Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Chronic Ancestral Amnesia

Andy Leppard via Flickr

The other day I had a conversation with a friend about hair dyeing. She was lamenting how often she needs to cover her grays these days. I told her I was sorry, I’ve never had to color my hair and have never wanted to. I told her that recently I’d seen an article saying redheads don’t go gray, and that it gave me hope that maybe I’d not have to worry about whether or not to dye my hair. She talked about the onset of gray hair running in families. I shared stories about my husband and my best friend from college, both of whom went gray very early in life.

Later, I realized how strange my half of the conversation must have sounded. I didn’t say I thought I wouldn’t go gray because others in my family hadn’t; I talked about an article I’d read. I talked about the heredity of other people close to me. I didn’t talk about my own, because I couldn’t.

I’m not sure of my mother’s natural hair color. I’ve only seen it bleached very blonde. In faded older pictures, her hair appears a shade of red that could be similar to mine, but I don’t know that it wasn’t dyed then, too. I’ve never seen a picture of my mother or any of her siblings as children.

I’ve never seen a picture of any of my grandparents as children, though it probably wouldn’t matter much since those photos would likely be black-and-white. I’ve met a paternal aunt whose hair color is similar to mine, not at all gray, though again, I have no idea if her color was natural. My father’s hair has become more gray since I’ve known him, but I don’t know if it ever had as much red in it as mine.

I’ll find out how my hair will age the same way I found out how puberty and pregnancy would affect me—via firsthand experience. I’ll learn about menopause this same way, without the guidance of elder female relatives. I suffer from ancestral amnesia that—unfortunately, in my case—reunion has been unable to cure. Thankfully, these days I’m able to go through entire weeks forgetting that I used to feel I was dropped down on earth from the sky rather than grown in another human’s body. And then, in an unexpected moment, that feeling returns.

Karen Pickell
Karen Pickell was born and adopted in Ohio in the late 1960s. She reunited with her birth mother in 2005 and with her birth father in 2007. Her husband is an adoptive father of two children, now grown, from his first marriage, one of whom was adopted from Korea. Karen and her husband live in Florida with their two biological children. She is the founder of Adoptee Reading Resource, a catalog of books by and for adoptees. She blogs about writing, adoption, and other topics at karenpickell.com.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Living With The Consequences

As a reuntied female adult adoptee that currently struggles to manage a life filled with the constant feeling of rejection and abandonment due to the fact that I am the youngest daughter to my birth parents. I was not raised by my birth parents although I think I could have and honestly I would have prefered that. My older sisters was never forcefully nor voluntarilly separated from our birth parents I was the only one who was given that unfortunate fate.

It's a fate I despice yet has been forced to accept, it is also a fate I share with many adoptees - the thing that I still struggle to accept is the fact that my birth parents was able to keep raising their older children yet they couldn't keep me. To know that you have full birth siblings that has been able to be raised in a family by the same parents is hurtful.

Of course the roles might have been reversed, my birth parents could have decided to surrender my oldest sister for adoption while they very well could have decided to keep me. Now my birth parents didn't change their minds, but to know that your birth parents went on to have more children or raise your older siblings when they could not raise you, that is a most cruel fate that I do not wish on anyone.

Like Teen Mum's Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra, my parents would place me up for adoption while they eventually would end up having another child years after my birth and adoption. My birth parents were not teenagers, they were middleaged and married yet the betrayal, abandonement and ultimat rejection will remain the same. The circumstances and the situatitons may differ slightly.

I was given up for adoption due to the hope and belief that I would get a better life, and I gained another life with a wider access to material things, education and a better social security. Those were things I gained but I was forced to give up so many other things-things people and the Western world often and generally takes for granted.

I am a mere stranger to my birth sister and younger sibling, legally speaking and in reality. What does it help now that I managed to reunite with them at fifteen and met them nine years later? Our roles had already long since been assagined and cemented. My oldest sister was over forthy my youngest sister was only a year older while our younger sibling only learned of my existance a few weeks before my first reunion.

I wish society could begin to realize they would have to reform their thinking that very often is a backwards thinking. Korean adoptions has existed ever since the Korean War, these days the Korean orphans very often are not real orphans but mere paper orphans.

