Five Minutes

This week’s Wednesday poem I am dedicating to Sume.
This was one of the first poems I wrote while I was a stay-at-home mom.
This is for you, Sume, and all you other mothers and writers.

Five Minutes

Like Persephone, I walk between two worlds,
One of macaroni and cheese, Girl Scout meetings,
and Saturday trips to the grocery store.

In the morning, bleary-eyed mothers gather at the park.
Wrinkled and stained,
we talk about the pressing problems of our times;
how much our kids eat, sleep and shit.

In the evening, my mother-in-law calls with the latest news-
Grandma sleeps through the night
she is able to eat solids now
and has no more diarrhea.

Shaking loose the gathered thoughts of my day
in between peanut butter sandwiches,
scattered crayons and rinse cycles
I find or steal five minutes of frantic, half-written sentences
scratched on spiral notebooks or
the back side of school menus.
I am afforded an athlete’s second wind
breathing into my lungs enough hope to
make it through dinner, baths, pajamas and lullabyes.

Late at night I fall into the other part of me,
of pungent kimchee, clove cigarettes, novels
read for the tenth time, late hours of
writing until my hand aches and
my eyes lose focus.

I lose time, stalking my muse in the shadows of my house
fighting the drone of the bedroom tv,
my husband’s snoring and
the heavy breathing of children lost in their own dreams.

With the streak of grey slicing the darkness
of morning, I fade away like Nosferatu,
a pale shadow of my nightly activity.

Strong black coffee awaits me
Another day of laundry and dishes and meals to make;
perhaps today I will not die a hundred small deaths
but find five minutes, somehow
to write my salvation.

The Name Game: Part 3 – Lessons from Down Under

I am completely astounded at how much traffic I have received since
I wrote about naming. I was only putting down my thoughts about my own
process, because a friend of mine had recently decided to change her
name back to her Korean name too. When I was going through the "should
I – shouldn’t I" stage, I was very fortunate that I had friends who had
done it already, and they really supported my decision and helped me
with the difficult and rewarding transition.

When I was writing The Name Game: Part 2,
I was researching like crazy to find information on something I’d heard
but couldn’t confirm – that Australia requires parents to keep their
adopted children’s names. I searched and searched and could not find
the information. But, thanks to a reader who sent me the following
information, I’d like to pass on to you how this issue of naming is
approached in Australia.

I was pleased to see that many of the points my TRA friends and I
make about naming are the same answers that this Australian law makes
as well.

To change a child’s name requires
the services of a Solicitor and ‘special circumstances’ need to be
outlined. In this sense the government department in Australia who
manage Intercountry Adoption have published the following statement:

DoCS (Department of Community Services) Rationale supporting retention of the name of a child.

Each person’s identity is made up of a number of components; their
name is a core part of their identity. Children recognise their name
from about 4 or 5 months of age. A child’s name helps them to identify
her/himself as unique and separate from all other children- a powerful
factor in the development of a “sense of self”.

In the case of intercountry adoptees, the child’s name usually
reflects their race and cultural identity, and is one of the few
remaining links they have with their birth country.

The Adoption 2000 (the Act) proclaimed this year states in the
“Objects and adoption principles’’ –“The child’s given name or names,
identity, language and cultural and religious ties should, as far as
possible, be identified and preserved.” Section 101 (5) of the Act
upholds this principle of the importance of retaining a child’s name.

The New South Wales Law Reform Commission (LRC) outlined in Report
81 Review of the Adoption of Children Act 1965 (NSW) the rationale
behind their recommendation to retain birth names of adopted children.
The report cited Australia’s undertaking in the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of the Child to “respect the right of the
child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and
family relations”.

The LRC also noted “The intercountry adoptee endures enormous change
and dislocation in the process of being adopted overseas. The child is
uprooted from all that is familiar, including relationships and
language. The child’s name is one of the few remaining links with his
or her birth culture. More importantly, though, the child’s name is an
integral part of his or her identity”.

Keeping a child’s name is a sign of respect to the birth family and
to the overseas country from which the child is adopted and allows the
child’s racial and cultural identity to be valued and preserved.

Most children arriving from overseas know their name-even young babies respond to their name. This is the most compelling reason to keep this name.

Some reasons given to explain why parents want to change their child’s name:

* They wish to give the child a name to make them part of their family and give them the context of their Australian family.
While this is a reasonable desire, every adopted child gets the surname
of their Australian family so the family is giving their name to their
child.

