Adoption Survivor

dealing with it

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losing two moms

Just yesterday I was sending photos of old hairstyles to newer friends, and I came across this photo:

This is me, thirty pounds overweight and pregnant with my son.  (Yes, the glasses are huge – it was the eighties!)  And behind me is my mom.  See?  She had her moments.  She really liked babies, and here she is on a rare (only?) occasion with two grandchildren.

I’ve been wanting to write about her for a long time now, but was feeling too fragile.  But feeling strangely strong right now, I’m thinking about her and want to explore some of the complexity of what it is to hate adoption and love your mom and hate abuse and love your mom and to leave the mom you love yet continue loving her and to never reconcile and lose two moms.

That would describe a lot of adoptees, you know.  A lot of adoptees have to put distance between themselves and the people who acquired them, controlled them; molded them.  And in so doing, they lose a big part of who they are.  Again.  And for those who bonded with their foster moms, that’s three moms they lost.  And some lose even more…

For us adoptees, there is always that duality of nature vs. nurture to contend with.  My family was all musical, and despite years of piano lessons and band, I struggled with it.  My family were literal yet educated people who spoke proper English, in a plain manner, but never in a socially common manner.  And I:  I spoke in precise multi-syllabic words and, from as long as I could hold a pencil, preferred to communicate in images.  And we looked different.  So that was the nature half of the equation.

On the nurture half of the equation, I am very much my mother.  And this is because we spent sooooo many hours alone in each others’ presence, though we rarely interacted.  She, too, was a feral cat and I learned all my spooky ways from her.  And because half of me is her, I of course liked many things about her.  I liked how she hated PTA moms, Tupperware parties,  bridge games, cocktail parties, social gatherings, dressing up / being uncomfortable, family gatherings, etc.  Her critic of any obligations made perfect sense to me.  Her wanting to retreat and lose herself in fantasy made perfect sense to me.  Her not wanting to discuss feelings, her recoil at physical demonstration, her mistrust of others, her cynicism and unearthly composure also made sense to me.  She’d had a rough childhood she did not want to discuss or deal with.  She was contemptuous and repressed.  I got that.  On an essential level.  She was my role model.

And so, I just knew better that I was not going to get whatever the heck it was I needed from her.   It’s just the way it was, and I accepted that.  And in a strange way, our relationship had a lot more mutual respect to it than her relationship with my other siblings, her biological children, had, as they were deeply offended by her emotional absence.  She just wasn’t nurturing, and they all went a little out of their minds seeking that.

She did what she could.  She sang nursery rhymes to me because she once loved to sing.  She fed my insatiable appetite for preschool activity books.  Later, she taught me how to sew and knit.  She purchased art supplies.  She scrimped and saved and purchased me things I wanted.  And in return, I was to be quiet, not bug her and leave her in peace to escape and read about other people’s lives, fictional lives, lives of satisfaction unlike hers. In return for her sacrifices, out of gratitude, I was  to give her no grief and heaven forbid, have emotional needs.  My life of quiet desperation mirrored her life of quiet desperation, so how much weight did my private complaints have?

People hear about my abuse and they imagine all kinds of horrible things, or that my parents were monsters.  But life is not that black and white.  My parents did not look or sound or act like monsters.  In their minds they loved me, as much as they were capable.  In many ways, they loved me too much.  They did the best they could, with their lame and broken tools.

I think that in many ways my parents were just like almost every other adoptee family that exists:  there was a deficit in their lives and the hope was that I would fill it with joy.  They were unfulfilled, not fully formed or evolving people. And again, an awful lot of adopting couples are just that.  They are seeking something they think a child will provide.  I get a lot of grief from adoptive parents claiming they are not filling a need by adopting.  What are they adopting for then?  Charity?  And why are they expending energy on trying to convince others?

We have a big job to do, us adoptees.  Filling such big holes is not easy.  And some, heaven help them, have to fill the shoes of another child, the child that never lived.

It turns you into a tiny parent, because you recognize the insecurity and fragility of your parents, and it is your reason for being to care for them.  This is the reality: this is the realm in which you must call home.  You just have to be pragmatic when you’re an adoptee because you learn from the cradle that you have no choices.  It’s a poverty stricken love, but it’s the only love you’ve known.  And you can’t discount that.  Well.  You can.  But I can’t.

Incest survivors will take to task the survivor who holds onto an idealized version of their hostile mother, hostile in the sense that the child’s needs become secondary to their own and they refute their child’s victimization and view the child’s crisis as a threat to their own life, when what the child needs is protection.  I don’t believe I idealize my adoptive mother at all.  Nor do I disagree that her lack of protecting me was wrong.  But I/we can still love the only mother we’ve known. We being me and the child I monitored at CPS, for whom I winced in sympathy when witnessing the attitudes of social workers towards her mom who was labeled hostile, which was required in order to protect children from further harm…that little girl loved her mom, in spite of it all, and so did I.  This is the burden of a child of incest.  Now, compound that with the burden of a child who’s been adopted.

So how culpable was my mom, anyway?  Did she know what was going on?  Did she contribute to it in any way?  To which I ask – does it even matter?  Hadn’t the harm already been done?  Would her life having been further destroyed have improved my own at all?  Probably not.  Did she mother me when she found out too late?  No.  Would she have protected me had she found out in time?  Probably not.  Does that make her a monster?  Not at all.  It makes her a failure at nurture.  Her choice was denial, which was nothing new.  Her entire life was spent in denial.  Hell, I just spent forty years in denial.  No.  She was just human, and had to live with her failure.  So I don’t see the value in blame.   I wouldn’t want to be her.  That would be hell on earth.

Did she know?  Probably.  But without my verbal acknowledgment and confirmation, that could forever remain a suspicion, which meant she could continue to cope with her already unhappy life.  There were plenty of clues:  literally dirty laundry, times she caught me pleasuring(?) myself, increased friction between my father and myself, the conversation I’d overheard them have about pornography whose female subjects appeared under-age.  These did not go unnoticed by her, and they all went unaddressed and were buried.

I remember the day she did confront me about my change in attitude towards my father.  She demanded to know “Why are you so mean to your father?”  I think I was about eight at the time.  I knew this was code for:  the imbalance of your attitude is really damning, and I want you to stop making it apparent so I can keep on living my life.  What is a child supposed to say when confronted with a question/demand like that?  I knew nothing would come of it but all hell breaking loose.  And so I took care of it (and her) and told her I didn’t know what my problem was and would try to be better.  But I also knew that wasn’t sustainable, and the thought that crossed my mind at that moment was, “Damnit.  Did you have to go do that?  Now I’ll have to be nasty to you too.  (to maintain balance in this ruse of a life you require.)”  I didn’t want to be mean to her, too.  But that’s what I had to do if I was to be able to have any emotional outlet for my own survival – and hers.  It was on that day that I lost my second mother, and not nine years later when I left home for good.

I think it is often the adoptee’s role to tend their parent’s mental health.  It is our role to fulfill their needs, and tend their emotions.   While the physical needs we have require our parents’ oversight, our emotional needs we must always tend ourselves, because it’s not possible for our parents to comfort us, as they have no capital in that kind of trauma, and they are also our loving captors.  So we grow up really fast.  And we become nurturers at an early age.

So in a strange way, I was forced to be the parent.  And I see this a lot in other adoptees too.  It has nothing to do with being abused and everything to do with going to emotionally starving people, it just means our relationship went further off track than most.  I gave up hope of being her child, but continued to be her parent.  And I continued to care long after I was gone, despite being too paralyzed to pick up the phone.