As long as there is this general notion that poor orphans need to be rescued from a live in poverty, or homelessness. The priviliged people will continue to request approval of intercountry and interracial adoption. Thus the demand will continue to be greater than the supply for a cute Asian infant adoptee or whatever other ethnic race.

It's the adoptees that has to live with the consequences that adoption separation caused, sometimes the birth parents and birth family will have to suffer too.

I don't like this talk about adoptees in this context, but I'm trying to prov a point here.

Perhaps there is no possible solutions that could garantuee a happy, harmonious and stabile adult adoptee... Is it possible to overcome the loss and separation... Maybe open adoptions is the next best thing since the adoptee still would have knowledge and some sort of contact with their birthparents without having to severe all ties for eternity.

It's taken me this long to accept and come to terms with the many lies that I believed was true for many years. My reason for relinquishment and especially knowing that this particular sentence seems to be false.
The child was given up for adoption because birthparents already had several daughters to raise. Birthparents were struggling to make ends met and decided it was better to relinquish her while they still would be able to raise a son. 
The truth is that my gender would not have influenced or changed the fact that I was relinquished. Due to the extreme circumstances related to my birth the fate of a son would not have ended any differently. I used to be jelous on my younger brother for in a way-taking the place that rightfully was mine. I can no longer feel those feelings any longer but I will always suffer from the trauma of adoption separation and the loss of my sisters and a childhood raised with several siblings.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Being an Asian Adoptee in the White Church [in the Era of Trump]

I recently posted the following to my personal FB page, and I ended up getting more feedback on it than I expected:

In the era of Trump, one in which White Evangelicals are playing a crucial role in propelling forward a White Nationalist [Supremacist] agenda, I am realizing that as not only an Asian woman but as a transracially, transnationally adopted Asian woman, the White Church in which I was raised and groomed to uphold Whiteness has become a decreasingly safe place for me (and for my kids). If this statement alarms you, it should alarm you. But perhaps not for the reasons you think.
White Church has increasingly become a source of burden and dread, because it is a place where the experiences and perspectives that define who I am as a person of color and as a transracial, transnational adoptee are fundamentally neglected, dismissed, and rejected. Therefore, I have increasingly come to realize that there is no place for me within the White Church, because the White Church can neither acknowledge nor meet the needs of my personal, familial, and social reality.
I have learned over time that Whiteness, and in particular “good Christian” Whiteness can rarely handle being challenged or made uncomfortable--and ultimately it is incredibly resistant to change.
It will perfunctorily smile and open its arms to you, but it will not try to understand you or enter your world. And if you dare to challenge it or make it uncomfortable then the deflective tool and manipulation of false victimhood will manifest in the form of the ever-flowing, eternal fount of White tears to shut you down and accuse you of perpetrating some terribly hateful act upon their Whiteness--simply by doing nothing more than expressing your reality as a person of color.
White Church, I don’t despise you. It’s just time for me to stop trying to fit into your tiny White box. There’s a whole wide world out there full of beautiful, diverse people. Who love and want to be loved.
I hope you find your way out of your dark slumber.
Until, then, farewell...not forever, but for now.

* * *

I had several people private message me who wanted clarification or further explanation.

I don’t in any way feel obligated to explain myself. But I do hope that by providing further clarification, those who expressed they can relate will feel further understood and that those who expressed concern will further understand.

First of all, being aware of my personal context as an Asian person who was adopted into Whiteness is crucial. I grew up in the unique position of being raised in a White family within the White Church within the White community as though I was a White girl, despite the fact that I am obviously Asian.

In short, I was an outsider given an inside look into Whiteness due to assumed assimilation conferred [forced] upon me by adoption.

That inside look was not flattering to Whiteness.

Being an undercover Asian showed me that Whiteness ultimately wants to subjugate people like me to it to ensure the perpetuation of a system that favors and upholds Whiteness, especially if it can do so under the guise of goodness and godliness. (I’m not saying that my personal experience can be generalized to everyone, but after spending more than four decades living as an undercover Asian in a White World, my experiences and perspectives are certainly more than negligible and no less than valid.)

