Adoption


loved this…from postsecret.blogspot.com

Shhh

i think i’m sick of adoption everything.

i’m a kad – currently – sick of kads.

and i feel more than a little bad about it.

it’s not that i feel better than anyone, and it’s not that i think it’s not something worthwhile to read, write, and talk about it.

but sometimes, it just makes me sick.

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on another note – i’d like to quit my job and travel through southeast asia for a couple of months.

what am i running away from?

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“the good earth” – pearl s. buck – fantastic read, i don’t know how i missed it all these years.

i thought my blog needed an update, but didn’t have the time to actually do anything original – so i apologize for posting some old writing.

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weekend at home
when i think back upon it i wonder how i survived all those years, growing up here. this weekend, i was revisited by ghosts of my past, the three companions of so many years: seclusion, separation, segregation.

saturday night, i hit up all the old local standards, the globe, branagan’s, the dub (dublin house), and ended at red. i didn’t see a single asian the entire night. i didn’t see another minority, until i went to red (an upscale hip, hip-hop lounge). in general, i was intoxicated enough to not really notice or care, but later, contemplating it all, it hit me how out of place i must’ve “looked”, which transitioned to how i subconsciously “felt”.

sunday. the first sunday of lent. i attended mass where my father sings in the choir. in the hundreds of faithful, my awareness heightened from the night before, not a single minority. walking down the center aisle to receive communion contemplating the body and blood of Jesus, i couldn’t help but be nagged by the feeling that i was the “odd-one out”. were those stares, furtive glances, slight rises of eyebrows? and how could i blame them, squished as i was between my italian mother, and the beefy investment banker looking guy behind me. my flat face, slanted eyes, black hair, and darker toned skin couldn’t be missed, in this crowded white collar, old money congregation. i blushed. embarrassed. shy. and i piously bowed my head further.

i went to brunch with my dad. the broadway diner. you can’t miss the logos of Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, and Phantom of the Opera posters hanging just inside the window. we were discretely sat in the back corner. over the cup of joe, we talked about my dad’s recent trip to guatemala. the waitress came to take our order, and i saw the ever so slight questioning look. two eggs over easy, side of buckwheat pancakes, and a large glass of oj i say. was that registered surprise for how fluent my english sounded? not a single asian, let alone minority (do we count the hispanic bus boys/girls?) crossed my path. i was singularly alone. and for some reason, feeling like i was in the wrong place. i didn’t belong here. i had disturbing flashes of grammar school.

dare i admit that i went to see brokeback mountain that night? how could i say no to my own mother. i almost got out of it, but my dad was called to the hospital, what a convenient emergency. i couldn’t let her go alone to the movies, and she couldn’t wait to see the “scenery of backcountry wyoming on the big screen…” (yes, these are the types of reasons why my mother goes to the movies; story lines, plots, actors, directors are all beside the point). we drove to a discount indy theatre in bradley beach. driving through the mamouth turn of the century and early 19th century mansions of monmouth beach, deal, and asbury park, i realized, all of them were painted white. symbolically white. the theatre had about a hundred people already seated, we missed the best part, the previews. white. i slid deeper into my seat. i mean really, who goes to the movies with their mom on a sunday night, and to see gay cowboys? i wasn’t white.

the train into the big apple this morning was crowded with the usual suits and wannabe commuting actors. i slept. but how glorious it was to see so many colors walking to my office. so many faces. i am anonymous in this city. i’m just a patch on an infinitesimal quilt. not a single raised eyebrow, furtive glance, questioning look; or there was that one, but she was probably just checking out my new duds…

there are so many situations, and that’s why i think it’s hard to say
unequivocally that the bmoms are at fault across the board – just my
opinion though.

i think the system needs to change. i think the culture needs to
change. i think the government needs to change. through that change,
i think more ownership can be placed on the bmoms. but cultural
revolutions aren’t easy to come by.

i know that my bmom supposedly gave me up to the orphanage several
months before she got married. that her “boyfriend” who was my father
was an older, married, owner of the clothing store she worked in.
that i grew up with her and my maternal grandmother – before being
sent to Eastern. these are the words that were recorded the day she
dropped me off.

Colored Walls

they echo off blank walls, colored by my imagination – changing,
drifting in multi-faceted hopes and dreams at 5, 15, 25 years old. i
fill in the blanks of her situation, at 5 with no other resolution
than being fed well, cared much, and disciplined for my need to hide
food, cajole my playmates, and hide under my blanket at night. at 15
i know nothing of korea except that it is foreign, uncool, a place
where my bmom gave birth to me and sent me away for a “better life” –
i’m told to thank her for giving me opportunity, and that she loves me
in her “own way”. i’m 25 and i know korea more vividly than i ever
dreamed i would. i breathed the smog filled air of seoul for years,
capturing the scent of my birthland, something too familiar,
recognized by a place so deep down i can’t see it, no matter how hard
i look. my mind’s eye plays games when i sleep, her words resound in
korean, and i understand – but sadly, i do not believe. the walls of
memory are slashed and ripped by vivid dream colors, and at 25 i see
things too well – they blind and hurt. she gave me up to get married.
she sent me away to fulfill her own dreams. dreams that you can only
have in korea with a man’s name. he now keeps me from her, and she
keeps me from myself. i forgive, but i don’t forget; i want to paint
my walls with the right palette – not the dashed discord of pitiful
imagination.

