When I look at my mother I don’t see a physical reflection of myself because of foreign adoption (I’m Korean & she’s Irish, Scottish & Norwegian), but we are mother & daughter. She is all I know in terms of a mother, but I do have another family that is in Korea somewhere. I often think about the titles in our society…mother, daughter, friend, wife, president…you get the idea. The title automatically comes with meaning, expectations, responsibilities, etc. Even though my mother doesn’t look exactly like me (or at all) she is my mother. Happy Mother’s Day mom.
Author Archives: jolynn9
Hello…it’s been ages & of course with Mother’s Day around the corner…I ended up back at Grinding up Stones. Thanks to everyone who keeps checking back on this blog & also who followed me to J & K’s Adventures.
I think it’s important to remember that most of the time young kids just want to know why the other person looks different. Kids usually don’t need long drawn out answers…just a basic explanation. Growing up I was called names and rude questions were asked, but I always seemed to handle it. My mom taught me to stand up for myself & have a basic answer ready, but also to be careful not to assume someone was being racist.
In my own experience…people are curious because I’m 5’8 1/2 & Korean. I still get asked (about once a month) where I’m originally from etc. For me…part of this whole experience is being comfortable in my own skin…so when strangers stop and ask me questions about why I’m so tall or why my skin is so light for being Korean…I just say the truth. Granted…if I’m really annoyed then sometimes my answer isn’t as patient. However, in my experience I’ve learned people usually aren’t intending to be rude. So…I tend to look at it more like a chance to educate them.
When kids are young…I believe education is the key. For example, my daughter always has some type of “cultural celebration” each year in school. This gives me a chance to go into her classroom and teach the kids about Korea. This has been extremely successful each year and has helped K. be proud of her heritage, which I give equal time to teach about Germany…K’s part German.
I see your point and that could be an option, but he may or may not want to ever meet his birth parents. In any case you would have already done the “leg work” so to speak. As long as the birth parents knew that it was up to your son to ultimately decide if he wanted a relationship or not…I don’t really see any issue. I have friends on both sides…some have conducted searches and other are not interested at all.
For my own experience…my search didn’t begin with my parents initiating that conversation. However, I always knew that was an option open to me & they’d be supportive. They never pushed and I am glad they didn’t. I think I would have felt strange and uncomfortable if they kept bring up that possibility. As you might have read…this year I finally did decide to conduct a search, but I’m in my early thirties. It took me a LONG time to come to that decision and it wasn’t easy. I personally view my adoptive parents as my parents and it has taken me a while to sort of wrap my brain around the idea that I have this other mother that for whatever reason couldn’t/didn’t want me. I…personally have appreciated the space my parents have given me in allowing me to decide when/what/and if I even wanted to do a search.
1) My name has part of my Korean name mixed with American. I like my name and feel comfortable with it. Growing up it would have been harder if I had my Korean name. For example, in my daughter’s class she has a boy with a Korean name. Some of the kids have a hard time pronouncing it and other make fun of it. I know it would have been hard for me growing up if they used my Korean name. What’s interesting to me now is how people expect me to have a more Asian sounding name vs. an American name. Many people are not only surprised when they first meet me and I don’t speak with an accent, but that my name is just JoLynn.
2) Interesting question…but I have no idea what my life would be like. People automatically assume that it would have been worse or horrible if I wasn’t adopted and brought to the US, but who’s to say. However, it also doesn’t mean I haven’t had a good life here with family & friends that love me. I do tend to think a lot about having Korean sisters & brothers out in the world and not being able to find them. What if they need something? I cannot do anything about it because I don’t know who or where they are. I also recognize that I am missing a part of my culture or maybe a part of myself that I cannot recover at this point in time.
I totally agree with the comments left by Juli & Heather and only have a bit to add. I also had my set answers that were taught to me by my parents. To this day…people have asked some intrusive & rude questions about my family. Questions I would never dream of asking them, but they still continue to ask me. I do have my “blanket” answers. I have to laugh at one of the examples Juli gave about being asked about “being married to your husband” because it happens to me & my dad when we go out alone!
I believe it’s imperative as adoptive parents to help your child through all the questions & learn to speak up for them when needed. They will learn through your example & how you decide to handle each situation. You really do become a sort of advocate for your child.
In my opinion…I believe it should be up to your daughter to ultimately decide on what type of relationship she would like to have with her birth mother. I totally understand that you want to do everything possible in order to facilitate that at some point, but I would apply caution to the degree you go about trying to make any contact with her birth mother. I agree with Juli that leaving a letter in her file is fine, but it should be her choice in my opinion.
Looking back to when I was younger…if I would have had contact with my birth mother it would have been too confusing for me & personally I am glad I didn’t. I don’t really recall ever wanting to search for my birth mother when I was very young. For example, I have a friend that had constant contact with her birth mother while she was growing up here in the U.S. To say it was stressful is a major understatement. She was constantly feeling bad about her life here in the U.S., had feelings of not being loyal to her adopted family & when she would talk to two of her siblings living back in Korea she would always end up crying & stressed out. She had this sense of being pulled in two directions. I’m only relating one person’s experience and I have heard of others where it’s the total opposite, but I know for myself it would have been really confusing to have had contact with my birth mother until I was ready.
However, I recently conducted a search for my birth mother & I’ve waited until I was 30 to do so. I still have mixed feelings about what it would actually be like finding my birth mother. I totally agree with Juli that it should be a personal/natural progression for your child.
Thanks for reading the Parents’ Corner. I do believe it might have been easier if I did have another sibling from Korea for obvious reasons, but I have a sister that I love. Good luck in whatever you decide.
I have to admit I never gave it much thought when I was younger. I personally didn’t need/want all the details until I was older. I don’t believe my mom actually told me the specifics until I asked and I think that was around Jr. High. My mom was always honest, but she waited until I was old enough to process everything. By the time I started to wonder…my bond with my mom was strong and I just wanted to know more specific details.
I won’t lie and say I don’t have any abandonment issues because I know I do. I look at this whole adoption thing as a long road I’m on. Sometimes I will be going down the road just fine and other times I hit snow and hail and all of these “issues” come up.
I sometimes feel really sad to think my mom just left me in a basket for whoever to find me. I wonder who found me and what did they think? I wonder if I cried or if people just passed me by. It’s a lot to process even now, but my mom was always honest and positive. She never said anything negative about my biological mother or her choices, but never made excuses either.
I have to say my mom is rather positive in general…so whenever I would have “adoption issues” she would address them and move on. Sometimes that was good and other times not so much, but overall her attitude has always been more about how blessed she was that I came to her. So she never really focused on the details of my abandonment so much. We’ve talked about it, but it has been something more I have dealt with on my own.