A Fine Balance

[This photo was taken while I was at Haeinsa, a beautiful Buddhist temple in the countryside of South Korea, Β© 2008 Jae Ran Kim]

The photo above sums it all up for me. Balancing precariously all the different aspects of my life and hoping it doesn't all topple down!

Today is the first day in a new phase of my life. I leave early tomorrow for a family vacation and when I return on Labor Day, I begin life as a Ph.D. student at the School of Social Work researching adoption and child welfare. I am excited and nervous about managing all this work ahead of me and trying to be present for my kids and Mr. HM and my friends and loved ones too. It's a long -haul project here. By the time the ink on my dissertation is dry, one of my kids will be in college and the other one in high school. I may have many gray hairs when all is said and done.

This is the unexpected and unforeseen culmination of my many passions and interests over the past twenty years, something I only dared to dream of a few years ago. Despite being a venture taken squarely in mid-life, I know I would not have been ready to tackle it until now. Until things in my personal life had settled enough to give me the breathing room to move ahead. I had lots of things to figure out, and blogging at Harlow's Monkey for the past 2 1/2 years has been an important part of that growth. I have worked out a lot of thoughts here in this blog, tested some theories and concepts and met a lot of amazing people in real life, just because of being present in the blog'o'sphere.

However, because of this new phase in my life, I am going to have to bid all my readers a fond farewell – at least for now, and for a long time to come. I just can not keep up with the demands of blogging as I have. While I have enjoyed my time in the sun, it's just time to move on (or else my adoption -related commitment issues are in play here, *wink*). And honestly, it was never my intention for the blog to become a forum for adoptive parents (no offense to all the great adoptive parents I've met along the way). I've been chided for not being more "open" and for being perhaps too hard or single-minded in my expressed opinions about the adoption experience. I'm tired of all that. I wanted to blog — about my experiences as a transracial and transnational adoptee, my take on the adoption profession, my views about how society views adoption. It was not my intention to create a place for debate or even dialog, really – this endeavor was just to present a pov that most adoptive parents and adoption professionals didn't really know or understand.

Harlow's Monkey became more than my blog, it became my persona and took over my life. Many great things have happened as a direct result of this blog. Thank you to everyone who took the time to give me feedback on how the blog has impacted your lives. Thanks especially to all the adoptees…honestly, you're the reason I kept going this long.

This website will remain as a resource for anyone who stumbles across it, and for those who want to take a walk down memory lane. I hope there is sufficient information here that will continue to be applicable for adoptees and adoptive parents and professionals alike. In a few weeks I will be closing comments on the blog, but if you want to contact me regarding some of the content on the blog (or for re-print permission) feel free to e-mail me.

There are so many posts in my draft box I never finished. I have lots more to say, just not the time to say it. Not for a while anyway…we'll see how it goes…I'm closing the book club too. Sadly, I don't think I'll have time to read any fiction for a very long time. However, I'll still be around at Anti-Racist Parent and Kimchi Mamas when I can. Who knows? In the future there may be a post or two about my adventures
being an adoptee researching and studying adoption research and
navigating that tricky terrain.

Thanks for being faithful readers, and for all you adoptees out there . . . well, you'll likely see me again out there somewhere. Those of you who know the places I frequent will probably find me in the blog'o'sphere doing my thing. Give me a wave.


Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

46 thoughts

  1. Delurking finally to thank you so much for sharing all your feelings, questions, knowledges. I still have a lot to learn but I feel more prepared and open because of your blog.
    All the best in this new phase of your life!

  2. As a fellow transracial adoptee, I want to say thank you for blogging here for as long as you did. It is no exaggeration to say that I feel empowered because of things that you wrote here, and I have been comforted many times just by knowing that I’m not alone. You have been (and I know will continue to be) an incredible voice and advocate for the transracial adoptee community, and for that too I am thankful.
    I hope you have a great family vacation, and best wishes as you begin your Ph.D.

  3. Jae Ran! Good luck to you. I wish you continued success in all your chosen endeavours. As an adoptive parent not only have you taught me so much, you have shown me how much I have to learn. And for that I am very thankful. Thank you. Take care.

  4. Jae Ran , I know I’m speaking for many more than myself when I say that your thoughts and voice will be missed. I know you didn’t intend this blog to be for adoptive parents, but I’m very grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to be a fly on the wall here.
    Best wishes as your journey takes a new, exciting and challenging path…
    P.S. Will you be attending the St. John’s conference this year?

  5. Thank you for putting in writing those things you wanted to work out. It has helped many people in many different ways.
    Congratulations on your new direction and good luck!

  6. Oh, I’m going to miss Harlow’s Monkey. I loved reading your posts every day. I will miss your incredible honesty, your wisdom, your pov as a TRA and adoption social worker, your views on international adoption, your photography, your story….
    I wish you the very, very best in your next chapter. Thank you for sharing so much with your readers.

  7. I find it difficult to convey what I want to say. What I want to say is I’m proud to have known you but I’ve never met you.
    Your blog has become a meaningful part of my daily life. I will miss that.
    I wish you the best of journeys and continued success.

  8. Jae Ran, I thank you for your advice and insight. As an adoptive parent who definitely wants to see the view from another angle, you’ve provided so much more than I can adequately say. As I was reading your post, I kept thinking “oh, please say you’ll leave your blog up as a resource.” Thank you for that. It’s invaluable. Blessings and best wishes, and Kahmnsahmnida to YOU! (My son’s now in Tae Kwon Do…I know what that means! Yay!)

