I am unabashedly an Orprah Winfrey fan. I watched every episode of her 25th Season enraptured, inspired, tearful and always with anticipation. If you hear her enough times, you get to know her speak. There is something she consistently says, “you are right where you are supposed to be.”
I think about my fellow adoptees when they talk about adoption being cultural genocide and at times demand for things to be undone, redone, obliterated. Me, and my Amercian dreams realized, sympathizes but it has become clearer for me that I am not where they are completely. That is not to say that I have not had my share of struggles, betrayals, withholdings and strife. I have much to be proud of overcoming, but I think I was never quite there. I cannot be there. I think I was born like this.
I am reminded of when I volunteered one year of my life in a Korean orphanage, my orphanage, the place I called home before coming to the States. There was a phrase the children would say often in reference to some theoretical question they were indulging me with to answer – ge nyang. My transliteration is terrible, but the dictionary translation was “as is.” It can be used when you are making plans and don’t really care where they go, when you don’t have a strong opinion about something and in this example, it was used to say “well, that’s life.” My first reaction was incredulity and slight indignation – what the hell does that mean? As is?! But in time, I SAW “as is” in action. It was resolute not surrender and peacefulness without being patronizing. These were the kids who were never going to be adopted or reunited with their birth families. Their status as second class citizens, as invisible, was permanent and yet there was no entitlement, regret or anger.
Over the years, as many of you have read, I have kept in touch with these kids who are now adults and have families they have created for their own. And still I find joy, fun, celebration and little complaint among them. They seek and they find in each other that which we as overseas adoptees often cannot. I wonder if there is a cultural abyss I am missing. I push them to tell me their thoughts and their answer is ge nyang Unnie/Noona (big sister) and I am politely shushed and a little embarrassed that there is no drama in the discussion.
So perhaps, if I truly believe I am right where I am supposed to be, this adoption thing was just a part of that. It was supposed to happen? Feeling a bit existential today. Ge nyang.