*They feel changing an intercountry adoptee’s
name to an Anglo name makes it easier for the child and they say other
migrants coming to Australia do the same.

It is
understandable that a parent wants to protect their child from
difficulties. Still a migrant retains their surname so their
cultural/racial heritage can be identified. So for example most people
would realise that “a Peter Wong” is Chinese by his surname. The child
lives with their parents/family members and maintains their native
language and cultural/religious practices. An intercountry adoptee
whose forename is changed to an Anglo one loses this part of their
cultural/racial identity that would have been preserved if their
forename were kept.

*They feel because they changed their first child’s name, they need to do the same for their second.
Again this is a reasonable concern but adoption practice changes over
time and what was common practice when one child was placed with
adoptive parents can change by the time the next child is placed. We
find that generally parents are usually more than able to deal with
differences in practice over time, and to explain them appropriately to
their children.

It is in the above context that the Department supports retention of
names of non-citizen children and cannot support a change of name
unless there are exceptional circumstances. We sincerely believe it is
in the best interests of these children for them to retain their names.
These children do gain by being placed in a loving Australian adoptive
family but we must remember they do lose through adoption as well and the more we can reduce this loss the better for them.

From Dept of Community Services (Australia) – 2003

In the Shadow of My Family Tree

Originally published in Korean Quarterly, Spring 2004 Vol 7, No. 3

In the Shadow of My Family Tree

It all began with Martha Stewart. Yes, the same domestic diva whose recent decorating consisted of contemplating paint swatches for a jail cell; a few years back, I was taken with an issue of her eponymous self-titled magazine. On the front cover was a gorgeous, original rendering of a family tree. Inside the issue were many more examples, some using tree branches and cut paper leaves, others with photographs and calligraphy. I have never been daunted by a Martha Stewart project before, but as much as I wanted to, this was one I knew would never be attempted.

Humans are obsessed with their personal histories. What pride to trace your forefathers to the Mayflower or a past president or a king or queen. Witness the naming of sons after fathers (my husband is the third generation John in his family). Family names are important – I named our son Tate after my maternal grandparents, the same ones who claim descendency from Oliver Wolcott, who penned his signature on the Declaration of Independence. There is a whole industry surrounding Genealogy; web sites to search, books on compiling the data, magazines for the home anthropologist on the most beautiful and elegant method of presentation. More than mere surnames or the family schnoz, we desire to pass on to the next generation family culture, mythology, implied inherited virtues, and a historical context in which to frame the family’s journey.

I am adopted. I am trans-racially and trans-culturally adopted. What sounds exotic and mysterious to others is just a plain old fact to me. I was abandoned, found, placed in an orphanage and adopted a few years later. I have a life story, it’s just that no one knows what it is. I have spent periods of my life speculating; was I the product of a young unmarried birthmother, or the youngest in a poverty-stricken family forced to abandon me because they could not afford one more mouth to feed, or did my mother die giving birth to me? What I do know is that I was born sometime in 1968 in South Korea. That part of my life story is shared by the thousands of other Koreans adopted as children over the past fifty years.

I don’t recall having much issue with my lack of personal history until I had my first child. There were other issues to be sure. I was living and calling the people who cared for me my family, assuming their identities while ignoring mine. My parents say that when I first came to the U.S. I was very negative towards anything Korean, especially if someone spoke Korean to me. That is probably why they never dealt with my cultural heritage in any way – perhaps they took their cues from a scared and lonely three year old who had spent more than two thirds of her life in an orphanage and just wanted a permanent place to consider home. I was considered an American, period. I didn’t attend Korean culture camps, eat Korean food, attend a Korean church or learn to read, write or speak Korean. I never complained about this, even though as I reached my teen years it was something I thought about daily. I didn’t want to seem ungrateful at being given an opportunity to achieve the American dream.

Personal history only became a big deal for me when I became pregnant with my daughter. At my first prenatal check I had to fill out a standard medical history chart. Until my pregnancy I’d never had a reason to have regular medical care. Was there heart disease or breast cancer or diabetes in my family? Had I had chicken pox or German measles? I knew nothing of my personal medical history from birth to 3 years. As my belly grew so did the frequency of family history issues. At my baby shower I received a baby book and on the second page, there it was – two solid pages of family history waiting for my pen to fill in the blanks. I filled in John’s side of the family and my adoptive parents side.

