Thoughts on Jo Wilson on Greys Anatomy

For those of you who have followed this season of Grey’s Anatomy you have slowly follow Jo’s story. From her very rough start of living out of her car, her extremely abusive ex-husband, to now where she is happily married, about to start a family and starting her birth family search. I wasn’t sure if Shonda would ever give us more of a backstory about her but thankfully this season we start to see Jo’s story and specifically her adoption journey unfold as she and Alex discuss starting their own family.

*SPOILER ALERT*

This past episode we got to see Jo after what seemed like a while to process the brief interaction between her and her biological mother. Over the past couple of episodes we have seen her withdraw from Alex and the rest of her friends, she hasn’t been work, drinks more than we typically see her drink and appears jilted, angry, numb and depressed. When she emerges from her bed and starts back working she immerses herself at work, continues to push Alex away and finally is confronted that she was drinking while in the lab.

The end of the show is an argument between Alex and Jo when he confronts her about her going to work drunk and she continues to push him away. By the end of the show, I could relate to Jo on so many different levels.

I have read a few comments from other viewers about how “Jo is the worst” and she is “always in so much pain…Alex doesn’t need her…she is so petty”. The review was hard to read because Jo is incredibly relatable to many adoptees. For those that have followed my adoption journey and now with the potential of reuniting with birth family, I can understand 100% why she withdrew from loved ones. I don’t agree with her showing up drunk on the job but the degree of her heightened emotions could cause people to do irrational things.

I’m sure the million dollar question is why did Jo withdraw and didn’t explain herself to Alex. As an adoptee, who has spoken with other adoptees, specifically Korean adoptees, some who have reunited with family, some where the birth family continues to deny their existence, some who are in process of searching and other who will never know their birth family and on some level we all relate. We all have this collective experience that is unique to us that we understand all the different emotions we experience as we walk along this journey.

There are times, I admit that I prefer to speak to specific KAD friends because of where they are in their birth family search, or because of other similar circumstances we have. I do not mean to withdraw myself from my other friends and loved ones, however adoption and the trauma surrounding adoption is something that we all KADs just understand. Some of these women that I have become close friends with I have only met a handful of times but on some level we just all “click”. We understand the struggles all of us have experienced and empathize in our current struggles of having our feet stand in two different worlds.

I am by no means excusing Jo’s drinking behavior or showing up to work drunk. What I am saying is that her portrayal of what adoptees go through during the birth family search is something ALL adoptive parents should see. Her story shows the darker side of adoption. As I have mentioned before, not all adoptions are happy endings, some have a very dark side. I am extremely grateful that Shonda is shedding light on adoptees, our journey, our pain, our struggles and has given us a realistic portrayal of us on prime time.

Monday evening, I finally got the courage to call the organization I have been working with. Unfortunately, the person who answered did not speak very good English so I will have to call back later this week. I am nervous and extremely anxious. I don’t speak Korean and having to explain where I am at in my search is nerve-wracking enough.  For now one day at a time, one step at a time.

 

-J

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The Adoption Narrative

I can’t for the life of my find the right words. I’m overwhelmed, discouraged and disgusted. The adoption industry as a whole has turned human trafficking legal and turned children into one of the most profitable commodities. Like many other KADs, I know that the money that was paid for my adoption didn’t go to assist family supportive programs, or any other type of social service, instead it went to help rebuilding South Korea after the Korean war. To be frank, we were the nation’s hottest commodity and around 20 thousand or more per child, you can imagine the amount the country made on our behalf. Without thought of the future, Korea went as far as to try and erase our history and our past with the hope that we would never venture away from our newly found country and attempt to retrace our roots. Korea was wrong. Every month, every day, every summer KADs fly from all over the world to try and find their roots, to search for lost family members and put together pieces of a puzzle that never quite fit. We go back trying to be part of a culture that wanted us to move ahead and never look back, a culture that at times even rejects us now. We aren’t Korean by their standards and yet we try to fit into their world that we were never a part of or have forgotten. We can feel the stares when we are unable to speak Korean or when we do not know the social norms and customs. We are fully aware that we exist in two different worlds with one foot in each…and yet people still pay thousands of money each year to adopt a child from another country without knowing the impact it will have on the child.

