Our gyopo brothers and sisters


I came across this lovely piece by a hapa gyopo, eliciting for others her own discovery while tracing her Korean family roots.  It is both compassionate, generous, thoughtful, and delivered with simplicity and clarity.

An absolute delight, It also brought a little pang to my heart when I thought about my own children who have a much harder path making any connections such as these.  As an abandoned adoptee, all my forays into Korean heritage must by default be academic.  All connections to Korea are those I create anew.  All heritage is vicariously imagined through my connections to others who have a known history.   For my children, this is yet another layer removed.  Me and mine, we’ve always had to make something out of nothing.  Granted, it’s a beautiful something we have, but when even those who HAVE history long to be connected to it, where does that leave us?

This desire is fundamental to being human.  To abandon a child is to leave it stranded with no map, no compass, and no datum.  To have no mementos or tokens of significant events and significant non-events is unsettling.  There is no place on a map that you can point to or drive by and get out of your car and pace the ground and plant your foot in the earth and say, I was here.  There is no fact that can be corroborated about yourself.  There is no telling you aren’t a total fabrication or that you really existed.  No birthdate.  No name.  No place.  Only your skin and a whole country.

I hope one day we can redefine this landscape so that all Koreans can know their roots.

I am, however reluctantly, an epiphyte, living on nutrients from the air, rain, and surrounding debris.  I had hoped by coming here to search, I could give my children enough history to write a story like the one above.    I guess their story just has to begin with me.

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3 thoughts on “Our gyopo brothers and sisters

  1. great parents and great family lines aren’t something that’s inherited. my own parents and siblings (as well as myself) are so distant from each other; we hardly notice or care about the other.

    i look at my life and my “true” family, the ones that nurtured me, allowed my dreams to flourish; it’s not about genetics. my son’s aunt/godmother was my high school friend growing up. his grandmother has been my teacher, my confidant. their history of being loved and showing their love will be part of my children’s history.

    that love, whether it be from bloodlines or not, transcends and touches us all. this was a great video; it only shows one strand of that idea.

  2. Oh I understand that AND feel that. I’m not an idiot – OF COURSE I can appreciate what there is to glean of value. We HAVE TO, since that’s all we can do! And nobody said anything about “great” family lines. On the contrary, I expect they aren’t great. But at least knowing something is better than knowing nothing.

    But again, this dismissal/sweeping under the rug the strands that I am missing is something the privileged can do. Most have the privilege of choosing which of their blood is valued or not, or of deciding which non-blood is more valued than their blood. I don’t have that. AND, I didn’t have an adoptive family worth cherishing, either.

    Read: What is this need to KNOW WHERE YOU CAME FROM?

    To know absolutely nothing is bottomless.

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