Author: Rachel Fabian Mace

Korean Adoptee NYC Meet up: The Lovely Stefanie B.

I had a wonderful time this weekend meeting the amazingly beautiful and very talented Stefanie B, and her dog, Billy Lee, at their lovely apartment in NYC. It was a rainy dreary March day in New York. But as soon as I met Stefanie, I felt an instant ray of sunshine and a real warmth that lasted well into the night. She is literally one of the most beautiful people I have ever laid eyes on. So much so that it is hard to believe that she was ever terrorized for the way that she looked growing up as a biracial Korean child in Korea and then as a biracial Korean adoptee growing up in the states. She has the most amazing dark hair highlighted with shades of grey, which Stefanie proudly owns as her own “fifty shades of grey.” She believes in embracing the beauty that you are at whatever age you are. And that aging can be done gracefully. She has a warm glow with golden skin that looks like we are in the dead of summer. And her smile could stop any man in his tracks. But even more than that, this lady has class, artistic flair, and a beautiful warm soul.

Her apartment was decorated with her own personal artwork and a collection from other artists. She has completed art work for other Korean adoptees, including portraits of them as children with their biological mothers or in their native Korean homeland. These incredible pieces are deeply moving, capturing the emotions behind what it means for an adopted child to be seen with their biological mothers. These portraits are sometimes based on real photographs of biological families taken decades prior. Others are based on memories from greater than 20 years old of what the adoptees remember their biological mothers to look like. Others are based off of only an intuition or a feeling of who these unknown mothers are. Regardless of the inspiration, her artwork never ceases to move me to tears. Stefanie’s artwork is so powerful because it’s often the only portrait that exists of the adoptee and his or her biological mother. All of Stefanie’s artwork is created, under her Korean name, Jacky Lee.

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This portrait is a drawing of a young Korean adoptee based on a 1973 photo of her as a baby. A photograph that she only received in 2010. The drawing of her mother, or “omma,” was a depiction that Stefanie portrayed from the heart and essence of this young adoptee, as there were no photographs of the young mother available. Such a beautiful piece.

Stefanie also does 3D Nano eyebrow artistry– transforming brows using a technique akin to traditional Japanese tebori. Stephanie hooked my brows up! We ended the night with a yummy dinner at a local noodle shop. I love New York. And it’s even better experiencing the city with a newfound KAD sister.

Stefanie was five years old when she was adopted from an orphanage in Incheon. She still remembers the last day she was ever with her biological mother. Her mother cried a lot that day, and told the man at the school that she “wouldn’t be going to school today.” Having these memories of her biological mother, she’s never questioned that her bio mom loved her very deeply. Stefanie was adopted by an American family stationed in Japan. They later moved to California and eventually settled in St. Louis. As an adult, Stefanie moved to New York where she currently resides. Stefanie has never reconnected with her biological mother. But she’s carried the memories of the first five years with her biological mother with her even to this day as a special part of her past.

Stefanie said that many biracial children were birthed out of American GI’s coming to Korea and impregnating Korean “camptown women.” These were sex workers who provided their services to American GI’s in “camptowns” located near the American military bases in Korea beginning in the 1950’s. Stefanie said that racism toward biracial children in Korea was so horrific during the time when she was a child, that biracial children had to attend secret schools to keep from being terrorized, bullied, and even attacked.

While working her tebori magic on my brows, Stefanie shared a few YouTube videos documenting some of her experiences as a Korean adoptee. Stefanie recently returned to Korea this past year through a Mosaic HAPA trip, which was videodocumented on YouTube. We watched the video and the tears were flowing. This video was so touching. During the trip, Stefanie was able to meet a biracial Korean popstar named Insooni. Insooni shared her own story about being bullied for being biracial so much so that she had to drop out of school at age 15. Despite such adversity and racism, Insooni has went on to have a successful singing career and also founded a special school in Korea for biracial children. Growing up as a biracial Korean adoptee, it was often difficult for Stefanie to find real acceptance in Korean circles and black circles both in Korea and in the US. Meeting Insooni and seeing her success despite her differences was incredibly powerful for Stefanie and the other adoptees on the HAPA tour. Stefanie referred to her as her “Hero.”

After meeting and getting to know this incredible woman, I can honestly say that Stefanie is one of my real life heroes. I admire her strength, beauty, and poise. I’ve loved spending time chatting with her about shared experiences as Korean adoptees, and hope it’s the first of many more meet ups with her!

