“I am not my adoption”

Project Description:

As far back as I can remember, the question that always was in my mind was whether or I should consider my parents as my “real” parents, the ones that adopted me, or the biological Korean parents. At first I did not put any emotional thought into that question. Everything I thought about my adoption was only based on information, with no aspects that placed any emotional thought in the concept of what it meant to be adopted. However over time this question has gained more personal meaning and caused a numerous amount of complex and sometimes negative emotions about myself. Overall, one of my many insecurities is my appearance, no matter how “pretty” or “beautiful” people tell me I am.

Growing up I had no one to compare my looks to except for the Caucasian Jewish girls at my Jewish day school. I made some friends, but at times when others would not want to hang out or be with me, I would always blame my appearance as the reason for their distance, that I couldn’t be “popular” because I was not white. So from then on I just assumed this about myself, and how people interact with me, basing my personality on my Asian features, meaning I must be shy, quiet, and obedient. For a while I was exactly this. But then puberty happened and then high school happened, which meant a great amount of change. Now in college I am no longer shy or obedient, I’m quite the opposite. Sometimes I can even be too much to handle for certain people. But I’m proud of my being able to change to my true self instead of fulfilling society’s wishes and stereotypes.

Although my confidence level has increased since my childhood, I still have trouble with identifying with myself every time I look into a mirror. I expect to see this gorgeous white girl with strawberry blond hair and green eyes, and instead I get a tan face with large cheekbones and small, beady dark eyes. Sometimes I do not know whether to call myself “Asian” or not, or whether I should call myself anything at all. This all spirals into confusion and eventually leads to low self-image and esteem. I never had the opportunity to learn about my Korean heritage from my parents, who (with good intentions) sent me away to a Jewish day school. However, there is an advantage to all this. I am unique because I am a biologically Korean girl that can speak Hebrew, which impresses anyone I’ve ever encountered. Some of my friends even admire me for my cultural knowledge of Judaism, and the fact I’ve been to Israel twice and was asked by an Israeli if I was Israeli, since I asked her the price of a pair of earrings in Hebrew. All in all, I have accepted that although I will never be fully comfortable with myself, I can still count on the fact that I have friends who admire me for my uniqueness and worldly knowledge.