Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Control

Control. That word was repeated numerous times at KAAN (Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network Conference) a few weeks ago. I guess I always knew it deep down … that I had a freakish need for control. In the past, I phrased it as “anal retentiveness.”

I control many things in my adult life, and I enjoy the stability I feel with that control. If I control my life, there are no surprises … right?

Wrong. Everything about my adoption was not controlled by me. It was controlled by the Korean culture, the Korean government and Holt International.

As I grew up, I learned again that my life was out of my control. I couldn’t control the remarks or the ridicule from others. I couldn’t control my appearance, though I tried.

I tried to be more white; I tried to fashion an eyelid crease. I suppressed my Korean side and emphasized my place in a lower, middle class, Tennessee family. If I was going to be oppressed, I wanted it to be for an affliction that could be remedied. I wanted to regain control.

We all have those instances where we feel oppressed for many different things: our accent, our clothing, our socioeconomic status, our religious affiliation …

Please understand, I am not downplaying these things, but they are things that can be changed or hidden. I cannot hide my face, my eyes or my ochre skin.

Just like the woman on this train in Australia, I would not have been able to control the words of this racist woman. (Be warned there is foul language in this video. Extremely triggering.)



In the racist’s defense on the local news, she talks about criticism she has received in the past. She diverts attention from her remarks by using her hardships … work problems, money problems. Here I have started to understand that often when we are oppressed we are blind to the oppression of others, and we lash out.

Watching this footage was triggering. Her words and gestures brought back all those times where I had no control over what was said to me. My reaction was always to take the words, say nothing and then, silently slink off to a private place to cry. I have done that for years. Lately, my coping mechanism has changed. I learned this at the KAAN conference. When I feel out of control, I lash out at my family … possibly because I know they will still love me.

My daughter has asked when adoption will stop being the focus of my thoughts … when my frustration and misfired anger will stop. While I can never disassociate myself from my adoption, I recognized this in myself at KAAN and have returned determined.

I am resolute in channeling my outrage into change for their sake.