We, as adoptees know all too well the affects that have haunted us. We are plagued daily with our own sense of abandonment, even with something as trivial as someone forgetting to call us back. We feel that sting each time. We know that eventually there will be questions that are unable to be answered or things we cannot explain. There will be things we may remember but do not know anything more than that. We will have to be reminded each time of our adoption when we go to the doctor and are asked about our family’s medical history. Each time in school we are reminded when a genetics project is assigned. We feel all those pains and those never really go away. We feel each impact that someone else made on our behalf as an infant or young child, taking us from a country we were born into and moving most of us half way across the world.

I have been fortunate enough to be on both sides of the equation. My daughter is adopted and I know that she will have questions. I know exactly what kinds of questions she is going to ask and the types of things she is going to feel. Even though she was adopted through foster care and our situations are not the same, I know there are some things I will be able help her through.

Now comes the uncomfortable part, the part where I can imagine that by all of these comments that I am somehow ungrateful that I was adopted or unappreciative of the life I was given. You’d be wrong if you think that, but I know that won’t stop you. You know who you are and your opinion of me will never change. I am not ungrateful in any way, shape or form, nor am I upset, bitter or even resentful that I was adopted. What I am saying is that adoptive parents don’t always know the impact that adoption has or will have. Even as babies, we are not clean slates. There have been numerous studies that show babies are able to identify their biological mother after they are born. Ripping them from that is traumatic whether you are able to admit it or not, there are plenty of studies that will confirm that it is traumatic for an infant to be separated from its mother.

The adoption narrative needs to change, how it needs to change isn’t something that I’ve been able to find a solution for yet. I know that there are millions of adoptee voices out there each with their own opinion on adoption and each with their own experience and story and they need to be heard. We are the experts. We are willing to sit down and have a conversation on what an adoptee means to us and how it has impacted who we are. The conversation only happens when people, mostly people who want to adopt and those who perpetuate the adoption commodity are willing to listen.

Appa Update

Back in December, I wrote about finding out the name of my birth father and where he currently resides in South Korea. Since then, that is where the information trail stops. I have attempted to contact my case worker through the organization I am using and the last I heard was that there was going to be an attempt to contact him. Since that last email, the staff has changed a little bit and it appears that I have slipped in between the cracks.

After four different emails sent to the general email inbox, my next attempt will be to call them in hopes to make contact with someone who speaks English and I can see the status of my case. My plan is still to return to visit this year, however, if I do not make it this spring, and it’s looking like that, I will probably wait until fall. I don’t have a desire to go during Korean summer with heat and humidity.

The longer time passes as I wait to hear from the organization, the more anxious I get about losing the little piece of information that I have. It’s crazy the emotional roller coaster that I have been put on even with just the case of having his name. I used to think that such information was enough, that I would only need to know a name that would satisfy my curiosity but it seems like that isn’t the case.

Now that there is known information, everything feels like it is within reach. I can sick to my stomach just thinking about the numerous possibilities. Before I knew any of this information, I had come to accept that to find him would be a near miracle…and now that it has completely proven me wrong I am curious now more than ever.

My plan is to call the organization in Korea in the next couple of weeks to see if there is someone who is still in contact with the people handling my case. I am hoping that there is at the very least something to report back so I can start planning my trip back to Seoul.

Here is a link to the bringing of my appa search. Nothing Short of a Christmas Miracle

 

Self Destruction in 3…2…1…

At some point in our lives we self destruct. Am I right? Maybe it’s the pressure of every day life debating whether or not you are spending too much time at work or not enough time at work. It can even be that your child’s birthday party wasn’t like the one you saw on Pintrest or their classmates. Whatever the reason, we some point we hit our breaking point, the point in which we can no longer bear the weight that has been placed upon our shoulders.

Even now, years later, I can still recall my though process prior to making an impulsive, self destructive decision whether in middle school or even into adulthood. My thoughts were always the same, I had made up my mind that whomever I was currently infatuated with, was about to leave and had lost all interest in me…even though those thoughts were based off of my own feelings and not facts. Since whomever I was with at the present moment was about to leave, I justified my behavior believing that I was only moving on and showing the world that I was not hurt on the inside…that I was as tough as I claimed to me. This was not the case, the strength I pretended to have was a facade, it was all pretend. It was the way that I had learned to protect myself after years of feeling left behind and rejected.