 

Mosaic HAPA Korea Trip, “Hero” Video

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Korean Adoptee Facebook Community

I’ve met some of the most amazing Korean adoptees from all over the US through facebook groups I’ve joined over the past year. It’s amazing to connect with others who can relate to my adoption experiences. It’s an amazing community with a lot of 1424748294536bright, talented, wonderful human beings. I’m so fortunate to have them in my corner. It’s been an invaluable support system. Each and every one of them have incredible stories to tell. Stories that will make you cry. Stories that will make you laugh. It’s so powerful to share stories. I’ve been inspired by each and every one of them. A couple of the girls I’ve met reconnected with their biological families. They said it took them years to process their reunions. Extremely validating to hear– especially in the early weeks after reconnecting with my family when my head was still spinning. One of the girls I met discovered she had a biological twin brother who she was able to reconnect with. Another girl I met is considering searching for her biological family, but isn’t sure yet. Totally understandable.

One group I joined was a Korean Adoptee War Paint (make-up) group. This has been such an amazing Annie - KAD War Paintgroup to be a part of because we share all of our beauty secrets with each other for our gorgeous Asian features. This has been extremely meaningful for me to see these gorgeous faces who look just like me! It’s so neat to see beauty in their Asian features. Growing up with my very white adoptive family in a predominantly white neighborhood, the only Asian girl I ever saw was when I was looking in a mirror! My family told me that I was beautiful, and I think somewhere deep inside I felt that way– but I mainly just felt different a lot of the time. I was the only Korean adoptee I knew in any of my social circles. So, in essence, I was different. Being different is both beautiful and challenging. It’s nice to be different. But there is definitely something to be said about Hannah KAD War Paint FB Groupcommunity. These girls are rocking out their Asian beauty! And I love it! I love seeing their faces and trying their make up tricks for Asian eyes. Community. Solidarity.

Another group, a Korean adoptee Writing/Quotes/Poetry/Lyrics group, is an amazing group where we can share experiences or just express whatever we are feeling. It’s incredible to hear from others. It’s been an amazing outlet. I love connecting with other people. The more I do, the more I see how much we all have in common. The groups are great for asking questions and for being resources for others within the community. Topics include logistics of birth family searches, traveling to Korea, adoptee meet-ups, culture, language, and how to navigate being an adoptee or adoptive parent. I would encourage any transracial adoptee to join an adoptee fb group. It’s been an invaluable community for me.

 

Photo collage created by Layne Fostervold.

 

Losing the Mystery of my Birth Family

Twenty-fourteen has been the most amazingly incredible year of my entire life. Reuniting with my bio family was extremely joyous as well as incredibly heavy. I had no idea of the identity crisis that would ensue in reconnecting with them. Growing up I was surrounded by a Polish-German loving family that made me feel like I was the center of their entire universe. And this was my family. Even though we weren’t biologically related, and we didn’t look anything alike–this was who I took after. I had my adoptive mom’s somewhat shy personality and my adoptive dad’s love for adventure. My adoptive mom and I loved watching the same chick flicks and listening to the same sappy love songs. Her arms were the ones that held me when I was a child. Her sister-in-law, my aunt, taught me how to tie my shoes. Her brother, my uncle, taught me how to ride a bike. My adoptive dad told me that “I could be anything I wanted to be.” And that the “most important thing is to get an education.” These were the family members who taught me how to view the world; how to understand other people; how to prioritize my time; how to manage finances and other responsibilities; how to believe in spirituality; how to be a friend; how to fall in love; how to be married; and how to be myself.

My adoptive mom and I were bonded from the start. And before I met my biological family, I felt like a whole person. I didn’t feel that anything was necessarily missing from myself. There was a mystery about the first 9 months of my life and there was a mystery about who my biological family was, but I never felt incomplete. In fact, I think I actually felt stronger in myself as a person in the not-knowing. I was who I was– and being adopted and not knowing anything about my past before I was adopted was just part of my story. That was me, and I was okay with that.

After I met my biological family, I was no longer a person with a blank slate for a history. I had stories to correspond with my birth parents– real stories about real people. Weird discovering how new this was to me. As if I was realizing a stork didn’t just drop me off in my adoptive family’s home one day. I was actually born into a biologically-related family. And through the course of a couple of traumatic events, including my birth mom’s passing, I was severed from this family.

