And then we grow up…

I remember the first time I was in a room full of Asian people. I was with a friend who was also on his own journey to self-Asian discovery, and sheer panic froze me in my tracks.  I was afraid I was going to get lost.  My friend was excited, surely he could find the woman of his dreams here.  But me, I was really scared.  There was not a single blond head in the room and I felt more invisible than ever.  As I traversed through the crowd that weekend, I discovered that I had a whole community of people just like me and it was glorious!  People who broke down the stereotypes of being Asian and all that goes with it; women who were powerful in voice and body.  It was amazing to see that I was not alone.  But, then again, that whole being adopted part was nagging me.  That weekend solidified that I was still stuck in limbo.

So when I graduated from undergraduate school, I traveled to Korea to live there for a year.  I worked in the orphanage that was my home before I came to America.   Again, I panicked when those doors opened at the airport to a sea of black heads and not a single Caucasian face.  I was a terrible tourist those first three months – complaining about the hygiene, the sexism, the disorganization of the country, the then terrible nonsensical bus system.  I was lost and completely out of my element, so I hung on tight to my American way of life judging everything and rejecting everything.  Then something happened four months in.  I started to understand
Korean, actually started to speak.  I started to see humanity, gentleness and curiosity.  I started to be quiet and listen and observe and with that began my love affair for my country of birth and her people.  But again, there was still something nagging at me, because I knew I could not be here forever.  I realized that half my heart and soul belonged in America.

Four years later, when I was in a room of 400 other Korean adoptees, I realized that I was finally home.  THAT was truly a peaceful pandemonium.  I was in the company of my true family, all of us betwixt and between.  I made friendships with people who are part of my family now.  I found we speak the same language, the language of the desire to belong, to be accepted, to empower and to raise consciousness about what it means to be a person with duality.

Now, almost a dozen years from that first conference, I am settling in and hopefully I have grown up just a little bit.

3 thoughts on “And then we grow up…

  1. Thanks, Kevin, for this interview and for the work you’ve been doing.I don’t take issue with cliiivty; in fact, we often have conversationswith many organizations with whom we vehemently disagree, but we do so in a civil tone. We even collaborate and work with those organizationsbecause at the end of the day, we feel we can accomplish more with collaboration and cliiivty and finding shared ground. Isolating ourselves from those who do hold power, whether those folks deserve it, is noteffective for policy-making. I appreciate the tone of your interviewand thank you for keeping it civil.However, keeping it civil doesn’t mean letting it off the hook. One doesn’t need to actually yell to hold another’s feet to the fire. JCICS under Mr. Defilipo’s watch has consistently ignored reports ofunethical behavior in its members, claiming that it is not aregulatory body. If he wants to speak for the children , it wouldcertainly behoove Mr. DiFilipo to do his part to ensure a cleaner,more ethical system, including one that holds accountable adoptionservice providers (and this is true for both his work with JCICS andCOA). I do think you could have challenged him a little moreaggressively. Doing so doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to collaborate in the future, nor should it.On the issue of deportation this is an issue which is broadly and easily supported. I think it is a great idea to work with any other organization who will roundly support and champion this issue because it should have happened long ago, when CCA was passed. Ethica would be thrilled to support a coalition of folks pushing this issue. As you know, we recognize that the adult adoptee voice has been underrepresented in discussions and as part of our strategic plan, we are reorganizing our board so that at least one-third of our members are adult adoptees. Thank you very much for helping us make some of those connections.As far as Tom, Trish, and Tom’s history with Ethica is concerned (which was somehow dredged up in this discussion and elsewhere), I feel the need to clarify to state that neither Tom nor Trish is involved in Ethica’s activities at this point. Tom once served in an advisory capacity to Ethica in its nascent days (think circa 2003). Trish was the founder of Ethica and she left Ethica about four years ago. It would be fair to criticize Ethica for its current activities but it is unfair to link our current practices today with either Tom or Trish (whether that reflects well or poorly on us). I am shocked that Tompublicly identified his loose ancient historical affiliation with Ethica, as it’s been almost 10 years since his involvement. If he has to point to his affiliation with Ethica from 10 years ago as evidence for his commitment to ethics, that should speak volumes for his work in upholding ethics in adoption today.Rachel, speaking for myself, not Ethica

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