Adoption Survivor

dealing with it

remembering in korean

with 3 comments

funny how this small thing made me cry and feel joy at the same time.

i sent the following email to loved ones, as if i had graduated or something:  i guess i had.

i just had a memory from my childhood in korean.  how bizarre is that?
i remember saying this to my new parents.

i peu da

looked it up and found this:
yeh ppeu da


it means pretty

i think it must have been RIGHT AFTER I ARRIVED.  it’s very fuzzy, but i think it is real.  it was about the christmas tree…i kept saying it over and over again.

silly to flood your in-boxes with something so small, i know.  i was just excited to have the word come to me in korean out of nowhere.  i was watching a kdrama and the guy told the girl she was beautiful, and suddenly i peu da popped into my head!  and then the christmas ornaments.  i haven’t studied it.  i haven’t heard it.  i just KNEW it was a synonym.  so i looked up pretty and korean on google and the word was there! and then i typed pretty and beautiful in the free translation on-line, and sure enough, it was there…

now, if i could only remember two weeks earlier about my life at the orphanage…or nine months earlier when i was with my family…
i hope i have more of these, but i doubt it.

this is the first time I can recall where my first thought was a word in a foreign language, and not only that but inherently knowing what it meant.  i was about ten weeks shy of 3 years old when i arrived at my american home, which was four days before christmas.

he,he,he, i guess the forty hours I thought I’d wasted watching korean dramas wasn’t a waste afterall!


Relaying my joy over this reclaimed word on an adoption support board, one of the adoptees mentioned that my experience is not unlike Helen Keller’s.

from RNIB;  supporting blind and partially sighted people:

Then, after a month of Anne’s teaching, what the people of the time called a “miracle” occurred.

Helen had until now not yet fully understood the meaning of words. When Anne led her to the water pump on 5 April 1887, all that was about to change.

As Anne pumped the water over Helen’s hand , Anne spelled out the word water in the girl’s free hand. Something about this explained the meaning of words within Helen, and Anne could immediately see in her face that she finally understood.

Helen later recounted the incident:

“We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance of the honey-suckle with which it was covered. Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten, a thrill of returning thought, and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me.”

Assimilation has been like having my sight taken away.  But it appears those early connections live on and can never be obliterated once formed.

We adoptees are not blank slates.

Written by girl4708

December 7, 2008 at 3:27 am

Posted in Infinite Longing

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3 Responses

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  1. Wow.

    Just wow.


    December 7, 2008 at 8:02 pm

  2. Amazing, isn’t it? I wonder how many words in Korean I understood at two years old.

    My daughter could speak two thousand words at age two (yeah, she was a little precocious) so I’m sure she understood four times that many.

    Our brains are amazing things. I hope this isn’t the last memory that surfaces…

    Makes me wonder about all those feelings children can’t verbalize – like nurture and longing and sadness.

    It’s in there
    It doesn’t just go away


    December 7, 2008 at 8:32 pm

  3. This is a bit late but there is actually a Korean word called ipeuda, with the same meaning as 예쁘다. It’s great you remembered!


    April 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm

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