Archive for December, 2007

I’d like to unsubscribe, please.

The hardest part of cancer has been the tremendous internal contradiction between what and how I feel emotionally and what others expect me to feel. It’s taboo and no one really wants to know about what spins through my head, nevertheless hear me vocalize it. They’ll send in the social worker and even a shrink or two, but they will just sit and listen and take notes and offer a support group full of people I can’t understand. People who talk about “milestones” and “being changed forever, for the better.” If that doesn’t help, some small pills here and there. They’ll shrug it off, sweep it under the rug, and tell me it’s normal “considering.” So I have learned “cancer patient etiquette.” Ya know, the fake smile and the “oh I am feeling better today than yesterday” and how to appear “grateful.” It’s a very lonely process. Probably the most lonely I have ever felt… and I’m a KAD so I know lonely. Physically I have a lot of supporters and more so that are not physically around… no one wants to hear what I want to talk about and I don’t blame them one bit.

There is this voice. It’s mine. It wants to scream out in retched despair. “What’s this for??” she screams. “And what’s so bad about giving up, anyway?”

Who are you to say “be brave” and “hang in there” and “it will get better.” Who are you, but another clueless one? And no offense really. I mean no offense. But when can I decide, for me?

“That’s okay,” you may say, “I understand. This is natural.” Shrug, shrug… under the rug.

Give me back my body. With all her parts too. I’d like to unsubscribe, please. Unsubscribe me, because I am moving. And I’d like to plan that move, so that it goes just so, if anyone wants to hear. I have a few boxes to pack up and I’m worried about my cat. Let me snap a few pictures first, shake a few hands, and send off a few apologies too. Tie up some loose ends and go over my check list. Is there still time for a short vacation?

It’s only normal…. considering.  Shrug, shrug… under the rug.

December 29, 2007 at 2:38 pm 4 comments

So this is Christmas…

Last night, around 11:45pm, standing outside a place people flock to. The devout would (and have) kill for an opportunity like this. Midnight mass in the church that was built around a small hole and a dark cave. The place where this huge divide started – Jew and Gentile starts here. And somehow, this place, it’s impact skipped right over my adopted identity and reached all the way to Asia – to Korea. It changed my homeland and set the founding stones for this awkward divide within me. I can feel the events of thousands of years rush through me. Its a chilly night – this has become what I call “chilly” anyway. The candles trick my mind into feeling warmth, but my nose grows pink as I stand outside the gate with my cell phone cold against my cheek. Something feels so familiar about this voicemail I am leaving and it strikes a series of reflections that I am trying to suppress. It’s not strange to any of the passerbys that I am standing here, but it is strange to me.

“I love you. Bye.”, my fingers tighten to close the phone (Samsung – made in Korea) and tuck it into the pocket of my black wool jacket – the one Ajumma said not to wear anymore. I should rush back in an find her. The growing crowd will make it nearly impossible, but I am not afraid anymore. I am not afraid of not being able to find her. I’ve grown up and I wont allow my insecurities to worry me anymore. So I stay standing, outside the gate, and I allow the reflections to pour into me and wash over me until I have forgotten that I am standing at the gate of a powerful place and the birthplace of a nation of peoples.

As a child, Christmas meant two things. 1. A box of chocolate and a plane ticket to Georgia for Gladys that I would wrap up myself. 2.Chinese dinner at Peter’s restaurant “The Pagoda” in Eastchester. The first was such a warm feeling. Gladys, our live-in maid, was not hired to be my nanny (June was hired for that purpose), but who spent most of her time telling me stories about her life and the life of others she knew. She didn’t like chocolate (I did!), but she did enjoy going to Georgia every winter for a week to visit her mother who was raising Gladys’ daughter there. She had to be back before New Years Eve – when we would go up to “The Club” in the mountains for our annual New Years celebration. The second memory was a lukewarm feeling. “What are we going to do today?” I’d ask my father, hopeful that this year would bring something new and exciting. “We’re going out to have chinks,” he’d reply. Yiddish was his native tongue and it wasn’t until college that I really came to learn that the word “chink” was derogatory. Peter was a good friend of my grandparents – their only Asian friend. So two things were certain about Christmas in my childhood: I would pick a dress to wear that I thought made me look very white and Peter would be sure to bring an extra bowl of Chinese mustard for my father who loved to dip the crunchy noodles in it. “Its like eating a knish with Brown’s mustard,” my father would say as he inched the fried noodle towards my lips trying to convince me to eat one and like it. My head would turn, lips pursed together, and I would glance around Peter’s restaurant ….. every table filled with another Jewish family.

