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

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Are you my family?

Family. At times the word can seem foreign to me. For a long time, I would look at other families and be envious of the things I didn’t have, whether it was siblings or the ability to spend time together and not want to scream. I learned from a young age that family seemed to be everything. Family was this mythological construct where people always got along and they always wanted to spend time with each other. Growing up I would watch shows like Family Matters, and Full House all the while wondering if that is how a family is supposed to be. Then I saw an extended family of mine and they were always taking vacations together, talking together and genuinely enjoyed spending time together. This was not always the case for me and it still isn’t. I didn’t really know that families could spend so much time together without sacrificing some part of their mental health.

As I grew older and not having a civil or even functional relationship with my “step sister”, I found my family elsewhere. My family and “sisters” were friends, people whom I could be myself with, that loved me unconditionally. After joining my sorority, I found my sisters, women that to this day I know I can call day or night and they will be there. Those three other women are truly my sisters, I word that I don’t use lightly.

Recently I started reconnecting with my mom’s family, some of whom I haven’t seen since I was a little girl. People that I barely remember, if I remember them at all. For the last two years, my kids and I have walked in the local ALS Walk for my dad. This year, seemingly out of nowhere, family from Florida that I just got in contact with this year, decided to make the 8-hour drive or fly up for the walk. This would have been enough, the fact that these two people who I don’t remember meeting are coming up to support ME and an organization that helped my dad during his fight. My “uncle” (actually my mom’s cousin) offered that a group he belongs too, Bourbon Society of Central Florida could sponsor my team and hold a charity raffle. I was floored. Believe me when I say that nothing shocked me more.

In support and appreciation for their support, I had team shirts made with their logo on the back. Last night they had their raffle and the total they raised for the ALS Society. It brought me to tears. They are such an amazing group of people, truly. My uncle is amazing, someone who I barely remember and haven’t seen in over 20 years made this all possible. THAT is family, that is something that I never thought would happen. I am truly overwhelmed and so thankful. In less than two weeks I get to give him the biggest hug ever and thank him.

Love your family. I love mine and I am so thankful for them.

Always,

J

What?! I can’t be racist…

Growing up not physically looking like my family created some challenges. There were moments in my childhood and beyond where I fell victim to racial slurs and comments. One Christmas while I was home from college there was a discussion of interracial relationships. My stepmother said that it would be “taboo” to bring home a black man, the look on my face must have given her an indication I was confused. Her response was how her family isn’t racist but…by that point I had stopped listening. I was furious. EVERY RELATIONSHIP I was in WAS an interracial relationship. Last time I looked in the mirror I wasn’t white…but I also apparently didn’t count as a person of color (POC). My parents stated that it would be weird if I brought home, someone of another race, even though I’m not white. It always struck me as odd and I tried not to take it personally but how couldn’t I? I am a person of color.

I was raised in a home that didn’t “see color”. Where I was taught that it was on the inside that counts. The truth was is that people DO SEE color, it is one of the first things we notice whether we want to admit it or not. Though it does not define us, it sure as hell matters how we identify ourselves, we see ourselves as POC. While those around my chose not to see color I was aware of it constantly. In school, while learning about the Civil Rights Movement and Japanese internment camps my parents would reassure me that society had made progress since that time and they do not care what color I am. It does matter. As a POC, whether my family sees it or not, my struggles are different than theirs.

Funny thing is that you CAN be a racist even though you have POC as friends or you yourself are a POC, they are not mutually exclusive. Just because you know a POC, are a POC or raised a POC but still, have racist thoughts or feelings STILL MAKES YOU RACIST. I’ve heard excuses like I don’t count because I’m a “Twinkie” (that’s a whole other discussion) because I know this person or that person then racism isn’t an issue or my personal favorite is about the time period someone grew up in. Guess what? It’s not an excuse. You can still have hate in your heart.

The first racial slur I heard was in middle school. I didn’t know what it meant until I asked my dad. It made me mad for several reasons most importantly because I am not Chinese, I am Korean. Initially, I did not know what the word meant, I just knew that I was mad. I believe that race is something that needs to be discussed, you can be “colorblind” while still being able to address race.

Recently while I was driving down the road a truck passed me and yelled another racial slur. No, I wasn’t being a stereotypical “Asian woman driver”, I was stopped in a turn lane waiting my turn during rush hour. It had been a long time since I had heard a racial slur with so much hate directed at me.  After that, I knew eventually I would have to have a discussion with my son. My son is half Korean and half Caucasian, his physical features are mostly mine, he looks more Asian than he does white. He will need to understand that there is hate in this world and there may be times that he may fall victim to it. There is a sense of duty to protect my child from the hate and even though I cannot shield him from everything I can teach him about it so he will understand.

Whether or not we have the ability to admit it or not, on some level whether it be conscious or not, we are aware of race, society is aware of race. There are still discrepancies in this world between the races and not addressing it is part of the problem. We cannot confront what is not known. The question comes down to, are you going to sit back and watch or muster your courage and do something about it?