I have included the links to the books that have helped in my self sabotaging behavior and helped me identify my triggers while showing me tools too help become more self aware. If you have the chance, please check them out. They have been worth every penny that I have spent. The following books have given me more explanation, tools and self realization than I thought were possible. For a long time I always felt alone and out of place. It was as if my experience made me unique and stand out from the crowd. It wasn’t until decades later that I would meet others that shared in the same type of struggle, that knew the types of feelings that I had experienced.

The light bulb above my head had been turned on and once I had gotten explanation for what I was doing to hurt those I cared most about, I knew it was time to fix it. Fixing it ended up being one of the hardest things to heal from. In fact, I am still healing. I believe this healing journey will be life long. I will tell you that there are days and situations in which I end up thinking the most irrational and ridiculous thoughts but now I know those thoughts are coming and I am prepared for them. Take care of yourself.

 

J

 

The Journey from Abandonment to Healing: Revised and Updated: Surviving Through and Recovering from… by Susan Anderson 

The Abandonment Recovery Workbook: Guidance through the Five Stages of Healing from Abandonment… by Susan Anderson

Taming Your Outer Child: Overcoming Self-Sabotage and Healing from Abandonment by Susan Anderson

What I’ve Been Reading

I thought this post I would take a different take on things and include some of the books that I have been reading over the last couple of years. I have not included all of them but wanted to highlight some of the ones that really meant something to me. I have included the links to either the author website or their Amazon page. Please feel free to check them out. I will be reading them again soon.

The first book that I want to mention is “Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing of Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers”. This is a book that was recommended to me about two years into therapy. By this time my therapist and I had built a very good rapport and we began to dive into a lot of the issues.

Before I explain what this book is about, I want to make one thing clear. Neither my therapist NOR myself, have diagnosed any of my family members. The resources that were given to be were based upon the conversations, situations or comments that were brought up during therapy with regard to situations that I had throughout middle school and beyond.

My first initial reaction hit me straight in the chest. The main question asking us if we will ever be good enough was a hard pill to swallow. From middle school into my early adulthood, this is how I felt. I thought that no matter what I did or how I acted, I would never been good enough. I ordered the book off of Amazon and started to dive into it the first night I got it. I have to admit, there was a disclaimer from my therapist that I may not relate to everything mentioned in the book, because the topic of abuse is brought up and that is not something that I have experienced.

I was however able to identify with a lot of other emotions presented in the book. While reading through, I completed the exercises that were suggested and did my best to follow their instructions and tips. I felt better, as if someone truly understood what was going on through my head. It was such a comfort in the validation that came from hearing other people’s stories.

If you are interested in learning more, I will include the link at the bottom of this post.

The next book is one that I jumped into when I started attending my church small group. It was the only one that worked with my schedule. Each Tuesday at 6:30AM we would meet and start out our morning in prayer and discussing our current study. I joined this group in April of 2015 and it was one of the best decisions I have made. I have met some of the most amazing Godly women whom I call sister.

When I started this group, they were reading “Biblical Femininity” by Grace Church. The entire book focuses around how women are image bearers of God and the feminine qualities of God that we reflect. Women are called to be “helpers”. Mentally and spiritually, I was not in a good place when I joined the group. I was separated from my boyfriend at the time whom I had selfishly hurt in the worst way possible.

I desperately wanted answers to my brokenness, to understand what had happened. It was there in those early morning studies that I came to find the broken pieces. This book not only explains how women were created to be helpers, but also explains how we can be tempted and what happens when we succumb to those temptations. As we started to learn and read about our core temptation things started to fall into place. I started to understand my role as a woman and even more, understand why things had happened the way they did.

Since the first time I have read this book, I have read it two times since then. It seems that the more I read it the more I get out of it. It was one of those books that turned on a light bulb for me.

There are other books as well, however I am going to include those in the next blog post, because those are written by the same author and have an overall theme together. I have included the links to the two books I have mentioned today. They are worth the read. I will be posting more as I’ve got a nightstand full of books that I need to start reading.

