The Search

I know a lot about my birth situation, which is surprising. I know the circumstances and the situation. I know that they weren’t married, and that my birth father really didn’t want me. I know that that was not the case for my mother. I know that she wanted to keep me. She just wasn’t able to.

Sometimes, I think that while growing up, even though this was my truth, I also saw it as a story. A fable about a poor woman who was forced to let her child fly away into the sky. I think I kept the strong emotions tucked away in the darkened half of my heart. But I always felt something was missing.

When I turned 30, I had a major life crisis. I suddenly felt like I didn’t know who I was, or what I was supposed to be doing. I adopted a kitten who made my life more miserable than it already was. I needed to figure out who I was. I began very seriously thinking about my Birth Mother search.

I struggled with the application. The letter to be written to her. Stuck on its first line; for years. Afraid. All of the possible outcomes rolling around within me. What if she doesn’t want to know me. What if she hasn’t been searching for me too. What if she is dead… I didn’t know if I was ready for the answer. I didn’t know if I’d ever be ready.

I don’t know if it was a woman I once worked with. She was extremely depressed and nobody could really get much out of her. I remember being in her room with her one day. I don’t usually talk about myself at work to my patients, but this time I somehow told her it was my birthday. People are always surprised when they realize I am working on my birthday. I can’t remember how, but I ended up telling her I was adopted, and telling her the whole story, and my fears about beginning the search for my birth mother. I remember that she then confided in me that when she was young, she had given up a child for adoption. And then she told me that she could guarantee that my birth mother wanted to find me.

I don’t know if it was the grey-haired Korean woman who hugged me on the day of her discharge, and told me how proud she was of me.

Or if it was the young, lost and confused Korean adoptee who wrote me a letter about how important I had been for her while she was in the hospital.

Or maybe it was all me.

But I finally finished the letter to my birth mother, and sent the application off to the adoption agency.

When I turned 35, I got a response.

They found my birth mother.

And she wants to have contact with me.

Found

I don’t even know if I can fully express how close to home this film hit. Especially right now. Granted, I was not adopted from China, under the cruel and intense circumstances that many children, young girls, were adopted under. These girls were adopted during the One-Child period in China.
Having surprisingly found each other through 23&Me, three adopted cousins made contact. They were all adopted to white families who loved and adored them. But, obviously these girls were raised around alot of ignorance and racism. A lot of the things that they quoted as having been told, might at one time make me laugh, because laughter is deflection. But the stuff said to them, while innocent at times, still reminded them of just how different they were, and always would be. And so a journey to find their birth families was begun.
The circumstances alone brought tears to my eyes. From one side, it is easy for an adopted child to think their birth parents didnt want them, or that something was wrong with them. In this film, we see parents who are absolutely crushed at remembering the child who was forcibly taken away from them, because it was against the law to have two children. And at the sheer difficulty of trying to locate their families when they had been left in boxes on the side of the street, wrapped in blankets and left on the steps of the government building. It opened my eyes more to the circumstances of my own Chinese cousins and their adoptions.
But the thing that resonated with me the most was the fear, because i also had that. The anticipation and the hope, but also the astounding fear. When asked if she wanted to see a picture of the people thought to be her birth family, one of the cousins sits for a while, and then just covers her face and starts crying.
This film ended up being so much more than a success story. It was a story of perspectives, and circumstances, and hopes and fears, and heartbreaks, and discovery, and growth…
This film found me at the exact moment I needed it.

Blue Bayou

Justin Chon always seems to know how to punch me deep in the gut.
The first film of his I saw, about Korean youth from around the world. Korea had feared they were losing touch with their heritage and so hosted a camp in Korea for them. While being an almost version of Breakfast Club with an all Korean cast, it also featured a girl who had been adopted. Ironically, she finds out her Korean name and it is the same as mine. I resonated with her character pretty strongly.
The next film of his I saw, Gook, about a Korean just trying to survive in L.A. during the 92′ L.A. Riots. In which Koreans were huge victims.
This film, about a young man who was adopted at the age of 3, suddenly attracts the attention of the local police, and then I.C.E. and it is found out his naturalization was botched and he faces deportation. A story most people probably remember from right after Trump became president. And sadly, not an uncommon story, just one that is never told. And to be honest, something I had a lot of fear about after he became president. Even though I had complete faith my parents did everything right, I.C.E. was looking for loopholes just to kick people out. And while this character’s story was kind of unique, this film is an example of how terrifying it is for people of colour living in America. It is also a powerful example of how much trauma is involved in someone who has been adopted. And how difficult it is for them to talk about.
And honestly, this film painted a picture of a lot of things I had felt and not known how to put words to.

Dream for my Birth Mother

I close my eyes and I see her. She’s so crystal clear, I almost reach out to touch her.

I dream that she is as elaborate a storyteller as I am. So when people ask, I might say I get it from her. And when that first book gets accepted I can dedicate it to her.

I dream that she is beautiful. Not the immediately obvious beauty. The sort of beauty that shines through to the right sort of people. And graceful. And people would gasp when she walks by. I know that that isn’t a gene I inherited, but it is what I dream for her.

I dream that she has long, full locks of black hair, and is the sort of woman who might do anything she pleases with it. And if she ever saw me she’d say, “you have my hair,” with a smile, and I might learn to love it yet.

I dream she has long, beautiful, delicate fingers, and anything she touches, with a little work, turns to gold. And perhaps her favorite things to do are make music, and write stories. Bedtime stories for the family I hope she has.

