I have had an awful lot of feelings and an awful time trying to make any sense of them over the past few months. I fester inside of myself, gangrene of the soul eating away at my edges. I write sentences in my head and then unwrite them, erase words that barely even had a chance to form. Sometimes I get a glimpse of myself– slowly realize that I am both terrified of having a voice and terrified of not having one. I hungrily devour others’ words and thoughts and burn them into my brain so that I have no room for my own. So that I cannot have any feelings or ideas of my own.

But it is not all necessarily so bad; there are tiny gentle sprouts poking their heads through the manure in my heart. They clumsily repeat the words that I have read, faking the sentiment in the desperate hope that they can grow larger: I am a treasure and I deserve to take up space. I am cooler than my haters. It is hard to believe the latter statement when most of your haters are inside of you. I get distracted by the logistics. The most difficult by far to even comprehend is that I deserve to make mistakes and still be loved, because I am tiny but growing.

I have been reading some history of Korean/American adoption lately–it’s a topic I have wanted to research but I had forgotten. Sometimes I fall down a rabbit hole of foreign policy or university spending or something and I don’t come back for months. I read an article by Steve Haruch that traces some of the history of Korean/American Adoptee organizing and storytelling. And of course stories of falsified adoption records, corrupt and/or ignorant agencies, and the muddling of pre- and post-adoptive life.

I remember telling you that I once googled the name my biological parents gave me. I returned home last week only to be confronted again by the photo of my bald, oddly-shaped, newborn head, and my name written phonetically in English. I remember telling you that I once googled my first-assigned name but didn’t find it very interesting.

I am here now to tell you that I was afraid, and I am afraid, to research my first-assigned name. I am frankly terrified to know either way– whether the narrative in my adoption records are true or not. I do not want to know right now. Probably I would find nothing, or my records would be vaguely corroborated enough to satisfy me.


The uncertainty, the possibility that parts of those records may be falsified, whether for “better” or “worse,” is right now so terrifying that I am not sure what I would do if it were true. While many parts of my self-identity and self-esteem have shifted in my life, viewing my adoption as a positive part of my life has not. I need to buy into this for myself, even if it is not true for everyone, perhaps not even a majority of adoptees. Adoption is complicated, man, and I know various cultural, racial, and imperial forces have likely caused me to become orphaned when it perhaps was not absolutely “necessary.”

I’m still trying to understand on an academic and distant level why adoption happened to me. I am purposely–and perhaps both selfishly and stupidly– choosing ignorance about the individual truths behind it.

The problem is that I am actually like a child who has been told not to touch a hot stove. I am curious and dumb. To be clear, I haven’t even typed the name in a long time, let alone into a search box. But my fingers feel itchy just thinking about it. It’s like looking over the edge of a cliff– terrifyingly dizzying but also breathtaking. I never thought I would be so grateful for my prohibitive fear of everything, but here we are.