Lately I’ve been having reunion envy. It’s not about getting-to-meet-your-family envy: It’s more just being left out; of remaining one in the dark. I think that’s because there are so few adoptees living in Korea, and most of the ones that do have found their families. So for the past 2.5 years I have had to listen to how difficult and problematic it is for them, and they forget what it was like not knowing. I guess privilege comes in many forms.
It’s also about being an older adoptee. Us older adoptees were processed en masse, without care, and with little regard to our individual rights as people, so there is very little trace of us.
I met my one Korean friend Miwha, who told me she wrote a poem about my reunion show appearance. She was struck by how I explained that every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, but how adoptees only know the middle and the end, and how I can not feel complete without knowing the beginning. Miwha thought that was unintentional poetry, but actually it was by design. I wanted to explain our loss in a different way, and somehow knew that Koreans would be able to relate to that.
So us older adoptees are far less likely to find the beginning of our stories. And here in Korea, I am surrounded by 20 something and 30 something adoptees, but it’s really rare to meet anyone even close to my age, and if I do, we must all swallow that bitter pill. Likewise, us older adoptees were given to anyone who professed to be Christian, and without any instruction manual, not monitored well and sent to racially intolerant places. Many pills to be bitter about.
And yet, for all that post adoption past, I’m glad I wasn’t a more recent adoptee. I’m glad I wasn’t aware of all these issues when I was going through the inevitable angst of youth. It would have become fuel for every negative thought and an excuse for self-defeating, self-destructive behavior. And you can bet I see a lot of that in the younger adoptees I meet. Not to discount our shared losses and what having ones identity stripped away can do to a person, but being aware of ones pain while not having developed tools to deal with it, combined with the self-absorption of youth is not a good combination. Armed with as much information and networking as today’s young adult adoptees have, would I have had a healthy response?
So I’m glad I put this aside until I was older, with a huge variety of experiences to draw upon which temper and ameliorate. But I still want a beginning to my story.