Monday, October 25, 2010

The Complexities of Transracial Adoptee Identity: Only That I Am


I read a post, "Others Will Always Judge Me," by blogger Mei-Ling at Shadow Between Two Worlds, which prompted me to recall a poem that I wrote years ago that coincidentally directly relates to what Mei-Ling wrote.

The fact that my poem and her post, although written distinctly apart from one another, so closely relate exemplifies potently the commonalities experienced among Asian adoptees adopted into White Western families (and other transracial adoptees)--the conflict of identity that we face not simply internally but externally. We must wrestle to develop an identity in the face of others constantly defining us according to their own ideas and preconceptions.

I understand that this theme in identity is common not only among adoptees, but rather that is it a universal experience within the human condition. Yet its universal nature should not be used therefore to dismiss or minimize such a struggle but rather to recognize its validity and the need for we, as human beings, to not only learn to embrace the complexities of human identity and experience, but ultimately to show compassion toward one another.

* * *


ONLY THAT I AM


I.

before i knew the world

it didn't matter who i was.

only that I am.

before i knew the world

i didn't care who i was.

only that I am.

before i knew the world

i didn't know who i was.

only that I am.

and now. that i know the world,

everyone i know

does. not. know enough.

or they think they know too much.

[and simply. that we are:

has never. (really) been enough]

and now that i know you.

i know exactly who i am.

skinny.

short.

chink. or is it jap? (actually to be ethnically correct, Korean. but culturally correct, American. by species, homo sapien, in fact. and as far as i know--i am breathing. and as far as i know--i am emoting. and as far as i know--i exited a womb in somewhat the same fashion as did you. i believe.)

a woman? indeed.

full of potential. according to what? age affirmative action gender the fact that my english is so very good. is that so? perhaps, because it is my first language. perhaps because I have been raised by Americans since the age of nursing (they point and gawk--look at the Tarzanette--look at her adapt). although i have never nursed. for obvious reasons. such services are not available to orphans. this is not the writing below the poster child. this is not a life story in the form of advertising to solicit your donations. this is you defining

who. i. am.

and who i was doesn't matter. because in all reality, who i was i never was.

in the first place. and who I think I am only goes as far. as your attention span.

which, upon observation, may span wide but

all you seem to have is a shallow end.

and. retention diminishes without depth.

like trying to transport the ocean using a cutting board.

and what use is the knife in our hands or the cutting board on our knees

when all we've got is water. (oh America, the optical illusion of your pseudo-depth: these are the mirages to which I run. into which i trip-- all i thought i knew: spills. like oil. and milk. but i will cry-- each and every tear.)

(interjection: i happened to have been raised by the Brady bunch. except my father has slightly less hair. and he never would have gotten a perm, even if he had wanted one)

in the underground: they salute only as bigots can: crackers for all to eat. we're such a clever species, aren't you? with such SAT-MCAT-GRE-LSAT-wisdom: absolute. genius.

full of senses--keenly: the way you so adroitly. pull. at. the corners of your. eyes-- to look like: me.

II.

okay. enough: this scathing oration is scathing-- what is left of love.

in all sincerity: i despair. in my cynicism.

for years, the sun has been setting: i have been howling. [how true are the dogs that pant and beg--- the spell will split. (first impressions are lasting impressions: until the truth comes out)].

(look at my eyes: are they not pleading)

that i could redefine.

restore.

that i could re-meet the world.

get to know one another all over again: like we never knew the other existed--

until now:

on the paramount day: when we first exchange salutations and. once again:

feel the rise of:

Romance. Intrigue:

the rediscovery of Innocence.


* * *


Furthermore, PLEASE READ THIS: "Why so angry?" at John Raible Online where Dr. Raible answers the question, "What do transracial adoptees want?"

Again, PLEASE READ IT. His answers to the questions are the truth, I could relate to almost every statement made. I wish every single adoptive parent, prospective adoptive parent, social worker, basically, anyone connected to adoption in any way and even simply the general public would read it and get it.




3 comments:

epispeaks said...

i like this:). (i'd write more but i should be writing papers for my master's class. i mean they're due in a few hours, but this... this was worth the time away. i hope that explains more what i meant. i like it.)

sisterheping said...

"and who i was doesn't matter. because in all reality, who i was i never was."

Interesting.

Melissa said...

@ epispeaks...thanks, girl. love your writing...i connect so well with the way you express things...

@ sisterheping...the ever ambiguous "interesting." *smilewink*