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.