And though I know I am the product of an affair, I would not hate her. I am old enough yet to know the power of love. Its blinding intoxication. Because I know in the end she loves me still.

And I dream that when she first saw me she brushed a lock of hair behind her ears, and reached to me with those beautiful hands, and as she told me stories, I gazed back at that beautiful face and saw someone I’d see each time I closed my eyes and dreamed.

One-Child Nation

Anyone living in America will probably agree that our nation kind of sucks. But the truth is, Americans have no idea what it’s like to live in a truly terrible country.
Until recently, many Asian countries really suffered. China began suffering over-population and risked the depletion of all their resources. In the early 80’s, the Chinese government enacted the One-Child Policy, stating that it was against the law to have more than one child.
The extremity to which this policy was enforced was barbaric. Women were abducted and forced to be sterilized. Midwives and doctors performed thousands of abortions. And, as Asians valued male heirs over females, often baby girls were placed in baskets and abandoned on the sides of the streets or in market places.
In America, the idea of selling another human is considered inhumane and referred to as “human trafficking.” In China, these people were referred to as, “matchmakers,” for helping abandoned babies find homes, by selling them to orphanages. Their goal was not to make money, but rather to save lives. These people were arrested and sent to jail.
A decade after the enactment of the One-Child Policy, Chinese orphanages opened up to international adoptions, which assisted in saving the lives of thousands more babies.
Because of the nature of these adoptions, the chances of ever being reunited are near zero. And as an adoptee, this movie, this look into another side of adoption startled me. I have always operated under the belief that parents put their children up for adoption so that they can have a better future. And while I know that that is not always true, I had never once entertained the idea that parents might be forced by their government, to the extent of having their children taken away, to be adopted just to survive. My own cousins, adopted from China during this policy, both happy, healthy, beautiful girls. I can’t help wondering if this policy played a part in their being adopted…
In 2015, China realized that with so few children there would be too few to take care of the elderly, a custom in many Asian countries. They declaired that at the beginning of 2016, families would be allowed, and encouraged, to have two children.

I met a girl today. Another Asian adoptee. I caught her crying at one point because someone had assumed she was Japanese, and if not Japanese, she had to be Chinese. She is neither. While crying, she suddenly yelled, “Why does it matter what race I am?!” And in that moment, I knew exactly how she felt. I have been feeling it alot lately. And while I find my heart grow angry and break whenever someone tells me to “get over it,” I also realize people being racially ignorant towards me is never going to go away. After reading White Fragility, I realize just how White this country is. It is in the very BONES of this country. It is in the way our systems are set up. This country was built on White Superiority. Simultaneously, I am reading The Primal Wound, a book about the trauma of adoption. The idea that no matter what, an adopted child will suffer trauma from it, whether small or large. Whatever your situation, a child has spent 9 months growing in their mother and in essence, forming a very unique bond. Good or bad, early or late, being taken away from the woman who gave birth to you is a trauma. And it can develop into alot of other issues if not treated carefully.
I guess I felt alot of emotions today. I felt angry with this girl. I felt sad. I felt sympathy. And I felt protective.
I suppose it nurtures my desire to move on with my education and career. I want to help people exactly like this. I want them to know that in this country that is White, and cold, and ridiculously blind to Asians, that they are not alone.

Three Identical Strangers

What an absolutely, absolutely facinating movie! What a roller coaster ride. The story of triplets, separated at birth, and adopted to 3 different families. And how they found eachother, almost fantastically.
But more than that, it is a movie that delves deep into the psychological aspects of adoption. The age old question of Nature vs. Nurture. And even the aspects of psychological disorder among adoptees. Separation issues, depression, etc.
But the deepest issue of all, how morally and ethically wrong, and Effed up psychology studies were half a century ago. The lengths we would go to just to better understand ourselves.

This might be boring for some, but this documentary was my cup of tea, and a biscuit on the side. Psychology, and Adoption, and the Psychology of Adoption..

Adoption Story…

Not too long ago I was gifted a DNA kit from a friend. I had admittedly been a little scared to use it. As a child I used to make up my own origins. I used to believe I was an alien. That I had dropped out of the sky and into the loving home of my family. Because, as an adoptee of a closed adoption, I could be anything. Anything was possible, Clark Kent was adopted.. Nobody could tell me different. I’d believed I was half Korean, half English, and a fourth Irish, because it’s what I wanted to be. It was my own small world and it’s what I felt..

Then they came out with home DNA test kits. And I was afraid. Afraid I’d finally have some answers and they wouldn’t live up to my dreams. And honestly, a little bit afraid I might find some family. Oddly enough, that it would be that easy. Spit into a tube, send it off prepaid postage, and the door to the mystery would open..

But I did it..

And I held my breath.. With half hope, and half fear..

And around 10:30PM, I got an email. My results were ready..

And after 32 years, I am reminded that I have a storyteller’s heart..

99% East Asian, and 1 faceless 4th cousin. And I am admittedly heartbroken. Just enough to crush my dreams, but not enough to answer my questions. I honestly don’t know what I’d really been expecting. People always told me to look in the mirror and I’d see who I was. But it wasn’t the right answer for me. It’s why I have a zipper tattooed on the back of my neck. There had to be more to me, I felt it, I believed it. But the truth is there. It is what everyone already knew about me, but me..

99% East Asian.. 1 faceless 4th cousin..

…But now the box has been cracked, and the game is afoot..