 

 

 

Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing of Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karly McBride, Ph.D.

Biblical Femininity by Grace Church

Respond not React

 

 

 

 

For years, starting in my adolescence, I have allowed the overstepping of boundaries from family members, mostly because it was always easier to ignore and allow myself to be my own worst critic. I have also learned from previous lessons that reacting instead of responding creates the exact type of response that I do not want. This is not emotional, this is strictly concerning behavior, not emotions or feelings. Feelings are not facts.

Here are the facts, on December 1, 2018, three women, all of whom I am related too, show up unannounced to my launch party promptly around 2pm. They were my stepmother, and both aunts, one of which flew from California. First thing out of my aunt from California’s mouth, “The weeds are here”. Without provocation, I am called a liar, that I have a restraining order against me, I don’t know what the word “family” means and I wrote nothing more than a journal that should have been kept under my pillow.

They were very quickly asked to leave from two bystanders, only to tell someone else coming into the venue that I am a liar but not before calling a friend of mine “trash” because he asked them to leave. Mind you, my children were in the other room, thankfully they did not hear or see these women.

Next, I am told these family members are in town on “business” for 5 days. They have zero business in SC other than myself and my children, they do not work for companies based in SC nor are there other family members or friends that reside in the state. Unless my flight attendant aunt was here on business, which had not previously occurred, their “trip” here was solely to “attend” my launch party.

On December 4, 2018, after at least 2 other previous conversations with the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office, I stay on hold as a deputy contacts my aunt, Mary Pat to stop contacting me. The deputy stated that she did not answer the phone and left her a voicemail. Picture number one shows an unsolicited text message from her and my response. I have not responded to her text messages for over a year. You are able to see her response in picture number two.

After the deputy left a message on her cell phone on December 4, 2018, I was made aware that on Monday, December 3, all three women “verified” where I was living, went by my apartment as well as walked around the home where my kids’ dad lives knowing we weren’t at home.

Since my aunt Mary Pat has not contacted me via text message, phone call or email, she has continued to visit my website and “comment” on my blog posts. After her first two comments were made, I promptly blocked her, see pictures three and four.

Since I have blocked Mary Pat from commenting on my blog posts, “Frank” has begun to comment on my posts. Oddly enough his email address is fake and he sure takes the tone of Mary Pat, see pictures five, six and seven. His IP address is also out in California…I have since blocked “Frank” but for whatever reason, it doesn’t seem to stop “his” comments.

After speaking with a local magistrate, a restraining order does not protect out of state contact, it would only prevent contact if she were to be in the state in which I reside, this does not help the situation because due to the nature of her job, she flies around the country and so there is never one set location or schedule. In speaking with the local magistrate, he suggested I speak with an attorney regarding a civil lawsuit. After a brief conversation with an attorney, it was noted that such comments appear not harassing in nature but more to produce an emotional response and at this time is not worth legally pursuing.

I have chosen to put her and her comments on public blast in hopes that it will be a deterrent. I have spoken with a magistrate, attorney, and several sheriff’s deputies. It is my sincere hope that with such a public display that it will deter any further behavior. In addition, any further harassment, name-calling, accusations or otherwise comments will be continued to be documented, treated as harassment. I am not under any circumstances, however, waiving any legal rights I have presently, or future legal remedies against you by posting this blog.

I have not reached out to contact you and will continue not to contact you. I am publicly requesting now, no further communication from you or known associates with me or either of my children. I have not in any way coerced or forced you to read my memoir or my blog. If it upsets you emotionally, that is not the intention and you are welcome to completely ignore the content.

 

Functional Dysfunction

Sometimes while in the middle of a storm you don’t realize how chaotic or dysfunctional a situation is. It is like the saying of hindsight is 20/20, when we reflect back on certain situations or interactions we may be able to see that something wasn’t right or “normal”. The further you are away from something the more clearly you are able to see it.

In December, I went to see my therapist. There were a couple of situations from the beginning of the month that had sent my anxiety over the edge and I went to check in with her. Since it had been four months since I had last seen or spoken to her there was a lot of catching up to do.

