Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Kimchi Thoughts

Isn't it funny what brings you back to the blog. It is amazing how the addition of our newest has consumed my time and thoughts. However, tonight I was having kimchi I hopped over to write them down.

My sister and I were recently having a discussion on kimchi. Her boyfriend does not like the smell of kimchi. As a whole, I like kimchi, but I had to agree that I wasn't that fond of the smell that it leaves in my, I just make sure I eat it when I have it. Anyhow, during our conversation, my oldest son had to add his two cents (as usual). "I don't like kimchi," he told us. This is true. I have a picture of him trying kimchi for the first time and it's priceless. I think we teased him about being very "un-Korean-like" or something like that and he just made faces at us and ran off to play.

So, nearly two weeks later (both boys are asleep), I find myself with time to think and for some reason the kimchi conversation popped into my head. From there, I started to think about when I started liking kimchi. Then I started thinking about when I tried kimchi for the first time. I can vaguely remember going to a Korea-American picnic when I was an early teen and refusing to try it and my next clear memory of kimchi was when I was well into adulthood. In fact, I think it was shortly before we adopted our oldest son. Someone once told me that I must like kimchi because of my Korean genes. Really?

He tried kimchi, I remind myself. Why must he like it? My mother's family is Irish. Does that mean she has to know how to dance the Irish jig? Well, actually, she does know how to dance the Irish jig...that's not the point. I like kimchi. I hate mushrooms. I love pasta. Am I Italian? Or, am I just hungry and in desperate need of sleep?

Bottom line, just because we were born in Korea does not mean we have to love all things Korean. I'm going to guess that even people who do live in Korea don't love all things Korean. So, no more "un-Korean-like" statements from me. He's who he needs to be and that's what is important.

Monday, May 24, 2010

What We Don't Know

I had forgotten how busy a small person can keep you. I had thought that I would be able to write more while I was off on leave (due to the arrival of my son), but I soon came to realize that time is not something I have to spare. I had become spoiled by my six year old son's independence.

Today, however, I found myself thinking about what I don't know. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot that I don't know, but that's what makes me human. Fortunately, my thoughts were a little more grounded in the adoption world and didn't take me out to all the other things that I can't possibly know.

I do know basics about our newest arrival. I know basics about his birth parents and I have medical history since he was born. I know that he had a foster mother who loved him and took very good care of him - you can see it in the pictures and the video. I know how many bottles he had every day and if he took naps.

What I don't know speaks volumes. I don't know exactly what his birth mother was thinking when she made the decision to place him up for adoption. I don't know if his foster mother held him when he woke up at night or if she patted him on the back and sang him a song. I don't know about his extended Korean family or if they even know that he is here. I don't know if he has his birth mother's eyes or his birth father's hair.

I realize that I have more information for both of my children than my parents had. For me, they didn't even have my exact birth date. They knew the basics about what had happened since I had been found, but they had no names to think about when they thought about my birth parents or information about their families.

So, I am happy that I have as much as I do, but I also find myself dwelling on what I don't know. Every time my son can't do something, I wonder if it's because no one asked him to do it before or if it's common in his birth parents' family. It's funny, I didn't go here with my first son. Perhaps, with him, I had too many other concerns. This is new for me and interesting.

With both of my boys, I had hoped that they would come home with a letter from their birth mothers (or birth fathers). Our social worker had told us that it is happening more often. I know that contact scares some adoptive parents, but I keep thinking about all of the things that I don't know and I wish I had it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Anything is Possible

My family went to a University of Michigan baseball game today and it served to remind me of the power of positive thinking. Michigan was down 0-14 and the game had hardly started. The odds looked terrible. Our first Michigan baseball game and it looked like we would go home disappointed.

Little by little, Michigan's score started to increase and the other team's score stayed at 14. By the seventh inning, you could see the question in people's eyes. Could they do it? In the ninth inning, Michigan tied the game 14-14 and the impossible had just become possible. A home run hit in the tenth inning and Michigan wins 15-14.

