Sunday, May 11, 2008

Being Comfortable

The Korean Students Association (KSA) at the University of Michigan hosts a children’s festival every year. We weren’t able to go last year, but this year I decided to go again. In fact, I invited my friend and her children to come along. My friend’s children have often accompanied us to events. It wasn’t as well organized this year, but I realized that it isn’t the glitz that is important…it’s the contact.

Growing up, I rarely saw large groups of Asian people or, for that matter, small groups of Asian people. When I was in a situation with a lot of Asians, I felt uncomfortable. I didn’t belong. What I realized this past week-end was that it was not the sense of belonging that I needed to give my son, it is instilling that sense of comfort that is important.

I don’t have a driving need to belong in the Asian community and I really don’t regret that I don’t feel like I belong there. The purpose of this post is that I am aware that some Korean adoptees do regret that they don’t belong and are desperately searching for that sense of belonging. I found that sense of belonging with my family and friends. Some adoptees have that, but require more.

Since I adopted my son, I have made an effort to attend more events and I realized at the KSA event that I had accomplished two very important things. First, my son is oblivious to the fact that it is different to be in a crowd of Asians and, second, my son’s non-Asian friends are also oblivious to the fact that is different to be in a crowd of Asians.

Truthfully, my son was just as fascinated to attend the German Festival last summer or to watch the African exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Art. What I’ve done is create a buffer zone that allows my son to choose for himself. I have no plans to force feed my son Korean culture. I would have spit it back in my parents’ face and, judging from my son’s level of stubbornness, I suspect he would do the same thing to me. However, if I do this right, I can give him the stepping stone to make his own choices in the future.

A side effect to this whole process is that the more often I attend these events with my son, the more comfortable I become as well. Keeping in mind, that group events make me nervous (no matter what they are about), I’m actually starting to relax a little. This just goes to show everyone that it’s never too late to learn new things.


Third Mom said...

I completely agree about reaching that level of comfort. It's worth it, too - now that my kids are older, I see how comfortable they are in Asian and Korean settings.

It sounds like things are good in your world!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for having a blog about being happy to be who you are. My husband and I got on the list for Korea in March and have been very excited;however, that excitement gets dampened when most of the blogs I read are written by adoptees that are mad they were adopted by a caucasian family. It is disheartening to feel as though my child will hate me b/c I have blond hair and blue eyes (which apparently makes me the devil to some bloggers). Reading your blog reinvigorates my enthusiasm towards our impending adoption. Thank you for pointing out that children should be exposed to all types of culture, not just force fed Korean culture as some would have instructed us to do. I look forward to your posts. Thank you again for allowing me to see that there are happy adoptees out there.

nikki said...

Very, very interesting!

We have just begun the process to adopt from Korea...we filled out our prelim. application and just got the green light to proceed with the formal application.
We have a daughter we adopted from China in 2005...I'll be back to follow along with you!