Somewhere during the reflection of mid-adolescent-hood jeans and a sweatshirt for dinner at Peter’s a stranger asked me for the time and I was jolted back to reality. Peter’s Pagoda restaurant faded into the black of the night around me and the candles’ glow pulled me into the gate to find Ajumma. I was right not to worry, I found her almost immediately and I kneeled next to her around that small hole that would change the world way before I was to attempt to find my way through it. I glanced over at Ajumma – her flat profile barely noticeable behind her thick self-made curls. I couldn’t help but to think how odd it is that Peter’s Pagoda would feel more comforting right now than this place right here.  

December 25, 2007 at 12:05 pm Leave a comment

Let’s be honest and such.

I am often misunderstood on the subject of adoption. I expect it really, because I myself am not all that clear or consistent on the issue. Dealing with my own almost certain, cancer-aftermath infertility and the unfairness of it all, I have found myself feeling somewhat desperately selfish and longing for a spot of elitist beneficiary. I prematurely long for my continuation, bloodline, and other such huff and puff that I used to ‘poo poo’ in prospective adoptive parents who already know genetic connections that I have never known. In my opinion, they were always not yet ready… whatever ready might one day entail. It’s all silliness really, as I am in no position to be even entertaining such ideas, none-the-less wasting my time day-dreaming about what follows such feelings.  

Despite the prematurity of my infertile panic, I picked up a book at a local English bookstore today written by a father of a daughter adopted from China, contrary to my own internal promise that I would not start reading such material (only adoptive parent written happy solutions to infertility issues stories) until these feelings “pass.” I didn’t buy the book, but I sat on the floor for 4 hours with my mind glued to each page, my soul enveloped into his story, my body frozen still. After reaching the third half of the book I realized that much time had passed and my lower half was now fast asleep. The writer, a father, his words dancing in my head, I closed the book and began my slow baby-steps towards the shelf in which it was found and then out the door. I walked out and reached home in a dream-like daze. And even now, almost a day later, I am longing to understand him. Longing to feel like him even.

More often than the issue of adoption, I am often misunderstood on the issue of my (adoptive) parents. This is more confusing for me, as I am quite clear and consistent on this issue. Despite what some may think and what some might think I should feel, I love my parents. After my last post, some readers might think “what? is she crazy?” but the fact is that most sons/daughters love their parents despite whatever may be involved. This is different than unconditional love, although I might be accused of and found guilty by a jury of my-selves of such a crime as well. I do appreciate my father’s honesty and openness in how he feels and I respect (although fail to understand) the space he has created between us. It is not that I am unrelentingly forgiving as much as I am understanding. It makes sense to me, what he says about me feeling like an outsider to him… I myself feel this. And many adoptees that I have met and/or read also feel this way. Let me make it clear that my father has never said that he does not love me. I know he does and I do him as well.

My (adoptive) mother has taken a different approach, one similar to the writer, the father, of the book I picked up at the bookstore. She wanted something, felt so deserving of something, that she created it in a place where it might have been unlikely to exist otherwise. She decided that she can and will become a mother to a child from another. She would make this a story of meaningful unification and destiny.  She would erase the outsided-ness and she would parent this child with no difference than she does her daughter she birthed several years earlier. What the social workers and articles and books had said — she would make this her reality. She would love me as her own. It would become her motto and it would rule her actions. She would do it because it is what she needed and what I needed. She was so well intended and this came so simple to her. I truly believe that she was born to be a mother and so this process was second nature to her. This love, I more uneasily understand, but quite clearly felt and most likely will never doubt. It was essential to me as a child and would be a welcomed return if it were to return even now. I long for it now and it angers me that it has been blocked, removed, iced over. I know that for my mother, what we have become is unnatural to her and uncomfortable and what she has become is forced in an effort to push her guilt into non-existence and correct wrongs that she feels responsible for, but most of all, to hide what she considers shortcomings. It’s within her that my hope lay and to which I feel that someday we might return to each other – this life or our next.