During our conversation we discussed a few things that had gone on recently and a few other things that were upcoming. I casually mentioned to her that I was just in shock that a bourbon society a couple of states away that my uncle (my mom’s cousin) belongs too started a team for their local ALS walk and they will be walking and raising money in memory of my dad. She asked me why I was in so much shock. I told her that my only connection to this society was my uncle and that although they had sponsored my team in the Upstate, I didn’t expect them to create a local team and do the same.

Her response was something I don’t think I will ever forget, her response was simply that I was not used to people acting “normal”, that I had become accustomed to the dysfunction around me and was not able to recognize “normal”. That’s when it hit me. I had become conditioned to believe what had previously surrounded me was “normal”. The reality is that I didn’t really know anything different, certain behaviors, phrases and attitudes I had just assumed were “normal”.  Yet here I am in my early 30’s starting to learn that I was mistaken, that life and families are functional, dysfunctional, functionally dysfunctional and everything in between.

Functional dysfunction stops here.

In the World of Adoptees

Since the debut of my book, I have had a lot of conversations with a variety of people. Some are planning to adopt, some have already adopted and others are other adoptees. While I was writing Ode to Bermuda Grass, I never thought that I would have some of the conversations that would occur or the stories I would hear from others. It has given me the opportunity to not only share my story but share some of the darker stories from adoptees. Not everyone knows that there is a very dark side of adoption, that there are children who are place in adoptive homes and abused physically, emotionally sexually or that there are international adoptees whose parents did not finish their naturalization paperwork and therefore they are not naturalized citizens. These are not the stories that adoption supporters don’t want to hear or are even aware of.

Does this mean that I don’t support adoption? Of course not, I believe that there is a place for everything, even an adoption. Although I don’t know the story surrounding my adoption and my birth mother’s circumstances, I choose to believe that she made the best choice because of her situation.

I don’t believe that I see the world through rose colored glasses, but I was not aware that such stories like these existed in the adoptee community. These stories exist and their voices are not often heard. Like all things there is an ugly dark side of adoption, one that is not frequently talked about or even addressed. I have heard stories of adoptees being “returned” by their adoptive family and felt rejected from not only their biological family but by their adoptive family as well. The devastation that this creates in unimaginable and heartbreaking.

I say all of this to say that adoption shouldn’t be taken lightly, that there are a multitude of attitudes, feelings and situations that we as adoptees face. Does everyone understand them? No. Are there enough supports for adoptive parents and adoptees? I don’t believe so. Even if these darker stories are not shared from those who have experienced it for one reason or another, it is something to be aware of. Take the time to understand us adoptees, our stories are not always fairy tales with storybook endings, sometimes they are tragedies, thrillers or dramas.

Why Can’t I Visit Them?

It has finally happened. The questions I have been dreading for the last four years. My daughter has started asking why she can’t see her “other parents”, her biological parents. I partly blame myself since I have been talking about the fact that I have most likely found my birth father in Korea. The thought of explaining to her why she is unable to have any contact with her biological parents is something that has weighed heavy on my heart.

Recently it has been brought to my attention that I claim to be an “adoptive” parent however I am not on my daughter’s paperwork. This is true, and if I have misled you in any way, you have my apologies. However it does not change the fact that paperwork does not define a family, that is exactly what it is, just a piece of paper. Throughout my life, I know families whether, through law or otherwise who aren’t on each other’s papers, that doesn’t make them any less family. If you ask my daughter she will tell you I am her mother. To HER I am her mother, that’s all that I need.

Since she has come into our care, we have always kept things at her level. We try to explain different situations in a way that she will understand. When the topic of biological parents would come up, she typically would use the term “other parents”, a term she continues to use. It what makes sense in her head. Eventually, I know there will come a day where we have to the hard conversation about why she can’t see them and the circumstances that lead her to come into our lives.

From the very beginning, being adopted, I already know the type of questions that she is going to ask. I know the type of information she is going to ask. As of right now, she continues to have a relationship with her maternal grandmother, however eventually I know that will not be enough. As she continues to watch me walk down my journey, there are going to be a lot of similarities and differences. There will be questions that I won’t be able to answer and ones that I never thought she would ask.

