Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I'm still alive!

After a few days of being stuck in bed with the flu I'm feeling much better now! While I was sick I watched four documentaries.

I Am A Promise, which is about a low income elementary school in Philladelphia. Really good and very eye opening.

My Date with Drew, which is about a guy trying to get a date with Drew Barrymore in 30 days. Cutest documentary EVER. Seriously, I watched it twice.

Thin, which follows several women in an eating disorder clinic. Really good, but also sad.

Last but not least I finally got to watch a documentary that I've been waiting to see for a while called Adopted. It follows two stories. One of them is a 30 year old Korean adoptee who is struggling with her adoption and her identity and the other story is of a family getting ready to start their adoption journey by adopting a baby from China.

I've been really excited to see the documentary because I've been really interested in the experiences of Korean adoptees, but truthfully the documentary left me sad and frustrated more than anything.

I've done a lot of research lately on adult Korean adoptees and it is hard to hear that a lot of times they struggle more than you would expect. It's got to be hard when Caucasians see you as Asian but Asians don't feel that you're Asian enough, being raised in a Caucasian home. From the research I've done there seems to be this sense of never quite fittting in to either group.

That seemed to be something that the woman in the documentary was struggling with. My heart hurt for her, especially because her family wasn't very supportive of her struggles. They sort of had the attittude of "we adopted you as an infant 30 years ago and you've been raised as a member of our family. Why are you still talking about your adoption?" They didn't really want her to keep bringing it up.

I wonder if internationally adopted children now are going to struggle any less than those who were adopted 20-30 years ago, due to the change in attitude about adoption? It seems that 30 years ago adoption was less talked about, and in some cases children were never told they were adopted at all (although that's obviously not possible in an Asian adoption!). I don't think that parents did the kind of research that they're doing now about attachment issues and racial issues and the struggles of adopted children. I would like to think that adoptive parents are better informed and more aware these days than they were 30 years ago.

For instance, the adoptive parents in the documentary didn't travel to Korea, had no desire to, didn't know a single thing about Korea from some of the misinformed comments the mother made and when the daughter asked the mother about her birth mother the mother said she didn't care about the birth mother because she had nothing to do with anything. That was shocking to me. The parents didn't seem to have any interest in talking about adoption and I think that's part of the reason why the woman struggled so much with her identity. She needed answers. She needed someone to understand what she was going through.

I have to hope that life will be a little easier for Clarissa because our attitude about adoption is so different. I care very much about Clarissa's birth mother and I will always be willing to discuss that subject with her if she wants to talk about it. I'm willing to bring as much Korean culture into our family as she wants. If she wants to learn more about where she came from I'll fly her back to Korea and let her see for herself. Adoption will never be a taboo subject in our home. I don't feel jealous of her birth mother or ashamed to be adopting or any of that. Adoption is a beautiful thing that should be celebrated. I'm baffled by people who adopt and don't feel that way. It does such a disservice to their child. The documentary just left me sad and frustrated for the woman who never did get understanding from her parents. I've heard similar stories from other Korean adoptees.

I don't know, I think this is one of those cases where I've over researched. I've taken the struggles of every Korean adoptee that I've read about so personally and I want to somehow fix it all for them. Then I start to worry that Clarissa is going to go through all these things and then I start to worry that we're not doing the right thing. I start to worry that we're going to ruin Clarissa for life because we'll be raising her in a caucasian home.

In the documentary there was one scene that made me really sad. The woman went to a Korean restaraunt with her dad and she pointed out a group of Koreans who were eating at another booth. She said "Look at them. They're real Koreans. I look like them but I have no connection to them." The dad totally didn't get what her issue was. I just wanted to give her a hug.

When I come down from that panic attack I have to remind myself that we're only trying to give Clarissa the best life given her circumstances. Being an adoptee in Korea isn't pleasant. If she found a Korean family to adopt her she would most likely be raised to be ashamed of her adoption. Adoptees have a harder time finding work in Korea, they often have a harder time getting married and they're generally looked at as second class citizens. That's not a good life for anyone. If that's the alternative for Clarissa, I want her here with us where she will be loved and cherished and raised to believe that being adopted isn't something to be ashamed of, it's something that makes her extra special. I don't think that I can make her immune to struggles about her identity, but I hope that I can at least be understanding and help her get through it.

Anyway, I probably shouldn't have watched that documentary when I didn't feel well. My mental state was already kind of low. In my heart I know that we're doing the right thing for Clarissa, given her circumstances, but I think as mothers we always have this guilt or worry that we're somehow not doing every single thing we can for our kids though, you know? I just want my kids to be happy, well adjusted and to know that they're loved. I hope that Clarisssa feels that growing up.

So then last night I had a dream. I dreamed that we got our referral and suddenly they handed Clarissa to us the same day. I kept saying "but I didn't even get to talk to her foster mother!" lol

Then we brought her home and I was walking around with her and we somehow walked into a weird funhouse maze. It was all dark and scary and we got lost and I was trying to hold on to her but I couldn't figure out how to get us out. I guess it doesn't take a genius to figure out that dream, lol.

I guess I kind of am walking into the scary unknown with Clarissa and is going to be hard at times. I worry way too much about what the future holds. I'm the kind of person that likes to think I can plan my entire life out in advance and when I realize that I can't I start to panic. I like to be in control of things and admitting that there are some things in life that I can't control is hard for me.

We'll get through it though. I guess I can look at that documentary as a "what not to do" manual and learn an important lesson from it. But I also think that I'm going to take a break from the research for a while and put some happier thoughts in my head. Like that fact that we're NUMBER TWO and probably within a matter of weeks I'm going to be looking at a photo of our sweet Clarissa. I absolutely can not wait.


Janice and Jessica said...


I can certainly understand your concern and I think you are dealing with it in a very good way.

I had a cousin that was adopted and everyone in the family knew about it except him. He did not find out until he had a background check for a job and was told by his prospective employer. I thought that his adoptive parents did him a diservice by not telling him sooner. I think all in all he handled it ok though.

However, I have personally known adoptees though that always struggled with the where did I come from and why would someone give me up. I guess in a way sometimes you just never know.

I do follow a blog called Confessions of a CF Husband and his wife Tricia is an adoptee who last year had a double lung transplant due to cystic fibrosis. She seems to be very open and honest about her thoughts from an adoptees point of veiw. You can read about Nate, Tricia and their baby girl Gwyneth here at Take a look, I think you will really, really like this blog.

I can't wait either until you have your baby girl in your arms.


Julie said...

Glad you are feeling a little better.

Your blog is the first one I click on my blogroll in anticipation for "the post". I am so excited for you and your family.

kristalina said...

There is a great book (you may have mentioned it before, so I apologize if you know about it already) called When You Were Born in Korea.
It is really beautiful.