I was raised going to White Church surrounded [indoctrinated] by White experience and culture. As long as I assimilated and internalized the perspectives and views of Whiteness, then ultimately my Asianness could be used for the purpose of supporting and upholding Whiteness.

My token presence within the White Church was not only tolerated but seen as a way to serve the appearance of “diversity,” so that the White Church could applaud itself and provide “proof” that it is indeed inclusive. (See, look, we have an Asian person here!) My Asian presence in the White Church allowed for White culture and perspectives (i.e., white superiority) to be perpetuated as the ideal, as the pinnacle of Christianity.

In other words, my presence in the White Church was acceptable, even desirable as it was an opportunity to convert me to Whiteness (under the guise of godliness), as long as I complied. My Asianness was negligible, maybe even entertaining at times, only as long as it posed no threat and caused no discomfort to the Whiteness that came to me for affirmation and confirmation.

However, the less “compliant” and “assimilated” that I have become as I have allowed my identity to become more reflective of all of who I am, the less acceptance and tolerance I have found. The more secure and the more outward in my identity as an Asian woman and as an unapologetic adoptee, the less secure my place has become within Churchianity, and specifically within White Churchianity.

In short, unapologetic Asian adoptee = very uncomfortable White Church.

In other words, they liked me so much better when I was the noble savage, when I was the quiet Asian girl who sat quietly and compliantly, supporting and upholding their Whiteness. The minute I began to challenge the status quo by voicing an alternative narrative, i.e., challenge their White Savior Complex built upon a belief in White superiority was when I no longer served their purposes and hence, was no longer eligible to be tolerated. They could no longer identify me as an accomplice to Whiteness, but rather I became a traitor. And hence, I became a threat.

* * *

I have come to conclude all of this based not on a sudden whim or convenient caprice, but based on personal, tangible experiences over the years. Rather than any single event, it is a lifetime, a collective culture of both passive and active repression, invalidation, negligence, condescension, dismissal, and the like by the White Church, whether by leadership or members, of the reality of my daily life as an adopted person of color that has led me to this place. Furthermore, I have also witnessed both overt and covert racialist practices within White Church openly and unapologetically perpetrated by White leadership and carried out by White members.
While these practices and behaviors can take on many forms or manifestations, ultimately, in my relationships within the White Church, I have experienced the culmination of the fragility of Whiteness. In particular, it has increasingly reached a tipping point as Trump has risen to power.

Despite sincere efforts to salvage and preserve my connection to the White Church, the era of Trump has forced me to come to terms with the reality that White Church is no longer a safe or healthy place for me to be. I have witnessed and experienced just how unsustainable my presence is within a Church that is blind to the reality of People of Color. There are churches that I once attended at which friends of mine are still a part, and I cringe when I hear about the way the perspectives and concerns of people of color are being dismissed, silenced, ignored, and forced to submit to the fragility of Whiteness.

But ultimately, I realize that White Church has not changed in the era of Trump, but rather I have changed. I know now, as I emerge from my stupor, that White Church has always been this way, and it only becomes increasingly so under the current regime. In the era of Trump, the White Church falls deeper into a coma of Whiteness, while I continue to awaken and shed the Whiteness that was thrust upon me.

As I continue to awaken, and as I stated above, the White Church has increasingly become a source of burden and dread, because it is a place where the experiences and perspectives that define who I am as a person of color and as a transracial adoptee are fundamentally neglected, dismissed, and rejected. But again, it has always been this way. There has never been a place for me within the White Church, beyond being subjugated to uphold Whiteness.

As I expressed above, I have learned over time that Whiteness, and in particular “good, Christian” Whiteness cannot handle being challenged or made uncomfortable. If you dare to challenge it or make it uncomfortable then the deflective tool and manipulation of false victimhood will manifest in the form of the ever-flowing, eternal fount of White tears to shut you down and accuse you of perpetrating some terribly hateful act upon their Whiteness--simply by doing nothing more than expressing your reality as a person of color.

And it is that very fact that sums up why I cannot actively choose to remain within the White Church--by doing nothing more than simply expressing my reality as a person of color (and as an adopted person of color), I am perceived as a threat to the White Church. It is a place where I am not permitted to express my reality as an adopted person of color without experiencing backlash.

