Still agitated about the comment on my crappy language acquisition.

Well, for those new to the story, I spent my whole life bristling at the mention of the dreaded K word and avoided people from there whenever possible.  Except for one week of camp when I was 12, I never even knew any Korean people.  I only met one personally three years ago and she’s a gyopo.   The kids at camp were all gyopos.  That’s over forty years and never met an adoptee…

The first time I met any KADs (korean adoptees) was the end of last summer, when I went to a local KAD meeting in Seattle.  I only went because I had a nervous breakdown the winter beforehand and realized I wasn’t going to make it to 45 if I didn’t look in the mirror and acknowledge the source of my wounds.  I only went to that one KAD meeting and a book reading by the KAD author, Janine Vance.  I’ve only read that one book about adoption and  also Outsiders Within by Jane Jeong Trenka.

I am brand new to adoption land and Korea land.  Pretty freaking incredible, what people do to survive and protect their fragile hearts…

Meanwhile, the economy in the U.S. tanked and overnight my job dwindled to maybe a week’s work a month.  I tried to get other work, but was unsucessful because I was over qualified and expensive, companies were laying people off instead of hiring, and there were too many younger cuter happier people to hire.

So I decided to come to Korea and check out this thing that I denied and yet which oppressed me my whole life, but knew zero about.  This was just a couple months before I was to get on the plane and go.  In that time, I had to kiss all my dreams of what I’d wanted to accomplish in the states goodbye, liquidate all the things I’d collected in a lifetime that I loved, and say goodbye, maybe permanently, to the few friends remaining who had weathered the breakdown with me, and try and study Korean in a vacuum by myself with my middle aged brain cells when I wasn’t crying. This was not a fun exciting reinvention.

So no, Mei Ling, I don’t know jack.  I’m retarded in the most literal sense. Does that make you feel better?

And I’m documenting just how retarded I am, even though it slows my progress down even further.  I’m doing it for anyone who cares about me and anyone who might be interested in the perspective a Korean person trapped inside a white person trapped inside a Korean body views this place and these people who threw her away to be exiled and abused in another country.  I’m here to learn why and how to prevent it from happening again.

Rant over.

Now, I have to make a power point presentation for the adoptee conference at the end of the month.

9 thoughts on “Today

  1. Correction. I met adoptees once or twice when I was little. My parents dragged me to Detroit because Bertha Holt was visiting. They made me give her a kiss. Euww. No child should have to kiss an old stranger. ESPECIALLY after being forced to be thrown in with dozens of other kids you have nothing in common with but almond shaped eyes and black hair…

  2. I’ve never understood the desire to measure various people by our own stick. The only competition worth running is the one with ourselves.

    All of us are on different paths and are at any time the result of all of that has happened to us. That is influenced by where we have gone as a society/species/whathaveyou but we remain individuals.

    I have been underestimated my entire life. My own father doesn’t even comprehend the things I do. That I have achieved. But I can’t expect him to.

    It makes me a bit sad to hear how hard this adventure is, but I keep thinking how brave you are to have gone there.

    A little story: when I was first aware of the adoptee community, mostly through Trenka’s book, I felt a bit harsh towards her complaints about whiteness. Not that I disagree per se. I quickly realized how wrong I was when I saw what she had to do in order to find her way. She put herself in a similar situation and repatriated herself. That blew me away.

    I try to be a compassionate understanding person, but bravery such as yours is what it took for me to let go of my adoptive parentness and see what it is I needed to see.

    I wish I could hand over some of my indomitable hardness or the happiness that I tend to feel about life. But I believe you will find your own.

  3. Thanks, Ed.

    I think anyone that knows me knows that I’ve been pretty indomitable. But, my skin IS getting thinner as I age. I think it’s a good thing, actually. Well, others don’t think so but it’s good for me so I can become more human.

    As for the happiness thing, I still only feel comfortable shut away. I think I’m much like a feral cat, scrappy because I have no choice, yet afraid of people because they step on you.

    Anyway, your kids are lucky to have you. Most people just sit on their selfish narcissistic bums and pretend to be parents. Very few challenge themselves the way you have. And I know so many adopters who were adoptees don’t.

    The one time I saw a therapist, she said we MUST be in relation to someone to exist. So I can see where people have children to validate themselves. But that’s such a poverty filled existence. When a parent is there to validate the child, then at least there is balance.

    I’m looking for a cat, but I’ve only seen furry monster cats thus far…

  4. Cats are good. I used to be a dog person, but turned into a cat person.

    Only trouble is cats haven’t gotten the memo yet.

    And yeah I can see a toughness in you. Let’s just say your share of the pain burden seems to be so much from my point of view.

  5. “trouble is cats haven’t gotten the memo yet”

    Yeah, they’re aloof free spirits, and not so needy: that’s why we like them.

    I didn’t feel pain until about two years ago. Now I am raw hamburger. I am waiting and hoping for my share of it to be over soon. I have never been positive and don’t know how. But I am always optimistic, if that makes any sense…

  6. Jeannine is a great KAD who is passionate about her work. I was fortunate to meet her and start a dialogue with her about adoption. There are a lot of other books out there on international adoption, not just Korean ones. Some are memoir, some are fiction. And as for not knowing Korean or just waking up to adoption as an issue in your life doesn’t mean you are retarded. Means you are awake and human. You got there at forty-five? I got there at 30. Why does it matter when?

  7. I’m sorry you had to kiss grandma Holt. I know how you felt. My mother forced me to hold her and smile during the Family Tour to take a photo of us. I tore the photo several years ago.

    If it’s possible to measure retardness for the difficulty to learn our birth language, then I’m certainly the most retarded in the whole world.

    During 9 years, I lived and thought in Korean; I lived and behaved as Korean naturally. During two more years, I could speak Korean… But I still can’t relearn the language, I can’t behave like a Korean despite all my memories of my life in Korea.

    I went there to search my family totally unprepared, which was stupid, thinking that I would simply take back my old place in my old Korea, not even knowing there was a community of korean adoptees online or GOAL. I came back here and still didn’t know for six more years that there were korean adoptees just like me.

    I’m a slow learner, despite I knew Holt lied on my case since the beginning, it took another visit to Korea and more years to understand the whole thing.

  8. Myung Sook,

    I am always humbled by your story. Thanks so much for finding me and being so supportive. I was truly alone as an adoptee before you came into my life.

    Sharing your painful journey has helped me deal with my own. I know others can not fathom our loss or the impossible task of gaining some of it back, but you help people understand.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you…

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