sprung up from nowhere


In response to Sona’s comment:

i can’t wait to read this next post. i am curious too…i have young children of my own, and i am just recently addressing my adoption issues that i have never acknowledged before – because i wanted to appear well-adjusted and perfect. but i know that my kids can sense an emptiness – a void; and i am addressing these issues so i don’t pass on a legacy of nothingness to them. we all want to come from something – a continued heritage and narrative. we don’t want to be ghosts that spring up from nowhere in america, where we were adopted, with no past but for a few sentences of made-up history.

Personally, I think it is a mistake for any parent anywhere to appear well-adjusted and perfect.  I question anyone who can say the former and would argue that the latter is just inherently not possible (or desirable).   Kids are super intelligent and can see the fallacy of this, and then we parents just show our children what liars we can be to ourselves and others.

The lack of heritage is real.  There’s really not much we can do about it.  The nothingness that results is also real.  It is how we respond to it that matters.   I wasn’t ready to have children because of this deficit, but the response was to make the here and now the best it possibly can be and to give my children all the love and nurturing I didn’t have.  My imaginary mother and father provided a wonderful role model.  How I dealt with the voids in my life was less than ideal, but my response to my children couldn’t have been any better.

Try as we might, we do pass on our history to our children, even if that history is no history.  It’s what being a family is all about.  For us dispossessed diaspora, our history must be the history of Korea.  For us abandoned Koreans, this family unit without extensions must be self-contained.  I looked at my baby daughter and said to her, “it’s you and me against the world.”  And so it was.  And that was the beginning of my real family.  So it’s not true that we don’t have family.  We just have to be the alpha.  In a positive light, we are like pioneers.

It’s all right to share with our children, too.  It’s all right to tell our children – this is a big hole in my life, that I haven’t resolved yet and may never resolve.  I wish I’d done it sooner.  As long as you are strong and are there for them when they need you, it’s okay to show you are a human being with your own individual issues.

And because you are open to this scary journey, you can explore it with your kids – together. It will make you closer.

I meant to tell Rae that my daughter’s exploration into Korean food sucked me in a little bit.  And because you’re in the driver’s seat there are cultural things that you and your kids can explore together as well.

There are a lot of things I can’t co-opt as my own – such as wearing hanbok or trying to replicate ancestor rituals, etc., because that would just be make-believe.  But I can look at Korean culture and ask, what rewards are there for being Korean (looking) that can benefit me/us?  I’ve paid my dues, now what are the privileges that I’ve not taken advantage of?  Still working on that.  There’s a very real possibility I might end up rejecting Korean culture altogether, or I may find something worth holding on to.  But deciding to explore has allowed me to choose, whereas before there was no choice but to keep on keeping on.

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12 thoughts on “sprung up from nowhere

  1. thanks for this response. i meant to say i have tried to appear well-adjusted and perfect in the past about my adoption to the outside world. my kids already have a sneaking suspicion i am not perfect.

    there is a whole generation of adoptees who don’t delve into the ramifications of adoption and leave it to their kids, who are passed on that void. this is what i am afraid of – the repercussions that are felt beyond the adoptee themselves and passed on to the next generation..

    my kids are still very young; i work in baby steps: i try to pass on the fact that they are, in fact, korean (a fact i never acknowledged growing up) and then whatever i know about what that means… it doesn’t come from a place of ownership, but as an identifier; something to not be ashamed about, the way i was ashamed of it.

    i love how you tackled your exploration head on with your daughter. i will do the same.

  2. Sona,

    I don’t think you have anything to worry about…recognition is half the battle.

    As for my daughter & son – I always tackled everything head on with them, but I didn’t recognize adoption was an issue until about two(?) years ago. So we’re all working hard on this now, trying to catch up and stomp on that void.

  3. I’ve been meaning to post about wearing hanbok. I kind of wish everyone wore them all the time – they just make sense.

  4. I am as honest as I can be with my children, but I haven’t asked them to take on my past. That I am the product of surviving pain doesn’t feel like something they should have to take on.

    And yeah, that is partially because they are adopted.

  5. I hope you do not reject Korean culture all together. There is a lot to like about Korean culture. Even though your parents did not leave you with any history, you can learn and serve as the genesis for your children.

  6. David:

    Culture – yes.
    Society – no (though I can see it is not without benefits for those who were raised here)

  7. Ed,

    One shouldn’t ask children to take on the pain of adults. But also, it’s not harmful to let them know you can truly relate to them through this thing called adoption. You can say you have a hole in your life without going into painful details. You are going to have some incredible conversations in the future.

  8. Chosunking,

    I’d like to assemble images and make a real post of it instead of having an answer buried here…

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