This post will probably be followed by reader comments of expressive sadness and disbelief, maybe outrage. I could be told that an injustice has been bestowed upon me. I could not disagree more, but I felt a need to explain a bit and without becoming too revealing of what is a very internal family situation. It was not my intention to project the image of victim or product of a “messed up family.” That is certainly not the case. Its fine if you do not understand as I am not expecting understanding, I simply blog in an effort to express things that I care not to talk of or cannot find the strength to talk of or just things that talking of does not help in weeding through of such.

December 21, 2007 at 11:27 pm 2 comments

Adoption Serious

Recently, a women named Rebecca commented on my blog. I was pretty touched by her comment, because something so rare seems to be happening with her. She is thinking seriously about adoption BEFORE she adopts. That’s kind of amazing these days. Not many people do that. It seems to me that many, many adoptive parents go into adoption to fulfill a need. I don’t think, by any means, that this is a “wrong” reason to adopt, but so many seem to dive in head-first without even taking a deep inhale. I wish more people would inhale first — they could really use that oxygen after their are over their heads in water – once the “baby” is “home.”

There is a potentially good example of above mentioned adoption strategy in the news recently ( ) with a diplomat from the Netherlands who has recently “disrupted” his adoption of a Korean “baby” he adopted at age 3 months (she is now 7 or 8 years old). I don’t pretend to know what the circumstances are involving this “disruption.” The articles (and diplomat himself) are only stating that the “adoption went wrong.” The articles also mention that this couple was infertile at time of the adoption and have since birthed two children that they are not placing for adoption. Readers of such articles are lead to make some assumptions of this couple and it has thus enraged the Korean adoptee community. I can’t blame them. These kinds of stories burn adoptees who often struggle with issues relating to “blood connections” and how essential this is to a true and pure parent/child connection. The feeling of original rejection sits somewhere within our being. In some it sits at the front row and for some, it’s somewhere in the nose-bleed section. For me, it’s jumped around … from middle center to jumping right up on the stage. Some nerve! A secondary rejection seems unbearable to most adoptees. To me, I know that it is bearable, survivable, and in some cases, essential.

Although the article hurts me and I feel for that little girl, there is a different, very unreasonable response that I had. I feel also for the adoptive parents – the rejectees, if you will. I don’t think it is so hard to guess that they probably got special treatment when they adopted. My parents did. My parents had the funds (and then some) and they have the social connections (and then some) and they were able to move through the process in a matter of just a couple of months at the most. They got a young baby girl (exactly what they ordered) faster than what most mail orders took during that period (this was before you could “shop” for babies online!). They were beneficiaries of a wronged system. They were ignorant. Not to parenting or what a baby would involve (they had a biological daughter already and knew that parenting is no cake walk), but to how adoption would feel…. for me and for them. They were sucked into the agency infomercials and convinced that this would be the solution to their secondary infertility. Like the newest Benzoyl Peroxide cream shows promise to the 13 year old with acne, adding me to their mostly happy family seemed like a logical and reasonable solution – heck, at the very least, it was worth a try.

My parents were good at the motions of parenthood. They provided for me in a generous fashion. They showered me with gifts, hugs, and kisses. They educated me and always made sure that my belly was full. I never missed an essential doctor or dentist appointment. I was enrolled in enriching activities and summer camps. Yet, when my father told me last year, “It’s not that you are a bad daughter, Julia. You are a very good daughter. You just never were my daughter.” I was not surprised. I always knew he felt this way, although he tried to never show it. And although I am and always will be my mother’s solution to her painful infertility ordeal, I know that she also feels this way. I am what they needed – child number two – but I am not what they wanted. After years of denial and societal pressure to remain committed to me, the truth comes out. Only, the truth doesn’t hurt nearly as one would expect, because, well… I always knew where I stood in their lives.

I don’t know what the solution is for this 7 year old girl. I don’t know how important it was for me to remain in a stable home – moving through the motions that every nice and good family models. Or if it would have been a good idea to endure a second rejection in the hope to find a true and honest familia connection. I just know that her story is not rare. She’s not alone. And that is the truly sad part of this ordeal. That is the true heartbreak and the real tragedy of the adoption system.

December 12, 2007 at 2:03 pm 19 comments

Julia’s Jam

It’s just not that black & white. Not because I am taking a stand against. Just because, the issues I face are somewhere in the grey area and to weed through them, I blog. I blog. ~

Glimpse of Julia

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