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I Found My Birth Mom
If this blog entry reads as angry, frustrated, or desperate–it’s because it is. I am. I feel as though I have been screaming my entire life and my screams have been silenced or quantified as a direct result of being an adoptee.
People don’t understand what it is like, and I suppose I don’t expect them to because I’ve never come flat out and said some of these things, but I am going to now. I am going to now so there is no question, and in the hopes that anyone who reads this will reflect and can no longer feign ignorance.
We are happy to announce that Baby R’s name is…
Just kidding! Sorry, but you all are going to need to wait until the little one makes her appearance earthside to find out what her name is.
But in all seriousness, I knew that the business of naming your child was probably not something to be taken lightly. However, I didn’t know how many feelings and emotions it would bring up as a transracial adoptee parent.
There was also a part of me that felt like giving our daughter a Korean middle name might impose too much “Koreanness” on her. At the time, I was really struggling with the fact that she was going to have nods to Asian features, and I think that the protective side of me wanted to shield her from any adversity that could potentially come from acknowledging her Korean heritage. I also sort of felt like an imposter giving her a Korean middle name. Who was I to give a child a name from a culture I grew up so divorced from and had only recently begun to reconnect with?
This past Tuesday, in the car on the 25 minute car ride on the way to the OB, I asked my husband the question.
“What would your response be if our daughter came home and told you that someone called her a Chink?”
I will never forget the moment that I first saw her face. I did not expect to be hit with the wave of emotion that I was when I could finally put not only a face to a name, but a face to my face.
But why did I, an Asian-American Korean adoptee, not find out that there was a month designated to represent my people until I was 30 years old? And even moreso, why could I not remember learning about one single influential Asian-American in school?
Seeing myself wearing this fabric mask makes it impossible for me to maintain that distance and has created a complex, complicated inner-conversation. On the one had, I am still assimilating by wearing a mask just like everyone else in America. On the other, by doing so, I embody a stereotype of Asians that so many in the world despise.
I’ve called my adoptive parents “Mom” and “Dad” for 30 years now. They are the only two people in the world who have earned those titles. I know that some people call their in-laws “Mom” and “Dad” but to be honest, I will never be one of those people.
When I sat down to write about my experiences growing up as one of the only Asians in nearly every setting of my life, I found that the best way was to write a series of letters…
But going back to this idea of choice–I was chosen. In fact, if one thinks about it on a cruder level–I was an investment.
At this time in my life, kids were also cruel and my eyes became the butt of a lot of jokes. They’d often tell me to “open my eyes” or ask if I could see the same amount as everyone else. Sometimes I would beat them to the punch and say things like, “Oh, I didn’t see that. It must be because my eyes don’t open haha.” Other times, I would be annoyed and snootily respond, “I don’t know if I see less. Why don’t I pop your eyeballs out of their sockets so we can trade and find out?”
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