I couldn’t verbalize it then, but I think I had stumbled upon the limitations of adoption that day.

Written by girl4708

March 29, 2012 at 7:35 am

Posted in Infinite Longing

Giving my mom a break

I think the one regret I have about the past few years of disclosure has been publicly discussing my adoptive mother.

Readers have pointed out to me that she was herself abusive for emotional neglect or for not defending me, and that I am wrong to cut her slack by not including her as an abuser.

I guess you’d have to live my very particular childhood to disagree.  The one thing I can say is that she treated me no different than my siblings.  She was equally distant from all of us.  She also sacrificed her own spending money on things for me, and included me in her will, and did every requisite mom thing all moms in the 60′s & 70′s were supposed to do.  I guess I’m saying she did her best.

When my daughter was due, she flew to Guam to be there for the delivery.  Many weeks later when the baby had still not arrived, she extended her stay.  On Christmas day, when we got to come home from the hospital, she started to weep.  When I asked her, “why are you crying?” she said she had never spent Christmas away from my father, and she missed him.  Despite him making her want to kill herself, despite being miserable and trapped and alone, despite him violating her daughter, she could not deal with being apart from him because her entire world was based around him.  How can a child ask a person who feels like that to choose?  This woman, who had never once lived independently and only worked for one year of her entire life, prior to marriage, how can a child ask her, after 30 years of marriage and three biological children, ask her to be a single mom for her adopted daughter?   The answer is you can’t.  The answer is I was not the only victim of my father’s infantile selfishness.  Nor was I the only captive.

So I’m sorry, mom. I understand.

And I know it’s wrong for me to have to become an adult early and protect her.  But you know what?  That’s just what had to be done.  It’s just another thing in a long line of wrong things that one just has to swallow and deal with.

These days I think the real crime is not the transgressions of humans, so much as not being given tools to deal with them.  And, unfortunately, when the perpetrators are parents, then there is already a poverty of tools to share.  If I had my life to do over again, I would wish for a humor gene.  Because life is really really fucked up and amusing.  And I would share that tool with my mom.  And I hope she is laughing in heaven.

Written by girl4708

March 29, 2012 at 2:46 am

Posted in Infinite Longing

White Dust

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There is no school today, as it’s a school holiday:  the founding of the school.  Despite having much to do, I am distracted.

In the absence of air-conditioning, the fan emits this low noise pollution, sucking in organic matter through the window and blowing it and formerly undetected fine white powder from the installation fabric across everything.  It clings to every surface and then to my half naked body which moves restlessly from place to place to place.  It’s pernicious, this grit.  How many cleanings will it take for it to disappear?

I try to make myself feel better:  I watch movies, I pick up and drop several projects, I go for a walk, I check out another health club, I look for activities to join, I remember I should eat, etc., but nothing engages me and I just make the circuit of my room over and over again.  I feel lost.

Jane’s writing from the TRACK blog grabs my attention:

Each misplaced, forgotten, thrown away, ripped-up, spilled-on, smeared, misstamped, lost and found again later tag still represents one child, one file. We keep finding stray tags now — one at a time, sets of them– unlabeled, unaccounted for. I found a stray tag today next to the door of my apartment, next to the garbage can and the shoes. “Where do you belong, little girl? How did you get here?”

I feel like that lost tag.  I am that lost tag.

I am out of place.  I am out of time.  Despite my best efforts, I am always orphaned and alone and abandoned.  Love is a privilege denied me.  The losses collect. The white dust is like the grief I can’t wash away.

I know it’s not finished and it’s badly edited, but I don’t know how much longer I can linger on this and stay healthy, so here is my unfinished video gift to Kim Sook Ja and all the other Korean adoptees out there in the world who, despite their best efforts, sing private songs of lamentation when they long to sing for joy:

I hope they have some company, wherever they ended up:  someone to take their part and soothe them.  This is the best I can do:  say I understand the loss and isolation you have felt/feel.

You are not alone.

Written by girl4708

July 16, 2010 at 8:20 am

Posted in Infinite Longing


with 2 comments

I was going to post about this exact same topic, but Harlow’s Monkey beat me to it.  Well said.

Written by girl4708

December 4, 2009 at 7:26 am

Posted in Infinite Longing

Adoption awareness month and Thanksgiving

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Today I’m a little homesick.  I miss my kids, my one true family.  We’re a little strange.  I haven’t even spoken on the phone to them the whole time I’ve been here, but that’s not something that’s ever been necessary with us.  We know we’re in each other’s thoughts.  And when we’re together, we don’t have to do anything special or even talk much:  just being present is enough.  There is no obligation, no negative history.  Only love.  It is enough for me.

My stay in Korea has been…incredibly difficult.  From the moment I got off the plane and the bus driver screamed at me in Korean for something to do with loading my luggage, because he didn’t understand that I didn’t understand Korean and thought I was being rude…It’s been an exceptional and incredibly draining nine months.

But still I want to love Korea.

This weekend I go to eat Thanksgiving with many other dispossessed ethnic Koreans of the adoption diaspora.  We’ll eat turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin pie.  All of us here, trying to love Korea.  All of us here, separated from our families, many of us estranged from our adoptive families.   Do I go there because I love to hang out with adoptees?  No.  I only know one or two of them and don’t care to know more.   In America, some gather together just to acclimate themselves to seeing other Asian faces and get to know them as real people.  It starts as fear-of-Asians phobia therapy and then evolves into a sanctuary.  But here, that’s not necessary, as there are Asian faces in spades.   No.  I don’t have to speak to even one of them.  It just comforts me to see so many gathered in one place who KNOW. That’s all I need.  Not community, because I’m too traumatized by something so claustrophobic and distrusting of people in general;  not even solidarity, because not all adoptees agree or are in the same place in this journey.  No.  I go for the adoption awareness.

This month is adoption awareness month.  It is a time when those promoting adoption gather their collective voices to extol its virtues, increase its numbers, and lobby for its ease.

But to me, adoption awareness is the knowing of what it feels like to be adopted.  It is that unspoken thing we all share, whether we are “happy” adoptees or “angry” adoptees, we who have returned are not here for naught.  That thing we share, is a loss nobody should ever know, that those who were not abandoned or relinquished will never know,  but that binds us, like it or not, (for me mostly not) together.

Over three decades ago, America was riveted to their television sets watching the dramatization of Alex Haley’s Roots. It was not just an exploration of where he came from, but also how he came to be here.    And to my wonder, it seemed as if the entire nation finally learned to respect African American brotherhood, and to understand that being displaced against one’s will should rightly unite them on the deepest level.

However, in this adoption awareness month, there is no popular respect for our “pilgrimages,” because we appear ungrateful for our displacement against our will. We reject the notion that our loss should be something we should also be grateful about.  We are united on this deepest level.  That is why we’re all here.  My silence during adoptee functions just goes hand in hand with this understanding.  I don’t have to speak to the other returnee adoptees to know that I love them and they me.  We just know.  That’s enough for me.

And so in silence I will gather with my fellow returnee adoptees.  I go there for the ritual of thanksgiving, the pale substitute for the Korean Cheusok thanksgiving that venerates our first families, and their families, and their families before their families.  I go there for a small taste of the only ritual feast I’ve ever known, the feast of my adoptive family’s culture, in commemoration of the voluntary displacement of their ancestors.  I go here to say, “please pass the stuffing” and know others will understand what “pass” means and what “stuffing” is.  I go for the saving grace of cranberry sauce.  I go there to give thanks.  For the little comforts we have.

