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.