Hence, now that I am an adult with a choice, I choose to no longer subject myself to being marginalized by a church that is supposed to be the paragon of love simply for sharing the experiences that make me who I am.

* * *

While my friends who are not Christians are vexed by why I would continue to associate with people within the Church, my friends who are (White) Christians border on viewing me as somewhere along a spectrum between ingratitude and secularism to heresy and lunacy. Both sides view me as in need of rehabilitation.

While I don’t necessarily want to be in the place that I am, I do not see myself as in need of rehabilitation. (If anything, the Church is need of rehabilitation.) But I do see myself as in need of grace, patience, and compassion, not because I’ve gone all apostate, but because I need time to work through real, valid experiences that have essentially taught me that who I am is not valued within the White Church.

Ultimately, the era of Trump has finally forced me to be honest with myself. To ask myself, why am I still here? Why do I continue to try to make a place for myself in a Church that obviously values its Whiteness over almost everything else, including the Jesus they claim to follow?

When I asked myself this recently, I realized that I am not still here, or rather, there. And that I have not been for quite some time.

Some would accuse me of giving up. Rather, I see that I am choosing to move on. To what exactly? To be honest, I don’t know. But what I do know is that I’m done trying to make a space for myself in a Church that has never valued me beyond its own agenda and need for affirmation.

Some would view me as one who has become “radicalized” or “apostate” in my thinking. But again, that interpretation of my perspective is through the lens of Whiteness.

Why is it so radical that, I, a person who was born Korean, would return to and begin to cultivate my origins as an adult? Why is it so radical that I would grow up to question the White American version of Churchianity after experiencing consistent repression, marginalization, racism, and rejection at the whims of White Christians? Why am I apostate for allowing myself to be Asian?

It’s only apostate to those who subscribe to the ethnocentric doctrine of American Whiteness.

Rather, you should be asking yourself, why is Whiteness the standard by which all others and all things are measured? You should be asking yourself, why do White Americans think they have a monopoly on understanding Christianity? You should be asking why am I expected to wholly forsake my Asian origins in favor of Whiteness?

But understand this--while I increasingly disavow the label of Christian, and in particular the White Church, I am not disavowing Jesus. Rather I am disavowing the Whiteness that was forced upon me before I was old enough to know I had a choice. It is not that I am wholly rejecting that part of me which is White American, but rather I am rejecting that part of Whiteness that would have me forsake my Korean origins. I am rejecting that part of Whiteness which cannot conceive or understand, therefore cannot accept the whole of who I am.

And I am moving on from the White Church, because I cannot thrive as an authentic human being surrounded by such stifling expectations of blind compliance and submission to Whiteness. I am moving on because as an adopted person of color, my story and experience have been treated as valuable only when its has served to affirm the superiority and sacrifice of White Saviorism.

It is no longer the Whiteness of the White Church that I need or want or seek. Rather I want and seek Jesus and his people--they are my safe place. Because ultimately, Jesus’s Church is not a place. Rather his Church is his people. And his people are those who love as he loves.

So, of course, I am still going to love those within the White church, even the ones who reject my Asianness and my unapologetic adopteeness. And I am committed to loving even those who would treat me as though they are my enemies. But loving doesn’t always mean I have to surround myself in a room filled with people who fundamentally have no desire to connect, engage, or understand. There comes a time when you just gotta shake the dust off your shoes and move on.

Sometimes, loving means continuing to speak the truth, even when nobody likes it. Sometimes, loving means being unapologetically authentic, because loving your neighbor as yourself starts with knowing and being true to yourself.

I don’t know where I am going from here. I don’t know that I will ever find for what I am searching. But I do know that it’s not here. And it’s not there.

I do believe that it is somewhere beyond. Beyond what I can see, and perhaps beyond what I can reach in this lifetime.

All I can do at this point is be true. Be true in the love that I know and continue to seek.

I said it above, and I will say it again…

White Church, I don’t despise you. It’s just time to stop trying to fit into your tiny White box. There’s a whole wide world out there full of beautiful, diverse people. Who love and want to be loved.

I hope you find your way out of your dark slumber.