Reuniting with my bio family was like a seismic collision of earthquake proportion. The mystery of what my life was like before I was adopted was such a huge part of my identity. So much so that I think I actually grieved losing the person that I was before I reconnected with my bio family after we reunited. Because after this connection happened, there was no going back to that previous person, ever again. There were no take-backs. I can never un-know what I know now. I can never un-meet my biological family. I can never un-face the stories I heard surrounding my birth and my babyhood. I can never be a person without a history, ever again. And any person’s history involving an adoption is often a story of loss and a series of traumatic events.

I don’t mean that I want to un-meet my biological family. What I do mean is that before I met them, my history was like a dark windowless unlit room. Completely black. Nothingness. And this nothingness was the stronghold in which I built my entire identity on. I was a strong person because I had made it despite the fact that I started from nothingness. And now that I have a history, I am learning how to be a strong, powerful, human being with a past– an actual past. Not to mention learning how to incorporate all of these new human beings as part of my new identity. I lost my bearings for a bit. I’m seeing now that I need to gain my strength again with this new foundation– instead of a foundation of nothingness, it’s a foundation of loss and pain and, at times, joy. It’s a foundation of real memories being shared by my bio family members with me. It’s a foundation of details about my life before my adoption being sewn onto my post-adoption babyhood life. This is pretty incredible to think about, because before my reunion last year– I didn’t think I would ever be able to know any of these family members or hear any of these stories!

I’m learning where to go with this information. These new connections. These emotions. It’s like a door has been opened. It can’t be shut. I can only choose to walk through it– facing some of my greatest fears and also my life’s greatest adventures: getting to know my birth family and myself in ways that surpassed the realm of what I thought were possible. I’m really thankful that in this time of my life as I embark on these adventures, I have friends and family who deeply care about me. I’m holding onto them hand in hand as I enter this open door and say, “Let’s go for it.”

Baltimore Beginnings

I recently re-connected with my maternal biological family after being adopted when I was a baby. In doing so, I’ve been sharing with them bits about my life growing up in Baltimore– the good, the bad, and the ugly. In reconnecting with this part of my family, I have definitely reconnected with a part of myself that was birthed and cultivated in Baltimore– a tough gritty edginess that can only be explained by my experiences growing up in this city. Realizing this has made me appreciate and value the beauty in the harsh, sometimes dangerous, realities that I experienced growing up there because it is still part of me. This has definitely been a big shift for me, because I never really embraced these hard components of my childhood up until this point.

At the invitation of a friend, I recently visited Jordan Faye Contemporary, who just opened a new art gallery location within the Bromo Arts District of Baltimore. The True Grit exhibit, curated by Jonathan Hanson, was a collection of photographs capturing Baltimore from a street level view.  As I toured the exhibit, I could really relate to the images as pieces of my childhood and teen years. As I viewed the photographs, all I could think was, “This is so Baltimore.” I had three favorite photographs that really resonated with me. So to commemorate this monumental time in my life, I purchased all of them and took them home with me as the start of my personal art collection.

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The first was a photo of a girl holding her doll which truly embodied all of the little girls I grew really close to during my years as a volunteer in an inner-city after-school reading program off of Orleans and as a girls mentor and Sunday school teacher at my family’s Highlandtown church. So beautiful and emotional for me, that I definitely got a little teary-eyed the first time I saw it. The little boy with the gun in the background reminded me of a bittersweet moment when I confiscated a concealed “razor knife” all the girls were up-in-arms over that one of their 4 year old little brothers was packin one day. I had to hold back a smirk when it turned out to be only a metal nail file. He was still convinced it was a piece of badass contraband as he reluctantly unveiled it from his pocket. I didn’t tell him otherwise. I gave him a stern lecture about our no-weapon policy and tucked the lethal weapon in my desk for safekeeping.

This little girl also really embodied me as a little girl–growing up in Baltimore. I felt like I was looking at a picture of my younger self. I just wanted to scoop her up and let her know she was gonna be okay, and that she was going to grow up to be a fine young woman, and that all of the hardships she would ever face would only reinforce her strength.

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I really connected with the Highlandtown photo because I spent  most of my childhood and teen years romping around Highlandtown, like attending Highlandtown Elementary #215. Even when my family moved to “the county” when I was 10 years old, we still had a Highlandtown zip code and still lived along Eastern Avenue until I was 18. The photo looks exactly like the alley of the home on Robinson Street where I used to ride my little red scooter and where I left it propped up against the back gate. In this house, my mom and I loved walking down the street to the Patterson Park movies and visiting the local Chinese food joint for some of the most amazing shrimp fried rice and a 25-cent game of Pac-Man. Simple pleasures. Fond memories.