And I will thank my mother for the Stove top stuffing, the Durkees freeze-dried onion green been casserole, and the Cool Whip covered Eagles’ brand pumpkin pie.   And I will still wish I had never been adopted.

Written by girl4708

November 23, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Posted in Infinite Longing

house of denial

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Reading the following Traits of Families that Tolerate Incest and Child Abuse got me to thinking, and so I wanted to respond to each of the points they made so maybe you could see what an incest abuse house might look like:

Sexual child abuse is just one of a number of abuses taking place in an incest family. There may also be a history of family violence, substance abuse, and other criminal activity.

This wasn’t the case in my family, at least not that I know of.   My family was all about self-control to probably an abnormal degree.  Interviewing my father in later years I found out that his sister and father went to Florida together for a week, and that she came back, “different.”  I am sure there is more to the story, and I wonder to what extent it affected the rest of my father’s family, as there were five brothers and my aunt was the only girl.

My father blames his abuse on drinking.  However, he was not an alcoholic, and he was not drunk when the abuse began.  Later, these incidents coincided because the only time he could have an excuse for not being in my mother’s bed was when he was playing his bass on a gig, and drinks were provided to the musicians gratis.

Duplicity, deceit, collective secrets
The incest family hides its embarrassing secrets.

Incest is so taboo it doesn’t come up in any conversation, so it’s a level of secrecy too secret to even acknowledge to oneself. However, There weren’t collective secrets in my house.  I think it was more a sign of the times with their generation that would not air any dirty laundry out in public.  Or even to family members.  We didn’t have collective secrets but kept secrets from each other.

Rigid and tightly controlled
Incest families have rigid rules to prevent revelation of their secrets.

My family was extremely tightly controlled.  Mostly this was my mom’s doing.  If she was silently seething about something, you could tell because she would have micro-perceptible tics, and you breathed a little quieter and walked silently and made to sure to be ultra sensitive and stay clear of trouble.  The problem was that this was not a rare occasion.  She was like a hawk, and one sidelong glance was all it took.  It was like living in a library with the most vigilant librarian imaginable on duty, the one who hated her life and hated people.  So there was always this psychological tension in the air that you didn’t want to trip up.

Together, probably due to my mother’s influence, our family had strict rules about the activity and behavior of children.  It was a strange hybrid of progressive liberalism from my father and repressed Victorianism from my mother.  We were to be seen and not heard, but when we were asked to speak, it should be something progressive and liberal coming out of our mouths.

I was kept on an extremely short leash:  one time at 12 years old I went to the neighbors to borrow something, was gone for ten minutes, and my mother totally freaked out because I had been missing when she called on me.  When a woman with tics who rarely speaks freaks out, it’s twice as scary as when someone just gets angry.  I still shudder thinking about it.

You know how you go to visit some establishments as a child and you are made to understand that there are strict rules for decorum?  You keep your knees together.  You make sure your skirt covers your bottom when you sit.  You cross your ankles together under your chair.  You don’t bounce your legs or tap your toes.  You sit upright.  You don’t put your elbows on the tables, etc., etc.  Well, that’s how I felt in my house every day.  A billion unspoken rules, any violation of which would raise an eyebrow, or cause the corner of the mouth to twitch, or worse some silent muttering.  I wanted to please so badly, and every little sign of disapproval was pointed and severe.  Yes.  I was tightly and masterfully controlled.

Demand for blind, absolute loyalty
Incest families usually have a domineering head of household who rules the family through force.

Force?  or fear of madness?  My mother ran the household, because it was her realm – a booby prize of control because she had no life of her own.  Everything about her was about control:  controlling her emotions and making sure everyone else controlled theirs as well.  There was no force, except the police state of her stare.  That stare can not be underestimated, and I lived in constant silent fear of upsetting her precarious balance.

Poor boundaries
Disrespect for each others’ privacy, rights, and individuality is common in incest families.

Again, my family liked to think of themselves as progressive liberals.  Bathrooms were not private.  We only had one, and toilet use trumped shower use.  So in a household of six, this meant a lot of exposure.  Too soon, however, we were a household of three.  Nakedness or modesty was not respected, because both my parents were freely naked in front of us, ostensibly to prove in their liberal self-image that bodies were beautiful and nothing to be ashamed of.  So I saw much more than I wanted to see.  And I couldn’t, in defense, ask for privacy, because it was off the table as an issue.

My father’s hip liberal attitude included family baths – and my mother participated probably only because he urged her to.  The bath is where my abuse started.  Family baths that my mother opted out of, to have more time to herself.

Parents immature and inexperienced in life
Parents of incest families usually never become fully mature adults.

While my parents were both very responsible and upstanding citizens, I would have to characterize them both as being very immature.  They didn’t take action to improve themselves or gain more understanding.  Their actions were self-absorbed like those of children.  They did not learn from situations.  My father was a whiner, a pouter.  My mother avoided situations.  These were not emotionally evolving people in any sense of the word.

Conflictual marriage or troubled divorce
In incest families, this may refer to situations where children are pushed into the drama between a conflicted mother and father.

The hallmark of my parents’ relationship was no communication.  They did not speak of issues in front of us children, ever, and would go behind closed doors to literally whisper their disagreements.  Again, the environment was tightly controlled, especially emotions.  Afterward, it was clear that nothing had been resolved and a wall of silence was what we were taught by example, as how to deal with relationships.

My father used me for validation when my mother wasn’t around.  He would try to get me to sympathize with him.  Later, he would use me as a confident and tell me their relationship problems.  Still later, he told me he turned to me because  my mom was “cold” to him in bed.

My mother was perpetually miserable in crush on someone else.  For some reason my siblings were unaware of this, but I could see it/feel it.  And later confessionals with my parents confirmed this.

What we had here were two people dependent upon each other in a maternal/paternal way, but who both felt trapped.

No childhood for the children
Incest families are somber and strict places, where the authority figure (usually one of the parents) dictates behavior for everyone else. Rather than let children run around and play, they force children into a regimented routine.

The sound of children playing was like nails on chalkboard to my mother.  She liked babies.  But didn’t really care for children.  She wanted to read and fantasize and escape, and me making any noise at all would destroy her perpetual search for reverie.   She also shut down joking amongst my father and brothers, and any time my father was happy or whistling or in a good mood, she shut that down too.  It’s as if her unquiet suffering mind required all her focus and concentration, and any disruption which brought ugly reality into that effort was frowned upon.

Chaotic situations, traumatic stress
Incest often takes place in chaotic households, with unstable roots. These families may move often and lack connections to any one community.

Or, these families carefully craft a place in community, superficially always present, yet not really engaged with any of it.  My parents really had no friends, despite attending church gatherings for fellowship.

Low level of appropriate touch
In the most toxic incest families all touching is considered taboo. Parents do not hug, caress, or cuddle their children, as normal families do. This is perhaps the most telling symptom of incest.


I can remember being asked for a kiss at times – you know, the kind of staged pucker-up type of full-on kisses.  But there were no random kisses to the head, no caresses, no holding hands except in dangerous traffic situations, no bear hugs. In short, no physical affection of any kind.  Occasionally I would see my mom smiling or amused over something.  But affection to her was buying me a soda or an educational workbook and watching me enjoy it.  But touch?  nope.  nothing.  One story my mother repeated several times was of breaking a hair brush over my sister’s head because she squirmed while she was fixing her hair.  I sat very still as a result.

My father, on the other hand, loved to wash my hands and clip my nails.  It was these small opportunities for skin contact, in an environment where there was no touching allowed, which fed him in some dark way, and which was a precursor for his uncontrollable desire to molest me.

