As a Korean adoptee, I have had occasions when I have wondered “what if” I had grown up in my Mother Land; how would my life have been different? Growing up in mostly White American neighborhoods I had plenty of people who generously shared their version of the “what if” game. These folks were certain that had I not been adopted by my Christian salt-of-the-Earth parents, that I would have continued to languish uncared for in a foreign (to them) orphanage, received no education, and grown up to be a prostitute (like my birth mother – which they were certain my mother had been). What’s more, their chronicle of the “what if” game always ended with a “you are such a lucky child” and with a command of, “you should be so grateful.” I used to sometimes believe that my hard times were brought upon by my ungratefulness for being bought and raised in an abusive and mean spirited home.
But I digress from today’s “what if” game.
Today, upon learning from reading another Korean adoptee’s Facebook post, that today marks the Korea’s lunar New Year, I flashed on the what if I did not have to be educated well into my adulthood of my Mother Land’s holidays and traditions. What if I was culturally, language and all, a native Korean woman? What if I didn’t feel a little ripped off by having to learn that not only is today the Chinese New Year but my birth country’s New Year too?
If I were to be honest, and let’s pretend that I am, I would admit that each time that I have paused and pondered the what if question, that anger springs up and I feel resentful instead of the requisite gratitude, I want to scream. I am not grateful. I was ripped off. I was ripped away from my birth culture. I missed out on knowing basic stuff about my heritage and now get to learn bits and pieces here and there of what was birth-fully mine. I want to scream. To shout.
There’s lots more to say on this topic but not today. Today, it has to be enough for me to simply share my little sliver of my what if narrative.