My Polish-German family and my husband’s Greek family both lived in Highlandtown, too. The photo brought back a lot of great memories of time with my polish grandparents, like hand-churning seasoned ground meat into homemade kielbasa for sauerkraut for the holidays in the summer kitchen of my grandma’s row home and hula-hooping outside of her home’s big bright-red brick steps and classic Charm City stained-glass windows. The photo also reminded me of my husband’s Greek heritage, including walking past his yiayia’s Greek Orthodox church, St. Nicholas, and going to Ikaros for their amazing lump crab cakes and traditional lemon soup. Yiayia and my husband’s mom immigrated to Greektown in Baltimore after coming to the US, literally on a boat to New York. One of her remarkable memories was penning live lambs in the backyards of their rowhomes in Greektown for the slaughter at Easter. Thankfully this is now illeagal, in case you were wondering. Such beautiful and rich family history, though. I love that I will be able to share this photo with my future children and their children’s children. It’s such a timeless photo.

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The third photo of the Stoop was really impacting and incredibly powerful. Every time I looked at it, I was instantly transported to Baltimore in a completely visceral way– so much so, it gave me chills. There is a rawness and a toughness about Baltimore that is beautifully captured in this photo.

I believe that Baltimore is a pivotal city not only for the US, but in the world at large. I think that sometimes Baltimore as a city is its own worst enemy–always thinking that it can’t be good enough. As if it can never be as influential as NY or LA, or anywhere abroad. I personally felt the weight of that when I lived there. I think that the tides are turning though, and I think that Baltimore is coming into its own as the years pass. It’s funny, I feel like Baltimore is “growing up” as a city in the same way I have been growing up as an individual. From humble working class beginnings, its learning to have a voice. Its figuring out who it is and who it is meant to be. Its finding its space in the world. It’s learning how to be tough and vulnerable at the same time. It’s learning how beautiful it is to be real and its embracing that.

For me, this photo highlights transition, change, and growth in the city. I believe that Baltimore is a total game-changer—not only for the US, but for the world at large. In order for true revloutionary change to occur, old walls  have to be broken down. I would love to see some of the hard walls of my rough hometown destroyed. And seeing the rubble of a fortified brick building torn down in this photo gives me hope that things like racial tension, fatherlessness, and violence in the city can also be demolished so that Baltimore can truly thrive. And once it does, look out! The repercussions will be limitless. So, for me, this photo was actually remarkably hopeful, not to mention beautifully shot.

Coming to this exhibit was almost cathartic –providing closure to old memories that have been resurfacing for me. It has also given me inspiration for a new direction on a book project I am working on to share my life experiences– not only as a Korean adoptee into a Caucasian family, but as a true Baltimore native.

 

The art featured in this post included “South Baltimore” photographed by Jennifer Bishop, “Highlandtown” photographed by Brian Miller and “The Stoop” photographed by Matt Roth. If you would like to become more connected with the growing art community in Baltimore, check out www.jordanfayecontemporary.com and www.fullcirclephoto.com, or follow any of these amazing artists. 

Ready to Say What I Want

 

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I turned 29 this week!!! I celebrated my birthday by taking time for myself and doing a couple of my favorite things: yoga, massage, a therapy session, lunch with my hubby, and wings and beer with friends. My therapist said that many people would be reluctant to come to therapy on their birthday. But, I always felt like therapy was a treat– a massage for my insides. After I leave our sessions, I always feel like shouting, “Therapy is my favorite thing, ever!!!!” But I restrain myself, and just leave with a smile and the newfound weightlessness that I usually have after a good session.

I started going to counseling after reconnecting with my bio family to help me process all of the intense emotions involved in that experience. At the outset, I didn’t feel like I needed to address the issues I had from growing up with an adoptive father who had a lot of anger issues– but this past session a few things came to the surface. I started the session talking about how I get really anxious talking in social situations–even about benign stuff like saying what kind of music I like, or my opinion on just about anything. I was scared to reveal too much to show my true self and to show how I was really feeling.