  9. Thank you for your blog. I’m sure a lot of what you write is written for your own satisfaction. But I’ve learned a lot from it, and in many ways find your work selfless. You’ve helped me learn how to be a better parent and human being, and I’m sure in the future your new clients will feel the same. I’m sad to see the blog go, but I wish you the best of luck. Congratulations!

  10. Hi,
    Thanks for letting me “listen in” for the past few years. I have learned so much and I feel like TRA’s of the next generation have benefitted from your insights so much, even though educating parents was not what you set out to do, thanks for letting me learn. Good luck!

  11. Good luck to you! I know you have a long road ahead, but hopefully a very fulfilling one. I am in the early stages of seeking my PhD, I thought the MA would be enough, but there is always more.
    Thank you for all of the support you give and resources you provide. I will continue to come and learn from all of the links you have shared. I know you didn’t begin or write for us AP’s, but you have helped in more ways than you know. I feel like a better prepared parent and hopefully one as open and honest as I can be with my daughter as the questions continue to come, the encounters and life events move us in wanted (watching her grow and become a woman proud of who she is) and unwanted directions (racism), and one who is able to assist her (if she chooses) in any direction relating her adoption and finding her birth family.
    Just thank you. You will be missed, but you will also have a big cheering section wishing you the best in your professional and personal journeys.

  12. Jae Ran, thank you for all you have taught me about being an ally. I am a better parent and friend for it. Best wishes as you continue on your way. May your journey be your joy.

  13. Jae Ran, it’s impossible for me to tell you how much I’ve learned from you. I’m absolutely thrilled that you are grabbing your dream! Go for it!
    I’ll be visiting you on ARP and Kimchi Mamas, but do hope you drop a post here from time to time to tell us how you are.
    You’re the best!!

  14. Well, well,well… another TR adoptee pursuing adoption research. It’s about time!
    In all seriousness, JR, I will tell you something to hopefully keep you motivated along the arduous journey to the doctoral degree. This was told to me by a friend who already had her doctorate as i was starting to work on mine. it was something I held onto dearly to tell myself over and over when i found myself deep in the reading and writing, wondering what i had gotten myself into: “You will be FIERCE with a Ph.D!”
    And you will, too, because you already are, even without one! Looking forward to welcoming you into the ranks of academia at the other end as a fellow TR adoptee researcher…

  15. I know you didn’t write for us AP’s, but I think your writing may have helped some future TRA’s. “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” I wish you all the best.

  16. Best of luck to you as you venture forth into a new chapter of your life! It’s been a privilege to read your blog and benefit from your perspective. I have no doubt you’ll continue to do important work in the adoption field and the world will be the better for it. Thanks!

  17. Until we meet again πŸ™‚
    Not that we ever met, but… I can’t wait for the day in 20 years or so that you sit down at your computer and tell us about all of the research you’ve been doing. How COOL will THAT be!
    You’re going to change the future.
    Thank you for the past and what lies ahead,
    from one adoptee to another πŸ™‚

  18. Thank you, Jae Ran. I know I’ve benefited from your writing even if I wasn’t your expected audience. I’m glad to be hear you’ll be heading somewhere wonderful as you leave here.

  19. I am very excited for you! Your blog, which I only recently discovered has been a wonderful source of information for me as an AP. Yes, I know that you don’t blog for us, but your experiences, shared so boldly, are helpful to us as we strive to be the best parents we can be to our children. As a social worker who works with adoption and foster care, your willingness to express your pov has been a tool for helping me to help other APs to consider issues and to grow in their willingness and their ability to help their children to have the best lives possible… Thank you… for being a change agent…

  20. Thanks again for all of your posts – I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts over the past few years and wish you the best of luck.

  21. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog very much and I’ve gained a lot from learning about your perspective on things. I hope to see you over at Kimchi Mamas from time to time. Best of luck in the future!

  22. Here’s hoping that you find your university experience to be all you desire. What a great opportunity to be enriched by all you meet and do there! Thinking of you and wishing you the best

  23. JAE RAN!!! thank you SO MUCH for HM. it’s an amazing resource and you are an amazing person. i’m so glad we met and that i’m going to be your neighbor… although kpn informed me that should i choose to live in st paul, none of my south mpls friends will visit me 😦
    anyway, you might be starting a phd program, but i think they should just give you an honorary degree because you’ve already contributed so much to tra scholarship. but from a finishing (crossing fingers) phd to a beginning phd: GOOD LUCK πŸ™‚

  24. I don’t even know what to add, but I echo what so many others are saying. What you’ve shared has been very appreciated, and I wish you the best of luck on your research. Hope to see you around the Twin Cities…

  25. Thanks so much for your blog. Sorry to see it end as I look forward to checking it often! But I know you are moving on to bigger things, and I like what that one person said. You, too, will be fierce with a PhD. You have shaped the way I have raised my daughter from China. Immersed in the local Chinese community. Reading your blog led me to strive to raise my child to “feel” Chinese, and she does, proudly. You have done so much good. I know you will do even more on your new journey.

  26. May the next season of your life be everything you need it to be. I will be forever thankful for the chance to read what you’ve written here at Harlow’s Monkey. Thanks a ton.

  27. Thank you for sharing your insights and your knowledge. Thank you for opening your heart to us so we can understand what it feels like. Thank you for keeping your work up so that others can learn. Thank you!

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