So close yet so far


Living here one develops amnesia.  With all the day to day challenges, I forget that I’m ethnically Korean, or that I’m an adoptee, or that I am in Birth Family Search.

About 30 miles away, as the crow flies, yet 4 hours by public transportation (due to the mountainous terrain one must travel to Seoul and then head back through valleys on the other side) is where I was found (born?).

People related to me in some way, in two, three, four degrees of separation, possibly one? pass by me every week.  Somewhere very near are cousin, aunts, brothers? sisters? Many nieces and nephews.

It’s all very surreal.

But a whole world is in collusion to keep me living in another dimension, invisible, unable to reach or touch: a deaf mute ghost moving amongst them.

So close.  For years.  Just over the crest of that hill are people that begat me.  A whole community that knew of my existence.  A whole community that blotted out that memory.  A whole country who squirms in discomfort at the mirror I hold up inadvertently just by my presence.

I’ve never really felt shame.  Can’t relate to it.  But thinking of mass erasure like this: the necessity of it, the pain of it, the whole notion of a whole community knowing its children and then having to go work their daily lives around their conspicuous absence.  And I think I now understand how shameful that would be. Profoundly shameful.

It’s a shame so great it trumps reunion and reconciliation.  I might as well be living in another solar system, I am that far from vanquishing anything that deep in their paralyzed hearts.

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2 thoughts on “So close yet so far

  1. How do you forget you are an adoptee when people ask you why you can’t speak the language?

  2. People don’t speak to me most of the time, so I get that question only as a fraction of that rare time I am spoken to. Just like in America, my sense of myself is perceived by what I am looking at, and as always I am looking at them as something not like me. When I am with Koreans, I primarily identify more as a foreigner than as an adoptee, as I am the foreign teacher, though I identify more as an adoptee than as a Korean. But when I am with other foreigners, I identify more as an adoptee than a foreigner. And when I am back in America, I am white until I look in a mirror. Like it or not, I am what other people think I am/will allow me to be at the moment. It’s easy to forget. I want to forget.

    I never wanted to be white or any of those things. I want to not have to think about it and just live my life accepted at more than face value.

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