…i came across my friend’s blog – they write:

“Most people know their sun sign. Friends have told me they don’t believe in horoscopes because how can it be that every single person born in the same 30 day period be the same? They’re not! Knowing the positions of other celestial bodies at the time of birth tell you a lot more about your personality than just knowing your sun sign alone. And it comes down to the day, the minute, the second. Interested? Enter your birth info here. If you don’t know your birth time, just ask yo’ mama…”

when i was in korea, i went to a fairly well respected fortune teller near shinchon rail station. it cost me $200 – ridiculous, i know – but for some nagging reason, i believed, or tried to. if there is anything to be said, those fortune tellers are mythic in their knowledge of chinese characters. after asking me preliminary questions, he came to the most important; he wanted to know the exact date and time of my birth. when i told him that i didn’t know, and the circumstances as to why i didn’t know, he shook his head gravely, told me to give him a “best estimate”, and promptly gave me a discount. he started with the preamble that without knowing that information, his ability to “read” accurately would be impossible…

Zodiac

i guess i look in strange places for answers i only wish i had…

to then be denied even these simple answers, for the lack of answers themselves…

I thought it was just me. Spent more than two years in Korea, and
still, I have a tough time negotiating the streams of the Korean
language. Covered 5 levels of Korean courses, and still, I would
say my speaking skills are pitifully adolescent. What is up “there”
(in my head), which makes this so hard that blocks my tongue from
caressing over the words in the language imprinted in my blood??
Before I went to Korea, I had this hope/dream that I would wake up
REMEMBERING. It took me an entire year of immersion to have my
first “Korean dream”, it wasn’t all that exciting.

Nothing is natural. Korean rolls off my tongue as unnaturally as
the Spanish and French I learned in grammar school and HS. I
stutter often, and speak quietly, shyly, without confidence or the
articulation that I think portrays who I am. This is not the Korean that I
spoke when I strolled off the plane from Korea. Demanding! Whining!
Screaming! Asking for the bathroom, for food, for my mother! Where
has that gone? I’ve given up hope that it’s stored in any
accessible location – up there. If it’s in there, it’s deep, well sealed,
padlocked, atrophied…possibly, pushed so far into the farthest
recesses that it might as well be gone…poof!

Then, there are bright days. I’m talking to my Korean friend, we
speak Konglish, and dig deeper into more serious and convoluted
topics, harking back to our native tongues more and more, but then,
it comes out…especially as I’m talking about my feelings, about
my “마음” (ma-eum)…my “정” (chong)…I say it in Korean, because
that’s the way I feel…I can’t say it in English…but in Korean,
it articulates itself…and it’s powerful…beautiful…so
right…and she understands perfectly…tongue, mind, heart, spirit
all Korean all making sense…finally…

It’s taken me so long, and I have/want to go so much further. I can
do it, but it’s the grind that I’ve chosen…I’m embarrassed,
ashamed…I can’t speak “my” language. And then I get
mad…passionate rage. “Why do I feel so wronged?…and WHY, if my
Korean is not perfect do they look at me strange, look at me with
pity, look at me like I’m mentally handicapped…but…holy shit, a
white American, in their loud, nasal drawl horrendously mashes out a
simple, gutteral, deplorable, condescending, ‘COME-suh_HAP-ni_DA!’
they are crooned over???!!!!!” Their hedious pentamic, Romance,
Western infused mouthing of MY LANGUAGE! FUCK – THAT – !

So yeah, I will be quiet, and shy, ashamed…but when the day comes
that I speak perfectly…I will shout and scream, “내가 한국인 이
야!!! 내 말 들어봐!” (“I AM KOREAN! LISTEN TO ME!)…and maybe,
someone, someone who cares, WILL listen and croon over me…

As people, we naturally yearn to just “fit in”. It’s a concept that never seems to escape us adoptees, no matter how much time and effort we put in to building, reinforcing, and reminding ourselves of our self worth and identity.

For years, growing up in worlds that seem so our own, we are reminded time and time again that we don’t hold all the attributes – barring our complete assimilation. We wake up, day in and day out, many – even most – of us completely unaware nor caring of our inherent difference to the enculturation that we endured being raised in the respective environments we were adopted into. It’s rude awakenings, jolting shocks, near-slaps in the face moments which never let us forget – we are not totally our parents’ children, our siblings’ sibling, nor our community’s community.

Of course, during our younger ages, we are more directly affected by our difference. We’re hyper-sensitive to it, and as nurtured, learned survivors, have created mental/emotional defenses to defeat our inner feelings of incompatible failings. A near universal theme amongst the adoptees that I have come to know, has been the phase through which we birthed into our enculturized existence. For me this consisted of a near elimination of my Asian identity – forget welcoming it, I shunned it, shut it out of my life with an almost outrageous passion.

Obviously, much has changed in my adolescent and adult life. I’ve recreated “who” I am in an effort to embrace – “who” I am. This process has been long, arduous, painful, and most importantly, on-going. I am not, nor will I ever fully subject myself to accept the fact that I am not fully assimilated, but it’s a fact that during my stronger moments in life, I have come to accept.

It’s easy for me to verbalize, to bring some existential wisdom to, to express in the intellectual language of liberal erudition, what it means to be “proud of who I am”. I am a proud “Asian American”, I am empowered by the multicultural movement, the idea of ethnic studies, and the hopes for a nation of a quilted pattern. But…

Why then am I ashamed of sitting next to the Asian family I see at the beach during those weekends at home, ashamed of ordering Chinese food in the middle of my small, yuppy, suburban town, ashamed of seeing my people speak in their native languages at the local mall? Where is the pride in that? Where is the empowerment that I can so clearly define and project with such vigor? Where is the fairness of having to “feel” a shame that I can only know by knowing one culture, but being objectified as, and objectifying another…

This is the irony of MY existence. This is the dichotomy of who I am, and no matter what, I will always be reminded…and always, deep down during those hidden moments, feel that shame…and it hurts…

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