But what is missing says more to me than anything else – somewhere out there is the rest of my history, the family who will never have their names documented in my genealogy because I will never know them. When I was a teenage I often had dreams about bumping into my twin sister in the midst of a huge crowd of people. I didn’t have a desire to actively find my biological family back then, but I was always dreaming about running into them at the local Dairy Queen or while walking around the lake. In my dreams, I always knew instinctively know they were my biological sister or brother or mother or father, even though I don’t remember being able to see their faces. Somehow I just knew.

My Korean name is Kim Jae Ran. That was the extent I knew about myself until a few years ago when my mother gave me a file she had found while cleaning out some boxes. Inside contained the sum of my whole life Before Adoption – mostly developmental reports from the orphanage and letters from local politicians helping speed the adoption process along.

Instead of first steps and first words, my files consists of “Jae Ran needs a lot more affections for her dark moods”, “Seldom gets smile as she is so spiritless” and “likes to play with children. Giggles and plays well.” My early childhood is a series of progress reports. How strange it was to read what someone thought of me as a baby. I often wonder what it was like for my birth mother or family to give me up. They wanted me to be safe so they abandoned me close to the local police. I wondered if they ever thought of me. When both of my children passed the age I was when I’d been abandoned I had a minor soul shaking. It was incomprehensible to me to have held on to my babies for fourteen months, then think about abandoning them.

My daughter Lucie was born in the image of her dad. From the beginning I was obsessed with who she looked like. Did she have my eyes? She had my nose. Her face shape and hair color were definitely not like mine. She had her dad’s skin color, eyebrows and curly hair. I assumed she would have the shock of thick, coarse inky black hair typical of Asians, not the fine, curly light brown hair from her paternal side of the family. All my friends and family members said it too; she looks just like her daddy.

This upset me. I’d spent my whole life standing out, the only dark head in family photographs. I wanted my children to at least resemble me. But as my kids grow, I begin to see myself more and more in them. I see my nose, and my smile too. I was going through some photos recently when I found one that I couldn’t believe was me, it looked exactly like my son.

My family tree is starting to fill up under me; the names of my children are the first small sprouts of new growth. I’ve included my adoptive family’s history for the baby books because after all, they are the ones who have been the known part of my kids lives.

However there are spiritual blanks where the Kim family’s names should be. I see the personal history and family I don’t know as the shadow of my family tree – not the big leafy one represented by my adoptive family and their history, but as the strong silent presence fluttering behind it. My adoptive family is the one who guided and raised me, shaping my character; but my biological family is my instinct.

I hope that somewhere on the other side of the world is the family whose family tree has a shadow space on a branch where my name should be.

Birth Rates & Bans

Images in this post are from my visit to Social Welfare Society in 2004.

When I was in Korea in 2004, I heard a "rumor" that the South Korean
government, worried about the falling birth rate, was offering tax
incentives for families who choose to have more than two children. This
from the same country where in the previous year (2003), 1,790 children would be sent out for adoption.

So I was curious when I came across this article from the Chosun Ilbo: Korea’s Birthrate Plunges to New Record Low .

It seems the rumors are true.

According to the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, South Korean women have an average of 1.17 children – the lowest in the world, even lower than Japan at 1.29 and China at 1.8, despite the government-imposed one-child law.

In one article, the director of social policy research at the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs was quoted as saying,

“We need to construct the appropriate social and
institutional environment to raise the fertility rate in the country .
. . For example, cash payments on the birth of a child and regular cash
payments for every second and subsequent birth up to the age of 5, and
an expansion of child care facilities."

The Korea Times reports that

Twenty-three local governments are providing one-off
payments of between 50,000 won to 1 million won ($1,000) for every
newborn in families from their second child. Pusan and 56 other cities
are providing higher incentives for families giving birth to their
third child.

Some of the incentives offered in some cities are:

* A one-time 3 million won payment to families for every child after the first
* Giving 300,000 won to foreign women married to Korean men
* A monthly 200,000 won childcare fee to families for their first
child, 300,000 won for their second, and 500,000 won for every child
after the third
* The ward office of Chung-gu, downtown Seoul, along with 70 other
local governments and ward offices nationwide, gives gift certificates
worth between 50,000 won to 300,000 won allowing families with newborns
to buy clothes, diapers, baby food and other childcare supplies.

Hmm. What I’m curious about is whether the government is offering
this kind of support to unmarried, single mothers? Or poor families who
struggle to keep the children they already have?