Dear Adoptive Parents Everywhere,

What you have is a blessing and a curse. The mere foundation of your family is built on someone else’s trauma. This thought of happiness founded on trauma never really occurred to me. Honestly, I had always assumed my biological mother was “better off” and that her decision to place me for adoption was in my best interest and hers. After speaking with other KADs, some of whom have reunited with their biological family and others who have decided the unknown will never be known. There is a possibility that some of these birth mothers were coerced into giving their child up for adoption. The circumstances surrounding adoptions may never truly be known and the intentions unclear.

As an adoptive mom, I know some of the struggles that my daughter will have. There are times even now that I have to be very mindful of how I word things or how things are phrased. She remembers that she has another set of parents, but she doesn’t remember what they physically look like. One time she even asked me why they couldn’t keep her and when she came to live with us. After speaking with her therapist, our answers continue to be age appropriate. We have never spoken badly of her parents to her, we simply stated that they were unable to keep her safe. “Safe”, a word she knows very well and a word I still struggle to feel. My daughter likes being protected, she needs to know and feel that someone is with her, that someone won’t leave her and that either myself or her dad will return. For now, that is the best answer I can give her.

Adoptees struggle being stuck in two different worlds, at least those in transracial adoptions. We belong to a culture that we don’t identify with yet we identify one in which we were raised. There is a constant inner struggle that goes on within each of us between the two worlds. We are not white enough to be white, and yet we are not culturally Korean enough to be Korean. We may look the part of being Korean, but most adoptees still struggle with identifying with the Korean culture.

Whether you are transracially adopting or not, it is important to know that we as adoptees have a lot going on underneath the surface. We may have memories that may be triggered by smells, locations, seasons, food or even sound. Personally, I am not sure that I have any memories sounded by these but I know there are some that have them based on food and seasons. We don’t always remember events, but our bodies do, we don’t remember any possible neglect or abuse, but our bodies do, and we especially don’t always remember the trauma of being separated from our biological family but our bodies do. Please support our emotional health as well as our physical, we may not know the cause of our pain but help us get the support we need.

Remember to show us compassion and love, sometimes we need an extra hug or an extra reassurance that we are safe and secure. Remember to support us if we decide to search for our biological roots. We are only curious to see where we came from, you cannot blame us for being curious, but we would never replace you.

*This may not apply to all adoptees, but in my experience, this is what I have seen*

Always,

J

Wait…Are YOU her Mom?

While I was checking out in the grocery store with my two children the cashier asked, “Um…where does the blonde hair come from?” My daughter does not have the same physical features that I do, her hair is golden yellow, her eyes are one of the most beautiful blues I have ever seen, and her skin is milky white, she physically appears the polar opposite to my monolid eyes, dark hair and olive skin tone. During the four years, I’ve been this little girl’s mother, I always heard the same types of questions. People wanted to know how me, being of Korean ethnicity came to be the mother of a blue-eyed blonde hair little girl. As a foster parent and eventually an adoptive parent, I never want to explain my little girl’s past to complete strangers, I felt it was intrusive an inappropriate. She is still very little and she doesn’t even comprehend her history or life before she came to live with us. My response was very curt, I simply stated that she got the hair from her father, it was quite the clever answer if you ask me, both her biological and adoptive fathers have blonde hair. Technically I wasn’t deceitful, I was able to provide an appropriate answer while still protecting my daughter’s privacy. The cashier asked if those were strong genes given that my hair is so dark, I nodded and proceeded to finish checking out my groceries.

Since this little girl came into our home, she was one of the best things to come into my life. She has challenged me in ways that my son never did and gave me a lot of things to self-reflect over. Part of the topics I discuss in my book is because of her, and my desire to provide her with the best home and mental support available to her. My hope is that she would be able to process things that had happened in her past and would be able to heal from them. By this time I had also started to become part of the KAD community (Korean Adoptee), this too aided in the self-reflection and hearing stories from other people.

Adoption creates something within us, it leaves a scar that only other adoptees speak of and understand, some of us can instantly connect even without meeting in person. The experiences and stories that I have heard are a comfort to know that it wasn’t just my experience or something unique to me. There are not a lot of adoptees who speak about their feelings or about the feeling of being stuck in two different worlds. Being a transracial adoptee AND adoptive mom has its own struggles and stories. There are countless instances in which I can feel and see the glares, the questioning looks, and comments that have been made.

There was one evening while I was attending a friend’s church, a woman approached me from the congregation and asked me if I felt grateful that my parents adopted me. Most likely from the look on my face, this poor woman didn’t realize what she had said. Grateful? GRATEFUL? My mind could not process being grateful, I was a baby when I was adopted, I wasn’t given a choice or an option on where to go, I was just sent where I was placed. Even now decades later I can only speculate what my life would have been like if my parents would have not adopted me. The different scenarios that someone could dream up are endless.

Why don’t we, as adoptees speak out more? For me personally, I was always concerned about what people would think or how it would make my parents feel. My intentions were never to hurt them but my feelings and experiences are different than others. However, I believe that adoptees need to tell their stories, that even pain and trauma can emerge from growing up in loving two parent stable homes. That there is something significant that happens when you adopt a child or even a baby. Our experiences are unique and significant for others to hear. If we don’t speak up and use our voices to tell our stories we have failed future adoptees and adoptive parents. Without us taking the courage to use the voices we’ve been given leaves an opportunity for nothing to change. Be courageous and tell your story, experience, and feelings even just to your friends.

Always,

J