Compensating veneer of religiosity
Incest perpetrators often hide behind an external show of religion.

Church was my family’s only social life.  Religion is great.  It provides the facade of community and bolsters their place in society.  It convinces them that they aren’t really the anti-social misfits they really are.

What was my home environment like?

Well, I can tell you that at first glance it looked like anybody else’s house.  Except that it was eerily quiet.  It was heavy, like kryptonite.  But of course that would change if anybody came over:  then my home became a mirror of whoever came to visit’s personality.

What facilitated my abuse?

In retrospect, it was my mother.  Not on purpose.  But everything she did set up that heavy environment.  Except for the t.v., which was my babysitter, no noise was tolerated.  Where was she during my bath time?  Where were my siblings?  Why did everyone allow my father to read me bedtime stories every night by himself?  Why did we do nothing together as a family?

And that one day when the social worker came to visit, (I vaguely remember my mom cleaning house for the social worker’s visit and how perfect she was that day) how could they be so clueless?  Did they even bother to look closely?  Did they see us play and interact?  (of course not – there was no play) Did they look at our photo albums and see any candid fun shots?  (of course not – there were no candid fun moments)  Did they do anything besides have some coffee and ask my parents how I was doing? Of course not.

So actually, EVERYONE facilitated my abuse.  The entire family was so lost in their own misery nobody thought about me or that I was a child or what I needed as a child.  And the social worker was just there to rubber stamp everything.

Gack, I should have gone into social work.  This is just so distressing to think someone could have caught this.   I know I could walk into such a home, sniff, and say, “something’s not right.”

Written by girl4708

November 10, 2009 at 8:01 am

Posted in Infinite Longing

Screening for Woody Allen

with 39 comments

Today I’ve got no insights, revelations, or provocations. Today I am merely asking questions. The question I mainly want to ask is: How do we screen out Woody Allen? There are a few of us molested Korean adoptees who have come out of the shadows to speak about the traumatic consequences of latent yellow fever combined with the ability to adopt yellow.

Do these men KNOW they have yellow fever when they adopt? Is that why they choose Asian countries to adopt from?

Are these men pedophiles before they adopt?

What is it about these men that allows them to cross personal boundaries, morals, and ethics?

How is it these men are so infantile and self-absorbed they ultimately can not control their urges?


My similarly abused Korean adoptee friends and I all share the above question. In addition to the exclusive attention, I was also treated differently in many other ways than my non-adopted siblings were:

As confidant – about relationship matters between my father and mother. (I was a child, for God’s sake – who didn’t need to know that information)

As a special prize – The man actually referred to me as his little concubine…(I can’t tell you how gross that feels)

As an equal (yet fictional) participant – and this is where it gets weird – most of us were not raped and most of us our abuse ended after puberty. But let me tell you – physical pain is nothing compared to having our minds twisted inside out, and molestation or rape or both – it’s still all about control. And the thing about incest is that it’s a captive audience, and in the adoptee’s case, a captured audience. In a private hell that lasts sometimes over a decade, from which the only escape is actual physical escape. And who’s entire family dynamics are permanently scarred long after the abuse ends.  Because incest is chronic.  Our fathers rationalized they were above rapists because they loved us. Not only did they have to relieve themselves, but they also wanted us to love it. And them. In a super natural way. It was some sick ego masturbation going on. And the greater the challenge or convoluted nature of it all, the more illicit and rewarding for them.

In their socially retarded fantasy world, what they were really hoping for was what Woody Allan got: a child bride. Not just any child bride. An ASIAN child bride. Because of the mystique of Asian women. Because we were so docile. (because we were scared shitless because we had to adjust to a new and foreign life. I am not making this up, that is how I felt but if you’d asked me at the time I would have told you how thankful I was to be adopted) Because they thought of us as if we were little geisha. This is my theory. I can only venture to guess, but they are educated guesses because I LIVED with the man fourteen+ years.

Did my father intentionally adopt me to molest me? Of course not.

Did my father think Asian women were alluring? The idea probably fascinated him.

Was my father sexually attracted to other children? Maybe.  Probably.

But did he cross the line with anyone else? No. Just the Asian adopted daughter. Because the adopted Asian daughter is both exotic, vulnerable and, most importantly, accessible.

And that social taboo against incest? Not quite so strong when the child is not your blood…

Did Woody Allen date Mia Farrow because she had adopted daughters, one of them Asian? Maybe…their presence certainly made Mia more interesting. Maybe they were more interesting than Mia. Maybe they became an obsession. Woody was lucky, (from my father’s perspective) in that he didn’t have complete and total access to Mia’s children and that he was ‘t technically married to Mia, so he was free to turn the fantasy into reality.

Think about it, and it’s a recipe for disaster:

Take one relationship frustrated, sexually frustrated, sensitive, self-absorbed immature man

Give him close proximity and access to his fantasy and curiosity about the exotic

Now make the fantasy helpless and under his care, so that his love for his adorable charge grows each day

Let the relationship grow over time until the child trusts and loves him.

The acceptance is confusing and feeds the man’s longings for love, exciting the man

All of these things are hidden from the naked eye, from paperwork, from the itemized lists of social workers. All of the quantifiable qualities of an adoptive parent, these men PASSED WITH FLYING COLORS.

For the love of God, why can’t anyone BE A JUDGE OF CHARACTER when it comes to the safety of children?

How can we leave the adoptive parent’s judges of character to be self selected?

Why do we have to be objective when screening parents?

Isn’t subjectivity and gut instinct valuable in this instance?

How many children could I save alone if I were allowed to be a diviner or barometer?

The answer? Many.

You don’t find these men by looking at their bank account or their social activities or their job stability or their church affiliation or who will vouch for them. You won’t find these men with a short interview and handshake – they appear affable, magnanimous, and personable. Hell – any psychopath can trick almost anyone into thinking they are someone that cares, that you want to trust. (not that these men are psychopaths – they are a different creature entirely) No. You find these men by learning about their world view – which will almost always be essentially self-absorbed. And their mannerisms – which will be pouting or petulant, or delicate. And their rationalizations, obsessions and neurosis – which will come out through extensive interview about ethical and timely topics. (see amendment *** below) And their cowardice. And the way in which they look adoringly at an Asian child: I’m sure there is a scientifically measurable difference in their physical response.

There is a sixth sense we abuse victims have – the hair that rises on the back of your neck, the sick feeling in your stomach, the understanding when you see a child old beyond their years hand in hand with a protective yet charismatic father. I do hope someone can do some scholarly work and profile these men: interview fathers convicted of incest, convicted pedophiles, men in rehab programs. There are commonalities, I am sure of it. There must be predictors that can be used to rule out these adoption candidates. At present, the only thing I and my other sisters in abuse have found is in this article:

“Incest is more likely to occur in a family where at least one parent is a stepparent, said Alan Davis, head of the National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence, and it shows up far more often in homes where both parents are not the natural parents.”

I also once tried to compare the rates of incest in biological families as compared to adopted families, but found that the data only indicated whether or not the families were natural or not natural, and that each state defined non-traditional families differently, so there was no way to filter the studies for adoption, as it wasn’t included as a variable in many of the studies. But if incest is more likely to occur in a family where BOTH parents are NOT biological, then doesn’t it follow that it is more likely to occur in an adoptive family as well? And to us sexually abused Asian adoptees, given the deeply ingrained proclivity to infanticize and sexualize Asian females in our culture, then it seems like a no brainer that we are especially at risk.