So even though South Korea has the lowest fertility rate in the world, and, according to Unicef’s Innocenti Report card the lowest teen birth rates in the world, the country is still sending children out for adoption.

Well, it seems this may be changing, according to the Korean Herald article "Lawmaker pushes ban on overseas adoptions":

As the country’s birthrate keeps plunging, an opposition
lawmaker came up with a desperate measure: an outright ban on
international adoption of Korean children.

Rep. Ko Kyung-hwa of the Grand National Party said yesterday she
plans to introduce legislation that would prohibit adoption of Korean
children by foreign parents outside Korea while systematically
supporting domestic adoption.

"Even as we struggle to counter a dropping birthrate and the aging
population, the number of international adoptions is higher than that
of domestic adoptions," explained Rep. Ko.

"To make a fundamental change, foreign adoptions should be banned
and the government needs to work proactively so that we could raise our
children here."

To promote domestic adoption, the lawmaker also proposed a state
subsidy for the child’s foster care during the adoption process, an
integrated database for adoption agencies and a reasonable adoption
fee, among others.

I’m curious about the reporters choice to use the words "desperate
measure" to describe the idea of banning international adoption. Isn’t international adoption itself the "desperate measure" South Korea felt forced to used back in the 1950s when the international adoptions first began?

Ok, so Made in Korea asked me to pontificate on the "social welfare" aspects of this. I’ll try my best.

I think intercountry adoptions from South Korea will indeed end in the relatively near future. Domestic adoption rates have
been steadily increasing. In the city of Kwangju, for instance, the
domestic adoption rate is now at 50% thanks to a lot of education and
public awareness efforts of organizations such as BACK.

But, as Sun Kyo from BACK discussed with me, it is not just about
babies – it’s about the whole Korean way of dealing with societal
issues. When I’ve been to Korea, one of the things I’ve noticed is that
in the public sphere, there appears to be no homeless, disabled or
indigent people. Where are they?

They are in places such as Ilsan, which used to be the Holt agency’s
orphange but now is an institution for mentally and physically disabled
Koreans. I visited Holt’s Ilsan Center
in 2000 and stayed overnight in the resident’s building – and
immediately thought of what it must have been like for mentally and
physically diabled individuals in the United States before the last two
decades.

The thing is, Korea is not really that far behind where we, as the
United States, were just a few decades ago. Young women who found
themselves pregnant were routinely sent to "maternity homes" just as
young Korean women do today. Although the biggest boom in maternity
homes happened in the 1960s (there were approximately 300 homes then),
I was able to find 80 maternity homes in the U.S. that are in operation
today.

I was talking to a colleague just about a month ago, and he worked
in a mental institution back in the day. Even up through the 1980s, he
said, they were inhumane and crude places for people with mental health
issues. It’s a markedly different story today, where the idea is to
integrate children with severe mental and physical disabilities into
mainstream society. I worked for two years doing just that – working in
a residential treatment home for people with schizophrenia – and
helping them be integrated in larger society.

My point is, that I sometimes believe we Americans are quick to
judge and portray Korea (and other countries) as being so behind the
times, forgetting that our own historical practices are only a
generation or two behind us.

And I can’t mention it enough – we are still allowing
our African American children to be adopted to Canada and Europe. How
can we damn South Korean adoption practices, when our own country is
doing the same thing? See:
Foreign Adoption of African-American Babies Grows
Born in America, adopted abroad
Foreigners Adopting More African-American Babies

For Adoptive Parents

Being an Ally

As some of you who make the Transracial-Adoptee-Blog-Rounds know,
I’ve had a couple of friends who have had to move their blogs due to
harassment by adoptive parents. I don’t want to have to
password-protect or close off comments on my blog, because I believe
that people should be able to opine *respectfully* and *with manners.*

Let me just say, for the record, that I am not here to denigrate or
pass judgement on adoptive parents of internationally- or
transracially- adopted children. I am not here to educate you, give you
parenting advice or a “how-to” list. This blog was not written for you.
I write to share my experiences and my thoughts for my TRA friends and those who are our allies.

Therefore, I ask that if you visit this blog you respect everyone
else who visits too. I ask you to read these posts with an open mind. I
ask you to suspend judgement about us. Do not assume that if I write
about some hard truths that I, as an adult Korean American adoptee has
faced, that I must be (in any order) ANGRY – BITTER – RESENTFUL –
HAVE A BAD RELATIONSHIP WITH MY ADOPTIVE PARENTS – HATE MY ADOPTIVE
PARENTS – AM PSYCHOLOGICALLY DAMAGED – UNGRATEFUL
or HAD ABUSIVE ADOPTIVE PARENTS – or any other such assumption. If you want to engage and argue and debate my
truths, how are you going to respond to your own child’s future
experiences? Are you going to invalidate their feelings and experiences
too?