No this has nothing to do with adoption, but it served as a reminder to me that anything is possible. I hope that I can hold onto this game and, when things are taking a turn for the worst, I can use this game as a catalyst to drive me forward. I wonder what was said to the Michigan players when the score was 0-14? It must have been inspiring. For my part, I will just remind myself that 0-14 can become 15-14, even if you have to wait until the last inning.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Adoption Language

I will start this post by telling everyone that I am not someone who is overly sensitive when people outside the adoption community use terms that can be considered negative. We all hear them...words like "real parents" and "you couldn't have your own child" pop up with regularity. I am much more likely to take offense at the tone then I am to the words. A lot of times people say the words without any malicious intent. Quite frankly, if I took offense every time I heard them I would be a very unhappy and bitter person. So, I listen to the tone and temper my response accordingly.

With that said, I ran across another adoptive parent the other day. I approached her (which is not normal for me at all) and explained that I was adopted and asked if her son was too. He was and we talked. She proceeded to tell me that she "couldn't have children of her own" and they had turned to adoption. I understood the intent. I don't believe that those words meant she doesn't love her son. However, I couldn't help but wince a little at the words. Quite frankly, I was so astounded to hear it from an adoptive parent that I couldn't even form a response. What if her son heard her say that she couldn't have "one of her own" and misinterpreted the statement?

I think that it is important that adoptive parents do their research. Our agency gave us article after article about what phrases can be considered negative. We went to classes and we learned it again. I'll be one of the first to say that I think some of the "positive" adoption language is bordering on "sappy"; however, it's still important to be educated. While I have quite a bit of patience for the non-adoption world, I am afraid that I don't have much for those of us who are immersed in the culture. I am not worried that some random person or acquaintance will get the wrong idea. I am worried that the children will get the wrong idea.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

We Are All Different

Having a second adopted child has reminded me of a topic. I am reminded that we are all different. I have yet to meet another Korean adoptee who is just like me. There are four of us now in my family and we are all different. I can even see the twinkle of differences in the newest to join the family.

Sometimes, I think that we all forget those differences. Adoptive parents and Korean adoptees (myself included) share stories about how we grew up and how experiences affected us. However, everyone has different experiences and events that shape our lives.

I read stories by other adoptees and I am often upset by their conclusions. Their reactions will sometimes cast a shadow over my own experiences. The logical part of me knows that we are all different, but the illogical part of my brain still worries. Sometimes, I have been concerned that prospective adoptive parents use my experience as justification for their decision to adopt. My experiences alone cannot be the basis for a decision. The decision always has to be looked at from all possible angles. Awhile back, we received some news that I found unsettling, but worked through it with my husband. I told him, "I am hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst." I am covering all my bases.

Too often, though, I think that members of our adoption community are too tied up in their side only. They are not willing to look at the other side and consider that their way is not always the right way for everyone. Korean adoptees like myself who had positive experiences. Korean adoptees who did not have positive experiences. Adoptive parents who believe in sending their children to Korean schools. Adoptive parents who choose not to introduce the Korean culture to their children at all. We are all different and we will all make our mark on this world in our own way. Is it the right way? We'll find out.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Paperwork is Good?

Sometimes, I think that adoption paperwork is a plot against trees. Everytime I think I'm done, I'm printing out more papers to sign and mail back to one location or another. However, I print those papers without a second thought.

I know I've talked about it before, but it's high in my mind again because we're going through the process again. Recently, someone told me that they don't think it's fair that we have to jump through so many hoops to adopt when someone who chooses to have a child biologically doesn't.

Despite my frustration with the never ending forms, I still have to disagree with that statement. Being a parent is not easy. Why should becoming a parent be easy? If someone is able to make it through the endless months of paperwork, waiting, more paperwork, more waiting...they must really want to be a parent. Right? Okay, not always, but I would guess that many a parent has changed his/her mind somewhere in the process.

Perhaps if everyone had to "jump through hoops" before becoming a parent we would have less children waiting for homes.

So, I will swallow my complaints and complete my paperwork. I don't think I'll go as far as saying paperwork is good, but I will say that adoption should not be easy.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Welcome 2010

I am looking forward to 2010. 2009 was not my favorite year, but I like to remind myself that there are reasons for everything and I hope that the lessons have been learned. For sure, nothing will be the same.

The end of 2009 did bring new things. It brought us to a new spot in our second adoption. We received our referral for a little boy and now we are waiting for all of the various pieces to fall into place. I am doing my best not to become too excited. There are too many factors that have to happen and months to wait for a travel call. I know the process and I know that there are sudden pitfalls. After all, my parents had to go their congressman to get my visa completed. However, with the onset of the new year, I do finally feel like we are in the final countdown. It's a nice feeling.