Please, somebody, please look into this – Not only collect data on past cases, but come up with a psychological profile of the adopting incest perpetrator. Because even one Woody Allen that slips through the present “screening” process is one too many.

Oh – and I wanted to correct that, on second thought,  interviewing these men about ethics and topical issues wasn’t really best, because they know what the socially accepted answers are.  More revealing would be talking about relationships.  These men never take responsibility for their part in relationships – they are always the victim.  Their roles are often frustrated and they feel dis-empowered.  They seek out young friends/lovers that are weaker than themselves, because their lack of control over their own lives makes them feel impotent in some way.  Innocence turns them on.  It is my belief that the man who turns to his own children is often very weak in the social pecking order of male supremacy.

In addition, it is not just the infantalization and sexualization of Asian females, but also the feminization of Asian boys…who are also incest victims.

I also wanted to add that, off the record, a worker at an organization to help Korean adoptees in search of their birth families estimated that it was their experience that approximately 50% of the adoptees they had encountered had suffered abuse at the hands of their adoptive parents.  These personal anecdotes were not something initially revealed or revealed on paper. There have been 76,646 adoptees who have returned to search for their families.  Given those figures, the unofficial count of abused adoptees could be staggering.

Written by girl4708

October 19, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Who Am I? The Mystery of #4709

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Despite a few places where there’s been a heavy hand on my story…I just really really really appreciate all SBS has done for my case, and for exposing some of the serious problems regarding the control of records.  They were amazing to me, did an amazing amount of research, and truly investigated what the central issues are concerning adoption law and conflict of interests.

Those core issues are:

* The adoption agencies are the ONLY ones who have access to adoption records – this excludes even the government.
* Nobody but the government has any power to monitor adoption agency activities.  Their power is limited and they don’t exercise it.
* KCARE, the new central organization created to assist with identity retrieval, is a private organization with no governmental power, relying only on adoption agency cooperation.  KCARE has no original documents and no access to them.
* Even today, children with living parents’ identities and social histories are fabricated in order to make them available for adoption.  Their original identities are never recorded with the government, and only the adoption agencies hold this information.
* Adoption agencies know their presence replaces social services and feel entitled to funding from the government.  (but they don’t want government oversight or government access to documents)

Given the above issues, is it any wonder so many adoptees and first parents are unsuccessful finding the truth?

From the bottom of my heart, for me and for ALL ADOPTEES who only seek the most basic information about their identity,  which should be every person’s unalienable civil right, I thank SBS’s We Want to Know That director, Kim Ji Eun, and all of her tireless dedicated staff.

Thank you also to TRACK, who brave many slings and arrows asking Korea – and the world – to stop looking away.  Only through recognition of the ugly truth and reconciliation through correction, of the causes and mechanisms of its creation, can Korea begin to replace their shame with pride.

Here are my video comments and updates on the documentary:

Written by girl4708

August 8, 2009 at 1:06 am

Posted in Infinite Longing

So what if I was…

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Scene 1:

My father comes into the house, whistling.  His face is beaming and with a hop in his step, he rushes up to me and announces it’s a glorious day for a motorcycle ride, do I want to go?

My mom is concerned and swears that he’d better drive extra cautious, like this time will be diferent.

My father gets the helmets.  Nobody really asked me if I wanted to go, not really.  I really hate going, because I know the only reason he wants me to go is because my little arms will have to  hold onto him, and that gives him a thrill.  A thrill right out in broad daylight, in public, and no one will know.  He yells through the wind to hold on tighter, and I guess I must comply, because despite it being beautiful and freeing on a bike,  it’s pretty scarey being on Hines Drive with it’s curves and all the unpredictable drunken people partying along its edges.  My long hair is a tangled mess.  Taking the helmet off always rips a handful out.

We get home, and he knows I know what his motivation is.

Daddy, I say, looking straight into his eyes, can we go see Annie?  I really want to see Little Orphan Annie in Detroit.

Well, it’s really expensive honey, but we’ll-see-what-we-can-do.

Yeah, that’s right.  You better…or no more motorcycle rides.

Scene 2:

My bedroom.

I just-can’t-take-it-anymore.

I don’t know what it is I can’t take, but I have to leave.  I don’t even remember what the upset was, but I have to go.  I have barracaded my door with my bed and my dresser, and my toychest is under the bedroom window, which I have opened and am trying desperately to climb out of.  If I could only grab hold of the lilac bush…

But the dresser and bed are sliding and the door to my bedroom is opening, and just like the door always opens when I don’t want it to, there I am again, dreading what’s next, helpless.   My dad pushes the furniture aside and my mom follows him in and asks me what I am crying about, and I sob because of course I don’t know and I can’t tell her.

I can’t tell her what it is to be manipulated and to manipulate at the age when you should be playing with dolls.  I can’t tell her how it feels to be a living doll.  I can’t tell her I’m afraid of everything and everybody and mostly of breaking her world apart.  I can’t tell her I’m the other woman.  I can’t tell her what it’s like to be an alien in this world.  I can’t tell her because she is color blind and relationship blind and so sad about her life.

My dad moves the furniture back as if nothing happened.  My mom tells me that after I’ve washed my face, dinner will be ready.

Scene 3:

On the street corner, in front of my house.

New neighbor and her daughter come over to introduce themselves to my mom.  I am what, ten years old? yet she gushes over me as if I were four years old.  She starts stroking my hair.  It’s so soft and silky and long and black.  She talks slowly to me, to make sure I understand her words amid her squealing with delight.  She just loves almond shaped eyes.  She just always wished she had almond shaped eyes.  I am stiff. I don’t say much in response.  Her daughter Cara is bubbly and vivacious.  She says, “yes, m’am!” like Opie does on the Andy Griffith Show, like she really enjoys sucking up.  My mother is in love.  I don’t say, “yes, m’am!”

My mom gives her a polished tumbled amethyst rock.  Funny, she never gave ME one of her tumbled rocks.  She chastises me, “Why do you have to be like that?  Why can’t you be more like Cara?”  Cara looks like Annie Wharbucks.  I look like I-don’t-know-what.  No, wait.  I look like the Chinese sex bomb in Flower Drum Song.  How the hell can I say, “yes, m’am!” cheerfully?

Scene 4:

So I’m sitting at the park, near the baseball dugout, the one closest to my church, sneaking a cigarette, and my friend asks me about my birth mother.

“Do you think she was a prostitute or something?”  (I can hear the hope in her voice – they all wished I was the illegitimate daughter of a lady of the night)

I shrug.  “I dunno.”

“Do you ever want to meet her?”

“NO.  Why would I want to do that?”  I frown.  “Families suck.  Why would I want a second one?”

(incredulous) “But aren’t you even curious?”

“So what if I was, WHICH I’M NOT.  We couldn’t talk anyway.  Whoever the hell she is, she’s in KOREA.  Like I know how to talk that!  (I didn’t even know what it sounded like)

(silence…)  “Oh.  I forgot about that.”  (long pause)  “Wow.”  (romantic jealousy emanates from my friend)

Scene 5:

Same dugout, different time.

I’m making out with a boy, also from my church.  It dawns on me that we are having the same conversation as Scene 4, only we’re not speaking the words.  I suddenly feel like I am my mother.  Why do I feel so dirty?

I finally realize it’s not really me he wants to be with, but the idea of my mother.

Scene 6:

Small house party, Seattle.  It’s the post grunge, emo era and Michael’s slightly talented artistic friend is playing Dinosaur Jr. adnauseum.  His rich Korean American girlfriend walks in.  She’s slender and perfect and should be a model for L’eggs pantyhose. She name-drops designers, while proudly wearing her alternative long-haired white boyfriend like a street smart badge of honor.  She has it all.  A broken nail is suffering for her.