Here are some of the characteristics of Ally behavior versus Adversary behavior*** on the University of New Hampshire web site:

Don’t assume to completely know someone else’s experience.
Don’t judge others.
Keep an open mind.
Don’t assume you know another’s experience until you walk in their shoes, and even then, try to show empathy.
Understand your own privileges.
Acknowledge the power bestowed upon you based on your social group membership.
Don’t deny your privileges.
Interact and find support from other allies.
Help others understand their own privileges.
Let your actions speak louder than your words.
Believe that there are always possibilities for alliance building.
Respond with acts of kindness.
Don’t expect external rewards for your work as an ally Do it because it’s the right thing to do.
Walk your talk.
Know there are different ways of doing and seeing everything.
Be comfortable with criticism and feedback.
Try to acknowledge your own prejudices and baggage.
Challenge the norm.
Don’t get stuck feeling guilty for the oppression of the past.
Take ownership in your own conscious and/or unconscious participation in oppression.
Accept that others may stereotype you.
Demonstrate your ally role through your actions rather than trying to convince others of it through your word.
Never speak for an entire group’s experience or try to represent an entire group.
Don’t expect someone else to represent an entire social group.
Recognize that no one form of oppression is more significant than another – there is no hierarchy of oppressions.
Know that the past is not your fault, but the present and future are your responsibility.

I believe there is no way to lay out the path for every family’s
journey in some prescribed way. Each one of us is a unique and creative
individual who has some damn hard work to do in their lives to get to
where they need to be. Who am I to tell you how to do that?

The reason I share is to encourage those in power to review and reassess their strategies,
so that future generations of transracially- and internationally-
adopted children have a safe and secure sense of themselves in an
increasingly diverse and global world.

***[from Barnes, L., & Ederer, J. (2000, April). From agents to allies: Active citizenship in our multicultural communities. Workshop Presentation at the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Conference, Washington, DC.]

Crossing Chasms

Chasms

I just got back from a viewing of the documentary Crossing Chasms by Jennifer Ahrndt. I took my mentee to this movie + discussion at Children’s Home Society and Family Services, where I mentor as part of the M&M program.

Jennifer was one of the early Korean American adoptees to share her
story through the medium of film. Her documentary is very important
because it is among the first narratives that received wide attention,
and it definitely furthered our community’s voice in the world of
adoptee-land.

Very often, people forget that we adoptees grow up and have to
navigate our multiple spaces of identity and community. In many minds
(and as a parent, I’m definitely guilty of this as well), we think of
our kids as, well, kids.

Jennifer is very active in promoting discussion forums after her
movie viewings, and I’m always amazed that in every gathering of adult
adoptees, there is at least one who says, "I never knew these things
[other adoptees, movies, books, groups, culture camps, insert noun of
choice here] existed." Thanks to Jennifer and others like her, we are
getting our messages out there.

Here is Jennifer’s story on American Radio Works web site

Please support her work as an artist and filmmaker, and purchase her movie.

Wednesday poem

This poem was written when I was deep inside the motherhood wormhole.

untitled

in her most secret
quiet moments

after the kids
have fallen deep
in rolling waves of dreams

and even the dog
exhales sighs;
she tries

to re-knit
the unraveled threads
of her life.

wiping dry
the comfort of
peanut butter kisses

smoothing down the
fist-clenched gathers and
snot-wiped wrinkles

of her day.
Her chest opens,
she reaches in and

pulls out
her pulsing
heart, cradles it

in these quiet moments
listening to the
shadowy faint hurrahs

of lives not lived,
somewhere beyond the
silent smotherings

the drowning
gasps of air.

Quote

For all the adoptive parents of international or transracial adopted
children who think "love is enough" and that issues of race, culture
and ethnicity do not matter:

This quote was sent to me by a friend:

When the powerful are too arrogant to review and
reassess their strategies, the heaviest price is paid by the poor and
powerless.
Amnesty International Secretary-General Irene Khan

What if we changed the wording to read:

When [adoptive parents] are too arrogant to review
and reassess their strategies, the heaviest price is paid by [their
children].

