Monday, February 02, 2009

confessions of a semi-adult adoptee

warning: this post is a work in progress.

thoughts have been swimming around my head for the past year concerning adoption. for those who don't know me, i am an adult adoptee from south korea. i grew up in a family of six kids, 2 natural born and 4 adopted. of the adopted, 3 are from s. korea, including me and one from vietnam. i don't really talk about being adopted... at all. it is a weird subject for me.

i grew up in a very rural area, read all whites. all i ever wanted to be when i was little was a blond hair, blue eyes girl and if i could not be the dream girl, i would have taken non-slanted eyes. wow and my name didn't help the matters either, song. no one gets the name, i didn't get the name, why wasn't my name melissa or samantha, great for nicknames.

this is sad, but i sometimes forgot i was korean. seriously. until someone would say my name which was a constant reminder that i was different. otherwise i could fool myself into not looking into the mirror and seeing those slanted eyes. so i kept things in, the shy, quiet girl that was deathly afraid to be noticed else people would realize just how different i was.

and kids can be cruel. they will point out any difference just to fit in. but i didn't realize at the time that every kid had insecurities. mine just felt a little more out there for the world to see.

college was an eye opening experience with more asians and koreans on campus, a whole community that stuck together. freshmen year i was befriended by a korean girl down the hall who ate korean, talked korean, was all korean. and i did not fit in. somewhere along the way to becoming americanized, i never learned how to be korean. the duality of my life was apparent for the first time, i was korean on the outside, but american on the inside. i have stuggled with this duality probably from the very beginning, but this is when i could recognize it.

5 months ago i felt it again as i visited korea for the first time. i thought that something might click, that i would have an epiphany on my life there. nothing happened. i felt like a foreigner. i could walk around not saying a word and no one would know i couldn't speak a lick of my native tongue. no one would know i spent the last 30 years of my life as an american girl with american dreams. and then inevitably i would need something like directions or food or a restroom and i would need to open my mouth. so even in my homeland i felt like an imposter, a fraud. not quite american, not quite korean.

i could end the story here and you might feel bad for me or wonder how to do international adoption differently or how can we change media so that an asian girl can look at lucy liu and say she is pretty and i look like her. but that's not the whole story, it's just the plot.

i'm not the only one struggling with duality, i'm not the only one adopted. in a bigger story, we are all adopted children stuggling to live both as we were intended to live and at the same time live broken lives. how often do you feel that tug telling you this is not how it should be? i don't fit in here. isn't that the picture of the gospel? that we constantly live in tension. i sincerely believe that there will be a great ending to the larger story as well as to my smaller story. someone named god saw something amazing in an abandoned, unwanted girl in pusan korea and so he hand picked me for some great work, some great love.

i love adoption because it puts the gospel right in your face, you can't look away from something different, something unnatural, but so godly in its truest sense. it's mothers, it's fathers, it's family loving someone that was once unwanted and giving life and hope and love. isn't that your story?

but needless to say, i fully support adoption and this is such a cool way to defray cost. this blogger is raffling a camera and all proceeds go to the exuberantly high cost to adopt their daughter who is still in korea (how did my parents pay for 4? mom says she paid for my sister's cutting coupons... that's a lot of coupons). check the blog out and donate for a great cause.


Allison Smith said...

I love this post Song... Thanks so much for sharing :) Love you!

curlyjo said...

Oh Song,do you mind if I pass this post on to some of my friends? They are white girls struggling with raising their asian, or african kiddos in american culture. I'm sure your perspective would be appreciated...Here's a bit of irony: more people tell me that Abby looks like me than any of my kiddos who share my dna.

curlyjo said...

oh, and for what it's worth, I always thought Song was a much cooler name than say, Stephanie, when we were kids.

song said...

Feel free to share especially b/c I've been reading some of your friends' blogs myself.

I think I like my name now as an adult...