Later, Michael off-handedly mentions to me how gorgeous she is.  “What about me?”  I jest.

“Oh, yeah.  You’re made from good Korean peasant stock.”

Of course I am.

I’m just an orphan, probably daughter of a whore.


Somehow, my first mom doesn’t seem quite so vile now.

I’m sure she is/was a good person.

And being made from peasant stock is just fine, thank you.

Can I meet you, please?

Written by girl4708

June 22, 2009 at 8:28 pm

Posted in Infinite Longing

Loving My Captor

A while back, just prior to being banned from an adoption abuse website for daring to confront a particularly Virulent Adoptive Parent who disrespected the website, I had brought up the topic of Stockholm Syndrome. The VAP took great offense to this.

According to the above wikipedia link:

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in abducted hostages, in which the hostage shows signs of loyalty to the hostage-taker…

I was comparing the act of adoption to the act of abduction, as the editors of Transracial Abductees had done previously, only adding my own spin on the relationships that form with our adoptive parents.

Also, cited in the wikipedia entry:

According to the psychoanalytic view of the syndrome, the tendency might well be the result of employing the strategy evolved by newborn babies to form an emotional attachment to the nearest powerful adult in order to maximize the probability that this adult will enable — at the very least — the survival of the child, if not also prove to be a good parental figure. This syndrome is considered a prime example for the defense mechanism of identification

The VAP didn’t like this at all.  He didn’t want to recognize that his transracial internationally adopted children didn’t come to America of their own free will.  He didn’t want to recognize that they had no recourse but to get along with these benevolent people providing so much attention and basic needs, because they were totally dependent upon them.  He didn’t want to recognize his power in that situation or the child’s helplessness.

Okay – so adoption’s intent is not to abuse or exploit in most cases.  But isn’t adoption a benevolent form of abduction?  Isn’t taking someone anyplace against their will abduction?  And in the case of adoption, isn’t Stockholm Syndrome what adoptive parents are hoping for?

I bring this all up again due to a really amazing conversation I had with my daughter last week, as she asked about my relationship to my mother, and my siblings (her biological children) relationship with her.

I described my older sister feeling hurt that my mother did not communicate, and my oldest brother feeling resentment for being ignored by her, and my next older brother getting angry because we sometimes had cereal for dinner instead of the kind of meals he expected of a housewife to earn her keep.  I described my sadness for her, for having such self-centered children, for the tedium of her days, for her frustrated fantasy life, her sense of worthlessness, and her unsatisfying roles and the lack of respect she received.  I sensed her loneliness and hopelessness.  I wanted to make everything better for her, but could do nothing but watch her retreat into herself.

My daughter, amazed, wondered how it was that I, the adopted daughter, the transracial international foreign born daughter, was the only one who seemed to have empathy for this woman.

I thought about empathy.  I thought about how helpless people can relate to helpless people.  I think I recognized my situation, though perpetrated by her, as a reflection of her own situation…

Enter Stockholm Syndrome.

Witness Natacha Kampusch, the Austrian girl who was abducted and held captive for eight years in a basement, by a socially inept man named Wolfgang Priklopil.

Kampusch has sympathized with her captor.  She said “I feel more and more sorry for him – he’s a poor soul”, in spite of having been held captive for eight years by him, and according to police she lit a candle for him at the morgue.

Ms. Kampusch was labeled as having Stockholm Syndrome, which she denied.  Later, Austrians were shocked when it was revealed that she carried a photograph of Priklopil’s coffin in her wallet.

For me, that was not shocking at all.  Eight years she lived under that man.  Not only did he tear her away from her less than ideal family, occassionally beat her, deprive her of liberty, and probably molest her, but he also showed her tenderness, brought her gifts, and tried to make her captivity more comfortable.  She was the most important human being in his life.  And everything she could hope for had to be through him.  Eight years you get to know someone really well.  You start to understand what makes them tick, what brought them to such desperate acts.  You begin to feel for them.  They become dear to you.

Yes, I am projecting here.  This is my adoptive mother I feel for.  And I weep when I think of the desperation that brought my adoption into being.  And I weep when I read of her letters to Holt, and how important my capture was to her.  And I weep when I think of all those years seeing that it didn’t fix anything for her.  And to my mind, I am a victim of Stockholm Syndrome.  And I am okay with that.  Just like Natasha’s treasured photo of a coffin, we can’t condemn her or tell her that her feelings for him, whatever they were, weren’t real.  My adoption was bad, a crime really.  My relationship with my parents strained.  But more than anyone, I saw her for what she was.  I think I was the only one who really knew her.

I hate that I was captured.  I hate adoption.  This is no way to start a relationship.

But I loved my captor.   We’re all we had.

Written by girl4708

January 13, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Posted in Infinite Longing

the ache of separation

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Perhaps the most haunting, heart rending song about loss ever written:

Dearly Departed by Devotchka



How I miss your heart

Beating next to mine


The right words

Were always hard to find

When all our times was fine

When darling you were mine, all mine


And I know,

I know you had no choice

But how I miss your voice

Singing right with mine


Flesh of my flesh

Soul of my soul

Come back home


All this darkness,

cannot hurt us

Cause they made you from the light


Here on purpose,

don’t be nervous

We will make it through, this night



How I miss your heart

Beating next to mine


Flesh of my flesh

Soul of my soul

Come back home

Written by girl4708

December 8, 2008 at 12:26 am

Posted in Infinite Longing

remembering in korean

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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

Tagged with

update on letter to girl4709

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On a cold March day in 1966, two little girls began a journey which would change their lives forever.  That day was the day they were transferred to an orphanage to begin their life as orphans, to be adopted and sent away to foreign lands with foreign people.

You and I were together that day.  You and I were together the next four days and possibly the next nine months.  Were we together prior to that day?  Only meeting can rule out the remote possibility of relations undocumented.

You are the only living person I know who has anything to do with my past and I would at the very least like to contact you, however you feel comfortable.  We are sisters in solidarity, and I would be interested in hearing how you’ve fared in life.

fondest regards,



My earliest document atypically referred to two people at one time:

  • two little girls
  • both the same age
  • both given “provisional” names
  • both abandoned on the same day
  • both sent onward together
  • both sent to Holt and given consecutive Holt orphan numbers

My struggles to obtain this document, and the struggles to be allowed to passively contact this girl, whom Holt had identifying information for, was herculean.  Finally, they relented.


Never letting up reminding/prodding Holt to not let up and asking for updates as to the search for girl4709, Holt called and said they have located her.  It is now up to her.

If this is true (or just a ploy to get me to stop harassing them) then I feel sorry for girl 4709.  But then again, it was not I that orphaned her nor I that sent her to foreign lands and foreign people for adoption, so I hope she harbors no resentment towards me for upsetting whatever calm she has in her life.  Hopefully, like me, the knowing of the truth has more value than some temporary emotional turbulance.

I recall how I felt the morning my Korean speaking friend gave me a rough translation of my earliest document from Wonju city hall.  At first I was just numb.  A kind of “well don’t that beat all” kind of disbelief, which lingered throughout the day.  It kind of felt like the feelings I had harbored about adoption in general all my life – pushing it aside as a non-issue in hopes its nagging implications would just go away – only it was like times ten.  And then I was driving on the long commute home when it hit me.