So, I used the EFT* tapping technique during the session to work through the stress I felt when talking to people. As I was working through this technique, I realized that I was afraid to talk to people because I was afraid that people would judge me or think I was a terrible person. During the tapping sequence, an old memory came to the surface of when I was little. My adoptive dad yelled a lot when I was little. Upon recalling this memory and making the association between my past experiences and my current state, I actually started crying. And amazingly, my tears brought an incredible release. I immediately felt a breakthrough. It was cathartic to realize why I became so anxious in social conversational situations. And I felt an amazing sense of peace and clarity in realizing where my anxiety stemmed from. After this amazing realization, I felt like I could really embrace the fact that I could say what I want to say–when I want to say it. And no one can stop me!

My new mantra is this: I am free to say what I want to say. I have a voice. And I need to use my voice. I need to be free to show my true self to the world. If I am not myself, who will be able to be me to the world? I want to leave my thumbprint on the world. If I don’t, no one else will be able to. No one else can make the difference that I am supposed to make in the world. Because no one else can be who I am meant to be. At 29 years old, I am ready to live, breathe, and speak my true self like I never have before. I am no longer content just being muted and subdued because that’s not really who I am. I’m ready to say what I want to say.

 

*If you would like more information on the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) you can check out www.thetappingsolution.com. It’s been an invaluable resource for me in processing all of these new emotions and reducing overall stress.

Reuniting With Me

Reconnecting with my birth family has been one of the most amazing, incredible experiences of my entire life. With it, I definitely had to take a step back and look at my own life. Who was I? Why am I the person that I am today? Am I this way because I was raised this way? If I was raised by a different family, would I still be the same person I turned out to be? Would I believe the same things? Would I have the same job? Would I marry the same person? Would I have the same type of friends, like the same music, wear the same clothes? In general, I had to ask myself, “Was I the person I was meant to be?” and “Am I happy with who I am?” Tough questions if you really think about them and really examine your own life.

In reconnecting with an entire set of family, I had to figure out how I fit in, and how I still kept my individuality. I saw so many similarities, and yet I wasn’t an exact replica of any one person or group of people–even within my bio family. In the months that followed my birth family reunion, my head was spinning with all of these questions. I felt like I was a teenager trying to figure out who I was all over again.

I really took a magnifying glass and examined every area of my life. Through a lot of soul-searching and a lot of time exploring things, I did realize a couple of things. Some things I already knew. Other things I knew but forgot. Others were new entirely. Regardless, I’ve listed a few things that I have discovered about myself at this time in my life. And I am choosing to embrace them all, regardless of who is surrounding me or what others may think of me. This soul searching wasn’t easy, but I know it helped me create more of the life I was meant to live at this moment in time. It jump-started a re-design of my life to help me live life more “on-purpose” rather than to just allow life to happen to me. I do feel like I know so much more about myself and about what I like/dislike– which has been invaluable.

This is Me:

1. I like Pop music.

2. I like to dance.

3. I like red nail polish and red lipstick.

4. I love Marisa Web’s redesign for Banana Republic. Stylish sophisticated with a touch of edge.

5. I like being creative. I like creating things and expressing myself. I like admiring other creative people’s work.

6. I like being innovative– at my job and in my personal life. I like trying new things and being the first one to do something.

7. I love that in my job as a speech pathologist, I get to give people back their lives through two things that are unique to the human experience: eating and speaking.

8. I like having my photo taken (when it looks nice!)

9. I like being autonomous.

10. I am a little bit of a feminist.

11. I like being surrounded by people.

12. I like city life.

13. I love my husband, and still think he is the most wonderful person I know.

14. I am who I am, and that’s okay.

15. I LOVE Guardians of the Galaxy. (It is my new favorite movie!)

16. I am a Baltimore native. I forgot how much this city contributed to my childhood.

17. I know how to make sauerkraut and kielbasa, probably better than any other Korean girl I know.

18. I like dance music, yoga, and aerial dancing

19. I love to travel.

20. I love to try new restaurants with friends.

21. I like to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. (And usually that’s as soon as possible!)

22. I don’t like to be owned, controlled, or manipulated.

And I am still learning…

Korean Dramas

Watching K-dramas has given me a window into Korean culture that I never had as a transracial adoptee. It’s really neat to be able to learn about Korea and hear the language as an observer through watching these shows. Growing up, I never saw a lot of Koreans on tv or in person. I’ve really loved seeing really attractive, talented, and successful Korean actresses and actors on the shows.