Searching Seoul documentary

Me (on the right) and Kim, Korea 2000 "Seoul Searching"

I received a phone call today from a news director at KSTP-TV (Channel 5 in the Twin Cities). In June, the station is going to re-broadcast an Emmy award winning documentary of myself and my friend Kim that originally aired in June of 2000, called "Searching Seoul."

This documentary profiled the two of us as we went to Korea for the
first time, and our birth family search, including an appearance on the
Korean television show, "Achim Madang."
Achim Madang, is one of the most popular television shows in South
Korea, and is a show in which people look for long-lost loved ones. It
has increasingly become one of the most visible ways for adoptees to
find birth family or birth family information.

Many adoptees have found birth families by appearing on Achim
Madang. The show is very controversial, because it is highly dramatic
and focuses so much on emotions (you will see many, many shots of my
teary-eyed face). I was told by the Korean producers before the show
began that the more I cry, the better it will appear to the broadcast
audience. They didn’t have to tell me, the combination of stress and
anxiety of appearing live on KBS‘s
#1 most watched show (- forget about the internal drama of publicly
appealing to my birth family) – was more than enough to get the
waterworks going.

In a week, Kim and I will be shooting an update for this
re-broadcast. As we were talking today about this re-hash of the past,
it occured to both of us that a two-minute update can’t possibly
capture how much this trip changed us, and what different people we are
today.

When I went to Korea in 2000, I was a stay at home mom. My kids were
then 2 and 6 and I had only recently begun to really delve into my
transracial and international adoption "issues." I was working hard to
figure out why so many things in my life just weren’t going the way I
wanted. That trip to Korea was a catalyst for change. I consider it to
be one of the defining moments of my life.

That isn’t to say that everything was roses when I returned home. It
was the opposite, in fact. Because now, I had to face this reality that
who I was when I left was not who I was when I returned. I saw
everything completely different. Things I had skirted around before
Korea were my obsessions upon my return.

Issues such as race, my status as an adoptee, knowing I’d never fit
in in Korea, the realisation that as I left, thousands more children
would be leaving Korea as citizens no more. Split loyalties between
wanting to be part of my adoptive family yet wanting to find my birth
family. I had such a difficult time re-entering my life. Things could
not stay the same.

My adoptive parents are incredibly loving and well-meaning. They
have never once looked upon me as being anything but their daughter,
and for that I am quite fortunate. My parents have also never once seen
me as being Korean, and I mean that in the literal sense. Yes, they didn’t deny I was born in Korea, but I wasn’t Korean-American, I was just American.

Growing up, my parents did not incorporate a single thing about
Korea in our family’s life. The only acknowledgements I received were
from my maternal grandmother, and her sister, my great aunt. My great
aunt, for example, once sent me an embroidered silk pillow that a
visiting Korean scholar had given to her. I was twelve years old, and
to this day, it was the only visible acknowledgement of my Korean
heritage by any member of my adoptive family. In sixth grade, I did a
social studies report on South Korea. My parents had absolutely no
interest in my project. They did not help me with it, or encourage me.
I ended up doing this project completely on my own, and that was the
last time I showed interest in my native country until I was thirty
years old.

My adoptive parents were very hurt by my trip to Korea in 2000 and
my choice to have a documentary crew follow me. How could I have
prevented this hurt? I couldn’t, because we had never communicated about my adoption or my ethnicity.
My parents had absolutely no idea that I’d ever want to visit Korea.
Literally, they were shocked. Especially since for the twenty seven
years I’d lived as their daughter, I’d never brought it up, too afraid
that I’d hurt their feelings. What none of us realized was that I was
protecting their feelings at the expense of my own. It took me until I
was thirty years old to be able to place my needs at a higher priority
than my adoptive parents feelings.

Even today, six years later, we don’t really talk about it. The name
change was an even bigger challenge, as they felt it was a purposeful
attempt to reject them and what they’d done for me. It took a long time
for them to realize that changing my name had more to do with me and not them. What I wrote about my face matching my name was something they’d never considered, and did not think was important.

Of course, it couldn’t be important to them, because as Anglo-Americans, their faces do match their names.

I was thinking, as Kim and I were talking about our show being
re-broadcast, that the search is never over. I’ve come to believe that
I will go to Korea many more times in my life, and each time I will
discover something new that I will have to incorporate into who I am.
That’s the process and the journey.

I will forever be "Searching Seoul."