11 days ago was my "Gotcha Day" aka the anniversary of my adoption. Ellen, a social worker with Catholic Charities, brought me over from Korea so this was probably the first time my mom ever held me. Apparently I was a little scared.
Gotcha Day is one of the most important days of my life. Normally I celebrate it in a small way, but this year I completely forgot. So now I'm writing some #inspo instagram caption bullshit for you guys.
I had the picture perfect American upbringing. A nuclear family in the suburbs where all of my needs were met and I never had to worry about shelter, love, or having enough food to eat.
I can only think of three things to complain about:
- not being allowed to play football
- not being allowed to quit boyscouts
- leftovers night or pizza from fallston seafood
But no football probably saved a few years of my life, I can make a mean lean-to campfire, and I never eat leftovers or shitty pizza (unless I’ve been drinking but let’s be honest a Roppolo’s at 3am is better than Fallston Seafood).
Overall... not that bad :)
Now my parents are divorced, my brother has been around the world with the army and my sister has gone through hell and back. It's 2018 and that's called life.
Working through my journal this morning, I was reflecting on adoption and kept coming back to this moment a few weeks ago. I was at a founders dinner and one of them brought up the immigrant mentality. How he came to this country with a chip on the shoulder, how he had to work even harder to get what he wanted, how it hardened him. I remember nodding with respect.
My fiance is a first-generation immigrant with two degrees and a victory over cancer. Her family immigrated from Laos, worked their asses off and saved as much money as they could while raising a family, and then risked it all by starting what is now a very successful small business in small town America.
The first person who gave me my shot and built the foundation for my entrepreneurial career is an immigrant.
As a Korean Adoptee, I’m an immigrant too.
And if you are looking for a hot take on immigration, sorry to disappoint! I’m going to complain about something else.
Like everyone else growing up, I was regularly teased. I remember the slanted eyes and being called every variation of ching chong imaginable. Sometimes I cried in the bathroom at school. Other times I would yell back “I’m not even Chinese!”
It didn’t get to me like it gets to others. There was so much love and support in my household, from family members and from friends.
That didn’t stop me from wondering, “What am I really? What does it even mean to be Korean?”
Many adoptees are from a different race, ethnicity or culture than our parents.
We’re left figuring out identity on our own.
While this is something everyone struggles with, it’s different if you're Italian, Indian, Mexican or Texan. You have that. It's clear and it can't be taken away from you. You can always fall back to it. There’s cultural norms, customs, history, ways to act and deal with things.
Adoptees are left with questions and when you compound them with the complexities of life, it can be confusing as hell.
Subscribe to Ben Hebert
Get the latest posts delivered right to your inbox