Until, then, farewell...not forever, but for now.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Deception and Deceit Fraudulent Adoption Scams

I still can't accept or prepare for my own reaction if someone mentions a completely innocent comment. One thing that really amazes me is how strict auhorities has become these days- scared to lose their job, afraid that they might do something that isn't accepted by the respected European country where I was raised.Lately it seems there has been even more restrictions to prevent a secondary person to order and retrieve items in other peoples names. That's comforting yet disturbing and ironic to me--- since my own adoption never would have happened if it wasn't for the fact that my maternal grandmother decided to sign the consent form that abolished my birth parents parental rights, placing me in the care of the state. A blood relative forged my birth father's signature , technically the document was signed by him. 

It's ironic that people generally are so scared of identity fraud that the nation or most Western nations has been forced to issue even stricter laws when the thing you would assume would be the most important thing of all has little to no protection. Why is material things valued higher than a human being ... Once again I get this airie feeling that adoptees oftentimes are considered to be equal to mere items--- sometimes adoptees seems to be worth even less. 

No matter how much I wish this never happened; it happened to me and I'm probably no the first one nor the last one. Until Korea changes their laws to be more strict to make it less plausible to commit fraud I think that this will continue to happen. Families will be split for several years sometimes for a lifetime. 

Since Korea's official language are Hangul it means that even though a person's name may be writtn both in Hangul and in the phonetic version. People are still able to sign documents easily without having to remember how they sign it. As long as a document is signed it seems to be legally valid. 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Twice the Loss

Do you think it is selfish for a single woman to choose to pursue single adoptions assuming that she lacks a partner. Is it still in the best interest of the adoptee to become this prospective adoptive mother's child ? I'm not question or douting if single women loves their adopted children or not.


Adopting a child as a single mother means that you refuse the child a father figure altough an adopted child is likely to still have many male role models. Not only do you risk denying a child the right to have a father you also remove them from a culture and most likely at least one birth parent.

I think society underestimates the influence and importance that a father has on a child. I don't doubt that same sex parents should be any less capable of raising a family. Gender does not determine suitability yet at least give an adopted child the security of having two parents instead of one.

Adopted children are the only children that legally could have only one parent or legal guardian. While I also believe that not all biological parents make good parents adopting a child as a single parent are not an easy task that one should take lightly. It's not like getting a new pet or houseplant it requires dedication, effort and time.

If anything was to happen to the single mother, who will become the legal guardian if there are no other parent? What if there are no relatives to the single mother that would agree to raise someone else adopted child. Would that not be selfish ?

I tend to applaud single parents that raises their own biological children because they have no choice.

Everything is relative and there is no perfect parent just as there are no perfect people. Anyone who claims the opposite is disillusioned.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Are we mainstream?

“What do you think about This Is Us?”

“Have you seen the movie, Lion?”

As an activist for adoptee rights, this is a question I often hear. 

Honestly, I watch in silence because the pain is too much to share. Instead, I sit and sob, as the narratives wash over me. It feels cathartic. I feel validated. Adoptees are moving into the mainstream.

My life is not Randall’s or Saroo’s. But theirs uplifts me and gives me hope. Our narrative lines curve and intersect. It’s a dance … a dance of possibilities.

I have boycotted the Oscars for a while, but I may need to make an exception this year. So many movies with actors of color and an adoptee narrative. 

It. Feels. Fucking. Good.

Share with me how you feel about these mainstream stories of transracial adoptees. Use #ImTransracial on Twitter. I look forward to hearing your thoughts too.

Feminist columnist, Rosita González is a transracial, Korean-American adoptee. She is married to a Brit and is a mother to two multiracial children. Rosita was adopted in 1968 at the age of one through Holt International. Her road has been speckled with Puerto Rican and Appalachian relatives and her multiracial sister, the natural child of her adoptive parents. While quite content with her role as a “Tennerican,” her curiosity has grown recently as her children explore their own ethnic identities. She considers herself a lost daughter, not only because of the loss of her birth family, but also because of the loss of her adoptive parents. After the death of her adoptive father, she discovered that he had fathered a Korean son two years before her birth; she is searching for him. Rosita recently returned from a five-month stint in Seoul, South Korea, with her family and their three cats. Follow her adventures as an adoptee on her blog, mothermade.