Over the last four years, I have gone over and over in my head the type of information that I would want in her position and go from there. Like any good parent, I have wanted to do everything possible without hurting her to shield her from her previous circumstances. There are experiences that a two-year-old should never be exposed too, words that they should never hear and situations they should never be placed in. I know that one day, I will have to answer the hard questions and walk beside her as she slowly starts to discover the truth. My only hope is that I can be the mom she needs and use my experience and journey to help her when she walks through the valleys.

Always,

J

Nothing Short of a Christmas Miracle

I have been debating when or even how to write about this. The last week or so has put me into a zombie-like state. My children’s dad said I have “pregnancy brain”. For the life of me I cannot get words out of my mouth, I forget what things or called or even how to speak. If you know me, you know this is typically not the problem. No, I am not pregnant. The emotional roller coaster I have been on and continue to be on isn’t anything short of a miracle.

For those that have been following my journey, I lost my father in October 2017. Since then and prior too then, I had an ever growing rift primarily with members of my family.

A couple of years ago, I start searching for my biological family. I began searching for my birth mom (omma) since it seemed the easiest place to start. My adoption paperwork from Korea has bits and pieces of her story. According to my paperwork I have where she grew up and part of her childhood, mirrored some of mine. Eventually when she was 20, she gave birth to me and I was immediately relinquished for adoption. That’s it. No mention of who my birth father (appa) at all.

Fast forward to March of this year, after contacting an organization I finally had a lead on my omma. This lead seemed very creditable because she was the only woman in the country with a matching name and birthday as the woman on my paperwork. However upon meeting her, my hopes were dashed and I find out that as much as she wanted too, she was not my omma. She wished me well, told me I grew up beautifully and that my omma should be proud.

I thought my journey ended there. After that there wasn’t much more to do than to leave my DNA as a “missing” person in Korea, and hope there eventually would be a match. This has to guarantee. Because my paperwork had so many details, the retired police officer, current professor said he was willing to go to where she grew up and ask the elders if they knew her name/location.

Although I left Korea with unanswered questions, I knew emotionally I may not have been able to handle a blunt rejection. After much time and therapy, I had to walk away from the search. It was emotionally tolling and the amount of unanswered questions and different scenarios could drive a person mad. During the summer a lot of adoptees go back to Korea, it is usually when the organizations that help adoptees is bombarded by requests. It was at this time I decided to take a step back. I stopped following up and being diligent on searching for omma.

I emailed my contact a couple of times, and didn’t learn anything new. Slowly I was coming to terms that this would be the end of the search and I was working through accepting that my questions may remain unanswered.

A couple of days after my launch party I receive an email from my contact. Something that I never thought I would ever read. It said that a man was found who is presumed to be my birth father and this professor/retired cop wanted to bring me to meet him. I screamed in the middle of the email. I scared my kids so much they started consoling me as if I was tragically hurt. Of course o couldn’t hold back my emotions and tears ran down my cheeks. This didn’t help, my poor children were convinced I was hurting. I told them it was happy thoughts, that they had most likely found my biological father.

I became numb. I didn’t know how to react. This mystery man had a name and location. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think the possibility of finding him would happen. Since I have zero documentation regarding my birth father I either assumed my omma didn’t know or there was another legitimate reason why he was kept off of my birth certificate. The number of questions that ran through my head were endless. I wanted to know every little detail nothing too big or too small was insignificant at this point. My mind needed every single question answered. Of course I immediately wrote back stating I wasn’t sure when I would be back but that I will be back to Korea as soon as I am able.

Upon asking how this man was found, the response was “trade secret” and that was the end of that. I will admit I was a little disappointed but for the first time my appa had a name and a location. This is still mind blowing.

Some of my best friends have graciously started a GoFundMe to help get me to Korea as soon as possible. The money I had to go was used on my last trip and I was most likely planning to go back at the end of next summer but those plans were not set in stone.

After hearing all of this new information, I need to get to Korea ASAP. It is unbelievable that this miracle has happened. There is no other way to explain this, especially a couple of weeks before Christmas. I have included the link here if you feel led to donate, please do. Thoughts and prayers for this part of my journey are just as appreciated. Thank you. I will be keeping everyone posted on the start of this journey.

Always,

J