When I first asked for my adoption records, my daughter asked me if I would search for my birth mother.  I had no interest in upsetting the life she had established and I told her no.  When my daughter mentioned that I might have siblings as well, I told her I hadn’t thought about it before, but probably I wouldn’t bother.  I was shocked that I had NEVER EVEN CONSIDERED this as a possibility.  (In retrospect, I can’t believe I had never entertained this possibility – but it is true.  The depths of my own denial and self preservation amaze me)

On the long commute home, I recalled my daughter bringing up siblings and my cool reaction.  And then I thought about the other girl from Wonju.  And what if’d.  What if she was my sister?  What is we were even twins?  What if I was not only separated from my parents due to poor economics (the most likely scenario, since I was already two years old) but also separated from my sister?  from my twin???  Can I even begin to imagine what kind of pain that would have caused a parent?  Can I even begin to imagine what the severing of twin bonds can do to a person?  Possibly myself?  What if my almost hostile attitude about birth family search has always been so negative because maybe my loss was too great to deal with?  It was not just a loss of an incubator.  It was the loss of someone who cared for me well (I was a fat, secure, well-adjusted child upon arriving for adoption) and thus presumably well loved.  The loss of a sibling on top of that was unimaginable. The loss of a twin on top of that was unfathomable.

I started to sob in the car.  Full body racking sobs.  I couldn’t tell the difference between the rain outside and the rain inside.  I could barely drive home.  Whereupon I stayed immobilized in the car for an hour, sobbing.  Sobbing like I’d never sobbed in my entire life.  Primal sobbing.

What had adoption done to me?  How could it take over forty years for me to finally acknowledge and cry about my loss?  I still can’t wrap my head around the profound consequences of the redistribution of children.   It puts an end to my words and makes me silent.

And so I wait to hear from girl4709.  I wait for her to catch up.  To have her primal cry in her car.  To have that healing cry.

We might not be/probably aren’t sisters.  But there is that small possibility we are, so that possibility must be exhausted.  And either way, that jolt to my adoption psyche helped me realize how essential the fundamental facts of our origins are, how important their meaning is.  Whether it is girl 4709 or not, while there is still time to piece together this picture, I must at least try.

I am glad my sleep got disturbed.  I am glad to be awake.

I hope girl4709 will one day feel the same way.

Written by girl4708

December 5, 2008 at 1:53 pm

Posted in Infinite Longing


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link to Resistance post from my other project, holtsurvivor

Written by girl4708

November 30, 2008 at 10:03 pm

Posted in Infinite Longing

letter to my first love

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Dear Pat,

This is Suki.

I always felt so sad about how things turned out and I wanted to explain to you.

You didn’t know and nobody knew that my father had molested me my whole childhood.  That is why I was confused and active too early.

When I met you, that was the only thing I thought any males were interested in me for.  I never had anyone just like me for me before you came along.  I didn’t know anything about relationships.  I didn’t even have any friends because you can’t really confide in anyone when you are a victim of incest, so you isolate yourself.  I had to keep quiet so my mom’s world did not fall apart.

I was so impressed that you respected me and wanted to wait.  I was so impressed that you loved children and your family.  I didn’t even know families could be like that – so real and genuine.  I was afraid of losing you and I guess I did everything wrong because for some reason you felt pressured by me to put your values aside.  I really truly didn’t want to rush you. I just didn’t know how to go slow.  I really truly didn’t want or need that.  I just needed love and was relieved to not be pressured to have sex.  I just wanted to hold hands and dream about a future.

That was why it was so sad that you did not believe me.  It truly didn’t matter to me.  You were so worthy.  Much more worthy than all the other guys who just wanted to get into my pants.  I wanted to tell you about my life, but I couldn’t even talk to myself about it at that point.  But knowing I knew about things outside of your convictions just became too huge a dilemma for you.  After we broke up, I just went kind of numb because I felt like I would never have anyone just love me for me.  I pretended it didn’t matter, and I went back to all I knew.

Despite all the time that had passed, when you returned to knock on my door I was so happy to see you, and then I realized you only wanted to prove something to yourself.  I think I understand how hard it was to be a young man with a value system in a crazy world where nobody felt it was important, and how you felt you just couldn’t win.  And I think you realized afterward what I had always known – that knowledge is over-rated – that sweetness and innocence are the most precious things we can have.  That night haunts me to this day.  I should have said no and sent you away.  I should have said, stay beautiful, stay sweet.  But I was a trained robot on autopilot.  I just did what was expected of me and cried by myself afterward, like I’d done my whole life.  I didn’t cry for me, even though I knew you wouldn’t be coming back.  Who was I kidding, having virginal dreams of white weddings and your loving arms around me and our beautiful asian/latino children playing around us.  I cried for you.  I cried for you because I saw the hardened look in your eyes and knew you would be forever different.

Anyway, Pat, I just wanted you to know that it was never you.  My father ruined me.  I guess he contributed to the ruin of you as well.  You were so pure and beautiful, and I wanted you to know that somebody walks the earth knowing you are the very best kind of good person out there.  The irony is, I now search and long for all those things you felt made you inadequate.  I hope you have made a good life for yourself, and I bet you have a wife and children, and I know they are very lucky people.

Recently, I have been abandoned by people I thought loved me and my parents died.  Since their death, I have been freed to explore the impact being adopted and abused has had on my life, and I have looked fondly back on a few shining moments like I had with you.  And I wanted to have some closure with you so you not think ill of me or you.

I’m moving to Korea to learn about my birth culture, and to search for my flesh and blood.  As I leave this life in America, I just wanted to connect to those that made a difference and say thank you for seeing me and taking a chance on me.  I hope I did not damage you too much.  I hope you can forgive me.  I was just a kid.  An adopted abused kid.

Fondest regards,


Written by girl4708

November 25, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Ancestor Worship

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Once upon a time I was a community leader in Cuban culture appreciation in these parts.
I was totally caught up in the polyrythmic complexities of it and danced any time I could and traveled to wherever and whenever I could to catch the best bands. I was intrigued by the folkloric dance forms and music and became a scholar of contemporary Latin music and Afro-Cuban music history. That investigation took me to explore West African roots and that took me to African religions – those are the roots of salsa.

I actually found Santeria pretty compelling and attempted to practice for awhile. At the time, I was looking for a religion that kept out of politics – Santeria was based in the natural world, ancient, and full of the comfort of ritual song and dance.  I had a mentor who was a priestess guiding me, and it was much more of a philosophical discussion about Santeria in daily life vs. the superstitions as practiced in the Cuban religion and the commercialized charlatan filled version practiced here in the states. I was lucky I found this one woman to talk with me about the more fundamental spirituality of it, and who wouldn’t try to impress me with all of the ceremony and ritual things that draw people in when they don’t understand what the rituals really mean.

One of the basic tenants of Santeria is ancestor worship, so as an adoptee I had an awful time practicing this of course.

The way she explained Yoruban ancestor worship was this: the spirits of people do not go away. they don’t go to heaven. they don’t go to hell. that is too linear a way to think. they just are. they are all around us in our atmosphere and everything we touch and guiding everything we do. they are like atomic particles in a primordial soup. and what we can’t see is actually thick with spirit. Egun – they are the spirits of those that came before you and that are there to guide you. There are human attributes which have been assigned to different Gods and those Gods are associated with forces of nature. Anyway, I wont get into the whole cosmology of it, but basically you have two Gods that protect you and that share their attributes with you and your egun watch over and guide you. Your fortunes and happiness are dependent upon your Gods knowing you honor them. And you can’t honor your Gods without the wisdom and guidance you get from forging a relationship with your ancestors.

