commitments and adding in more enjoyable activities has, ironically, exacerbated things. My life should be more organized and calm than it has been in a long time, right? Instead, the nothingness feels like I’ve been thrown into a state of complete disarray.

It’s like being lost in the middle of a cornfield– every direction looks the same and no matter how hard you look, you can’t find your way out; standing still isn’t going to get you any closer to finding your way out, so you walk, directionless, just to get closer to an unknown something. But after all of that walking, you’re still lost and notice that you’re hungrier than ever, emptier than ever; you become weak and begin questioning if you’ll ever find your way out or if you should just sit down and accept the inevitable.

“No Feelings, Just Ice Cream: A Memoir”

On the last night in Seoul, a few of us went out to get ice cream, opting out of the optional “Reflection” time that our tour leader so apathetically presented (it says a lot when a whole group opts out, but I digress). There were a few of us who became good friends, so we decided to go out and enjoy what remained of our last night together (it was already 10 pm). On the way there, one of the individuals (aka: my twin who happens to be 4 years older), had remarked that we were skipping all of the mushy feelings– “no feelings, just ice cream.” I laughed and said “that sounds like a book title,” to which she responded with something to the effect of “yeah, for your memoir.” We laughed again because of how fitting and accurate it would be.

When looking to the trip, I envisioned being magically “healed,” or at least closer to a resolution and feeling okay and at peace. Now, at the tail end of the trip, I’ve realized that nothing has been resolved. If anything, more things have been stirred up and I find myself in an emotional limbo, stuck and unable to “join loved ones” on this side due to my inability to be loved and be accepted, both by myself and by others.

Everyone who was able to meet their birth parent(s)/families or foster parent(s)/families have spoken about how they feel ecstatic, happy, healed; how they have been forever changed. They realize that there will still be complications, given the complexity of adoption and its repercussions, however they know that they will be okay. They’ve found it– their past, their identity, love from their birth parents, a way to become whole.

Listening to everyone’s stories was torture, but I am so, so happy for them because I know how much it must mean. Although everyone’s experiences are relative, I can feel how significant it is for them to know about who they are and to finally begin to become whole.

After seeing what’s possible, I’m craving it now more than ever. You hear stories about reunions gone awry, but I’ve just witnessed more than five and know the healing power that even a simple, short meeting can hold. How does one ever move forward knowing that it’s out there? Knowing that their healing has only come from a reunion? Knowing that you’re being forced down a different path that will be “close, but no cigar?”

I can’t fathom anything else, any other way.
It’s just not possible.

Unwelcome Visitor

A couple of days ago I was reading through some of the blogs of people on the tour. It struck me that they were all so excited to be here, regardless of if it met their expectations. Every post was an enthusiastic recount of the day, filled with no shortage of wonder and awe. They’re seizing every opportunity, taking everything in, seeing everything that is new and unfamiliar in the light of fascination and mystery, as something wondrous and exciting.

This is how pre-life fail me would be.

Post-life fail me is exactly the opposite. This self is cowering in a corner, ashamed that this part can’t be found, can’t be summoned from somewhere within, and sad due to being cognizant of the fact that it’s missing out, yet still unable to stay focused and present.

Waking up is hard; getting out of bed harder.
Going through the motions of the day is exhausting; being around people is more exhausting.
Living has become a constant struggle.

Who is this foreigner?
And how long is she planning on staying?