Saturday, December 13, 2014

Social and Biologial Heritage

Small note and warning this post may come across as more pro adoption friendly, which might be true judge for yourself but please no negative comments or remarks about it. If you have been a regular follower of my posts or a reader of LD then you should know my viewpoint of this matter. 

As an adult adoptee, I recall many situations when I was reminded of my different ethnic heritage-my biolgical roots. Sometimes, the strangest things can act as a trigger, but I might disappoint you now this post will not deal with subject of biological roots (which obviously is something I don't share with my adoptive parents.) I still refer to them as mum and dad even now as an adult and young woman.
Sleep , sleep my beloved, without worry without fear,although my soul does not sleep, although I do not rest.- Gabriela Mistral, The Sad Mother
Man being blind ignores that where you step, you leave , A blossom of bright light, that  where you have placed your bleeding little souls a redolent tuberose grows- Gabriela Mistral, Tiny Feet
I have a soft spot for languages and poetry and the poems sad mother as well as tiny feet I've chosen as tribute for my birth mother. The mother who I never got call mum... also to all women and mothers who lost a child to adoption...

I won't lie that it has been difficult and painful at times to grow up in Western Europe as an Asian woman and adult adoptee, but for this particular post I reserve the right not say so much about it. 

My father and mother or 아버지 (Oemoni)and 어머니(Abeji) are instead something I prefer to call my biological parents, my Korean birth parents. I know I inherited a lot of things from them each-equally as much. I know who I resemble and I is for sure my mother's daughter. Biology is important, I know that there's the risk of passing down diseases and other medical factors that might become more or less important. There's also the very important thing of finding your own voice and identity as a teenager. You (might) want to know who your parents were/are or simply find out what they look like and the reason for why you were abandoned and adopted...

But if you ask me there are two equally as important heritages you might be influenced or formed by. The first one the obvious one, I think I already have covered. The second one is the social heritage which you may get or find in your adoptive parents and the environment you're ultimately raised in. 

Remember my previous post called Tracing Your Roots?

I have always been intrigued by genealogy and I did a small genealogy research project in High School -on my mum's side wich seemed the most captivating at the time. I feel there's more than simply DNA that tells you who you are. My mum and I are not related by biology- on paper it's only by the law. But I disagree here, I got my social heritage as well from my mum and dad but also as important as the environmental input. My mum and dad raised me and they are still supporting me emotionally.

Generally Swedes say that your ethnicity doesn't matter, if you are integrated into society. Yet when it comes to genealogy and tracing ancestors it seems to be the only thing that matters. If you're of German decent, Scandinavian or have Swedish American emigrants that means you have distant relatives in America, And of course if you happen to find valid proof a royal linage then that matters maybe even more. I confess that I too find this intriguing yet I also dislike this-even if it is reality. Most people might not realize how hurtful genealogy can be and yes it triggered things for me as well.

Once not too long ago dad made a to him valid comment "you think you're special because you're a Korean" implying that I really is no extraordiary at all. While the opposite in fact is displayed, celebrated and encouraged in genealogy research which makes me feel like there is this double standard.

As an adult adoptee of Korean heritage I am proud of my ethnicity and my culture. When society tries to put me into a special box implying that I'm not Korean now and that I should try to embrace my new life ; and accept that I don't live in Korea. It makes me ever so determined to hold on to Korea's culture even more.

True, I am not an ethnic Swede and will never become one nor would I like to be one . At the same time because I was raised in Sweden by Swedes where I spent almost my entire life I have inherited everything but ethnicity from my Swedish parents , which legally are my parents. The brother who I grew up with, he is the only sibling that knows me like my birth siblings should have. Is he not my brother just because we're only siblings by legal creation ? He knows me better than any of my birth siblings do to this day.

This is my story seen from my perspective which does not mean every adoptee agrees with me or that all the authors at LD share my opinions or outlook on adoption , life and more. Coincidentally this post will be published on a big traditional Swedish day .

Until recently mum had believed it was on her father's side that they were related to the Walloons from Belgium, France, Germany or the Netherlands. But it wasn't until very recently that I learned the truth-her family didoriginate from the Walloon people -not on her father's side (my maternal grandfather) no, on her mother's side (my maternal grandmother). Actually my mum's side of relatives consists of people working in mines and mills while my dad's side has proved to be mostly farmers. This wasn't really a lie- if you think about it's very easy for information that passes on to generations upon generations to misunderstand things along the way. That's what I think happened here, because it's not a untrue or a lie since the rumor did infact have some substance in it.  I am so happy that I was able to learn this so quick since my maternal grandmother is really old and with it her memory sometimes fails her. She's extremely forgetful these days, unfortunately but she's still here and sometimes I get a glimbse of her real self.

There is a saying that you have to know your roots before you know yourself. That is beautiful words and I wish they could be true. Sadly it seems those words are not meant for adoptees-adoptees are not supposed to want to know their roots or who gave birth to them. They should not be interested in trying to learn their original mother tongue, want to know more about their birth culture and especially not want to reunite with their birth parents or family. Because adoptees life before adoption is not valid, accepted or recognized as important, no they are supposed to adapt into a new culture and slowly bond with mere strangers they hopefully will learn and accept as their new parents.

I learned that once I decided to do some genealogy research on my materal grandmother's side. At times I have been almost more interested in these forlorn people than my mum or grandmother has. Every new discovery of a new name in the family tree has made me want to continue in my research to see how far I possibly could get.

One thing I never anticipated was how grandmum would react on my findings. She insisted she needed to pay me for the research and time I spent on doing this revisit to past times. It's like she's thinking it's her relatives -almost forgetting that her daughters are related and therefore interested as well. Again, I found this to be both hurtful and odd and I have not dared to ask my grandmother about this. Perhaps she only wanted to pay for the expenses assuming it must have been a timeconsuming and strenious task...With respect to her age and the limited time she may have left I suppose I never may know why she reacted like that.... My grandma has two daughters; my mum and and a slightly younger daughter, my single aunt who has not had children of her own. She is too old now to become a mother by biology as well as adoption. My brother and I are their only grandchildren.

And I don't consider my mum and dad's family trees to be their family instead I see it as our family tree because I have become a member and part of their family. Life isn't simply just black and white, sometimes it's grey shades in between other times it actually is as black or white as it appears. Life's not simple. Yes, I have two heritages a social heritage and a biological one and even though I found my birth family and have been in reunion with them for many many years. I still don't know who I am, for reasons that I will not share openly or frankly I am still confused searching for my own identity. Hoping, attempting and trying to find the missing piece that will make me complete...