It was interesting because church isn’t a place you visit – every day of every minute is church. Your home has an altar, and the altar is where you pay homage to your Gods and respect to your ancesters. Practicing devoutly and being a person of faith means having a RELATIONSHIP with your dead ancestors. You say hello to them when you come home and light a candle. You tell them your daily gripes, your joys, your heartaches. OUT LOUD. Like a crazy person talking to themselves, only you are speaking to your ancestors. When you eat, you give them a symbolic helping. You clean and tidy their space. You make it nice for them. You thank them all the time for everything you receive. Any time anything of note happens, there are prayers that you say. You bring them gifts. You give them fresh flowers. You say good night to them when you go to bed. It’s like having a baby or a dog – but it requires even more attention!

So there I was, practicing all this and yes – actually feeling close to something faint – but unlike other ancestor worshipers, I had no photos, no artifacts, no mementos. Not that I was jealous of other people’s altars, but more that those things that capture an ancestor or belonged to someone you loved or anything that was a remembrance of a fond moment or a crappy moment – these things have a power over us. They had history and I dropped out of nowhere. And I had nothing but my candles and flowers. I told my Santera about how I was adopted and she came up with all these traditional Cuban things people do – but they were all culturally inappropriate. She told me to put up cultural things from my country on my altar, but I had NO CLUE what those might be. And at the time, I didn’t even have any documents – I didn’t get those until recently when my parents died. I had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. No trace of a past. Only the notion that I had to have come from somewhere…

I eventually gave up. I felt my voice couldn’t carry me far enough, that it was like howling in the wind. I felt like my ancestors did not travel with me to America, but were hovering in the mountains of Korea, through the pines or in the rice fields or steaming kettles of soup. I came to be quite disgusted with the way Santeria was practiced in America. But, to this day I appreciate the rigor and concept of ancestor worship, even though I no longer practice it.

I know Cuba and Africa are not the only cultures that practice Ancestor worship. I know clan lineage and bloodlines are a cornerstone of Korean culture. I really LIKE the idea of my corporeal body being the living result of something that extends back through history. But my history was stolen from me. And I feel like a ghost. At unrest, but still alive.

I wonder now, what our ancestors think of this tragic separation that has taken us all away? I wonder about first nation’s peoples and aboriginees, what their ancestors would think of their children being stolen and placed into white families who thought less of them and treated them badly? I wonder if they are crying and can hear our faint whispers from thousands of miles away?

I left out that Santeria is a monotheistic religion, despite it having a panoply of lesser gods, there is at their creation story only one – Olodumare. The lesser gods, who are all the forces of nature, are his children. The goal is always for all of us to learn here on earth, and then we can join the gods and Olodumare and come home. Even in the Christian faith in which I was raised, the afterlife is where you finally get to come home.

So many religions seem to somehow be about this idea of family and returning home to be with them.

Written by girl4708

November 6, 2008 at 10:09 pm

Posted in Infinite Longing

Relative Choices

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Article in the New York Times

November 13, 2007,  8:01 pm

Written by Hollee McGinnes

Like many adopted people I never had a simple answer to the question, “Where did I come from?” For most people raised by their biological parents, this question can be answered by simply gazing at their parent’s face. There in the turn of a nose and the curve of the eye they are reminded of where they came from. bounded by blood, a part of a human continuum passed from mother to daughter, from father to son.

The author, the day she arrived in the United States, walking off the plane at J.F.K. airport. (Photographs courtesy of Hollee McGinnis.)

I, on the other hand, seemingly dropped out of the sky on a Boeing 747, walking, talking and potty trained.

Read the full article here

Written by girl4708

October 15, 2008 at 3:22 am

Posted in Infinite Longing

Austin at the Orphanage

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So I’m learning Korean.  Middle-aged woman with early onset altzheimer’s attempting to learn a TOTALLY foreign tongue.   Or IS IT???  I DID hear it for almost three years of my life and nine months in the womb.

Anyway, at the language program I signed up for I ran across one of the instructor’s blogs, where he volunteers at a Korean orphanage getting to know the children.  I haven’t read the entire thing yet, but here is one post:   More Background…and a video!

I appreciated the comments – I think if more people knew about adoption in Korean culture, westerners would not be so quick to rescue them.  It is too simple a solution to a very complex problem.

Oh, and btw.  THIS orphan is moving to Korea to live for a year or two.  There’s a lot of us so-called orphans.

Orphan.  The dictionary definition doesn’t begin to describe what it means.

Written by girl4708

October 15, 2008 at 2:47 am

Posted in Infinite Longing

Letter to my new friend

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I THINK, i think abandonment and adoption permeates us into our psyches in such inexplicable ways…we’re totally confusing to those around us.  they see us do things that just don’t make sense to them.  i don’t know about you, but I have an over-the-top sense of justice, and a moral high ground and personal expectation that other people first admire then struggle with.  i call it borderline borderline personality disorder.  the world just seems so crystalline to me – i try so hard and everyone should try that hard!  i’m always disappointed how people give up and move on so easily.  when i commit to someone, i COMMIT to them.  i’m horrified at how flippant everyone is with people’s emotions and how self-centered everyone eventually prooves to be.

i think also that we are such cautious people.  we are withdrawn and remote and unwelcoming.  we don’t open up easily, but when we do we bare all and give all.  it’s a gift.  people don’t realize how precious this gift is.  other people, they guard themselves in a more constant and less extreme way.  they are better preservationists than we are.  they therefore walk away with more left of themselves.  but for us, for us we have to / need to be this way.  because what we need more than anything on the planet is something real.  we know small case love, but we’ve never known unconditional love.  for us everything is an existential crisis.  for us without an identity, everything is a fabrication.  we wander the planet seeking something real.  we test everything for its honesty.

somehow, we have to find our own truth and have faith that our truths will shine through and people will see us.  i crawl under my rock and hide from people, but i find strength in my voice.  it gives me a little purpose.  like the words you write are beautiful and elegant, i know my words reach people.  there is something about us – and sang-shil’s land of the not-so-calm – and other thoughtful KAD’s that nobody can fault.  there is the real that we seek in the truth that we speak.

and that’s why there is also something beautiful about our depressions.  learning to connect to our emotions and expressing them is beautiful and pure.  it’s such a sordid ugly world, but our pain is pure and our hope is pure.  we have so much to share.  the world is better because we are in it.

so don’t despair.
you are not alone
we are family.

Written by girl4708

September 27, 2008 at 10:54 pm

Posted in Infinite Longing

Memento of Korea

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I visit the homes of well-traveled friends, marveling at the mementos they have brought back with them.  Cultural artifacts they have gathered adorn their walls, reminding them of fond times they have spent in those places.

Interspersed among their mementos are snapshots or portraits of their families.

My walls, however, are bare.

I have been estranged, more or less, from my adoptive family since I was 17.  I have done some traveling myself, and never found anything worthy of memories to hang on my walls.  I have always been on the move and the transient nature of my existence does not give me the freedom to scar a wall with the commitment of a nail.

The only thing scarred, it seems, is me.

(figuratively and literally)

I forget about my scar, hidden as it is.

The scar is the size of a quarter, mottled like a banana chip, its texture smooth in places, dimpled in others.  Dimpled where the stitches entered and exited.  What trauma caused this?

I wish my scar could talk.

Maybe my scar could tell me why i have always, always been solemn
Maybe my scar could tell me my name, who I am.

I love my scar.

It’s all that I came to America with.

My memento of Korea.

Written by girl4708

September 27, 2008 at 10:45 pm

Posted in Infinite Longing