My identity has never been a mystery and yet has always been intangible, unattainable. I sometimes think of my life as a collection of individual books, rather than chapters, as my story seems so distinctly marked by specific moments.
I was born to two Korean parents who immigrated to the United States. My early formative years were spent in a chaotic whirlwind of moves across the United States to Korea and back. Much of these disruptions are attributed to challenges that are not entirely well known to me. I spent some two years in Korea, attending school, and generally being a typical preschool aged child. I can recall being quite the rage at school for being the only one to know the English alphabet song.
When I came back to the States, I did so to live with my birth father and his new wife. Coming back to the US was not without it’s challenges since I had lost what little English I had acquired before moving to Korea. My time with them was short-lived as he died when I was six. I went on to live with various members of my paternal family until I was placed for adoption at the age of nine.
So the next book began.
I was adopted by two white, American parents living in the southeast. It was quite the jarring experience to shift from being surrounded by my Korean family, much of the time immersed in my culture, to having little to no reflection of myself in my school, friends, or even at home. Admittedly, my experience and trauma in early childhood formed me into a rather compliant child and adolescent.
I did little in the way of exploring my culture for not wanting to stand apart any more than I already did in every aspect of my life. My parents would make occasional comments suggesting I attend the local Korean Saturday school or whatnot, but I expressed little interest, if not absolute disdain, in the idea.
I had sporadic contact with my birth family through the remainder of my childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. So much of our history and our stories complicated our relationship in ways I still don’t think I, or they, fully comprehend. In the beginning, it stemmed from their belief of what was in my best interest, to allow me to fully acclimate to my new home. After, I can’t say for sure. Perhaps it was one sided, likely it was on both.
All the while, I had no interest whatsoever in finding my birth mother, who had moved back to Korea after my parents divorced when I was about two. Another complicated aspect of all this.
So much of all these various layers are laden with emotions and has taken me many years to process and untangle and I continue to do so.
All this led to a journey that began painfully slow some 11 years ago and has brought me here to this blog. Through this platform, I’ll share more about my story and journey of rediscovering my identity as well as other aspects of myself like recipes and my foray into cooking and diving into homeschooling my two children.