Growing up, I was told was that my biological mom was cut off from her family because she married someone against her parent’s wishes. In American culture, adults generally don’t disown their children. So, it was hard for me to comprehend how this could even happen. Because of this story, I imagined Koreans to be cold and stoic, emotionless. I had no other frame of reference. Last year when I began watching Korean dramas on Netflix, my understanding of Korean people changed. I can honestly say that watching these dramas made me realize that Koreans probably cut off family members because they were actually TOO emotional. Every single Korean drama that I have watched featured some of the most emotional television characters I have ever seen. And it’s not just your typical emotions. These are deep, heavy– cry your eyes out emotions. It’s so interesting to find this out about Koreans. And it’s neat, in a sense, because having the capacity for deep, heavy emotions is definitely a personality trait that I share. Interesting to think that perhaps genes have contributed to this element of my personality.

If you haven’t yet, check out some K dramas. It’s a neat window into K culture! Just have the tissues handy :)

“Somewhere Between”

Recently I saw a documentary entitled, “Somewhere Between” which told the stories of four Chinese girls who were adopted by white American families. I was so touched by their stories. I could relate to being somewhere between two cultures. Growing up I felt more German-Polish American than I felt Korean-American. I didn’t know the first thing about Korean culture, Korean food, or Korean people. The ironic thing was that I looked 100% Korean. And it seemed like every Korean person we met on the street knew it because they all assumed I spoke Korean. It was always a little awkward for me to explain why I didn’t speak Korean because I was always met with a look of disappointment or pain in their eyes. Looking back, I think these people were probably just sad to hear my story. However, in that moment I always felt ashamed that I didn’t know Korean. Like I had let these Korean people down somehow. There was definitely no reason for me to feel ashamed, and most of the time I knew that. The other hard scenario as a kid was responding to that disgruntled older Korean American adult about how “[I] should’ve really learned Korean growing up from my parents,” and “that it was a shame that kids don’t these days.” They usually stopped in their tracks as soon as I told them I was adopted by a white family.

Growing up, I’ve had a few Korean classmates in school, but I never really felt like I truly fit in with them. I didn’t know Korean. I didn’t know anything about being Korean. And I never got the memo about how being a Korean girl meant you were quiet, and soft-spoken, and when you laughed, you were supposed to cover your mouth with your hand as if that was more lady-like. Crazy enough at the same time, by the looks of me, no one could deny I was Korean. But I wasn’t really Korean. But I wasn’t really white. I was just somewhere in-between.

Check out the documentary that totally rocked my world at http://www.somewherebetweenmovie.com/

Working Out My Differences

I always knew that I looked different than my family, but I never felt like I didn’t belong. In fact, I always felt like I took after my mom in a lot of ways, including her tendency to over-think everything as well as her unwavering generosity towards those she cared about. My mom’s unconditional love always provided me with a sense of grounding and a strong sense of acceptance. Even though we didn’t look alike, there was never a question that I was her daughter, and she was my mom.

I was raised in a primarily white neighborhood of east Baltimore in a largely Polish-German part of town, a few blocks away from Patterson Park. I have really fond memories of my grandma’s brick rowhome where we spent a lot of our holidays making sauerkraut and kielbasa in her summer kitchen. I also have a lot of really tough memories of cruel white kids in the neighborhood pulling their eyes back, speaking jibberish to me and ignorantly calling me “Chinese.”

Generally, I really valued being different despite the tough experiences. It made me super-independent and free-thinking, which was a good thing. It made me a stronger person. I was really self-aware and able to share my adoption story at the drop of a hat. (And it seemed like mom and I couldn’t even leave a grocery store without having to tell it at least once!) On the flip side, there were times where I felt isolated because of how independent I was.  People can be intimidated by independent people.

Looking back, I see that I had my own contributions to being isolated. I was a little too independent and too strong at times. Maybe because it was easier to put up guards to protect myself so that people couldn’t get close enough to hurt me. Since realizing how isolating being uber-independent could be, I’ve actually spent a lot of my adult life learning how and when to allow these walls to crumble. It’s a work in progress.

 

A New Start

At nine months old, my new family embraced me as their own. My mom Doris has always made me feel like I was the best thing that ever happened to her and that being adopted was something really special. It was never a surprise to find out that I was adopted because my dark Asian features were always a stark contrast to her blonde hair and blue eyes, and being adopted was something we weren’t shy about sharing as our story. Being adopted was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I always felt so lucky to be placed into such an amazingly loving family.