“I felt like I fit in, but definitely did not.”

“When I went back twenty-five years later, I was faced with something almost alien to me; it felt right, but it didn’t; I felt like I fit in, but definitely did not.”

~ Noah Cho

I read the above in a Catapult article where Noah Cho writes about a conversation between he and Michelle Zauner. It struck a chord with me.

This is how I felt during my first visit back to Korea, in January of 2013. I was fortunate, that year, being able to visit the country twice. The first time was for work, the second time, that June, as part of the 2013 Journey class.

January was hard because I didn’t know what to expect. I had travelled before but, this was the first time it would be Korea. My birthplace. My first time back since I was 18 months old. Even more difficult was that I had a job to do, and that came with a schedule to adhere to along with a “bubble” of people that I would always be with.

So while I, of course, was trying to take everything in, I was constantly distracted with the task at hand. In hindsight, it was an emotionally confusing couple of weeks where I was being pulled into different directions, constantly.

The June trip was much more pleasurable and gave me more time to understand and process, while at the same time introduced me to far more of the country than I went in expecting. So much so that even now, in 2019 (six years later), I’m still processing what I saw, felt, and learned.

an adoptee pain point

Ah yes, the ol’ joke about how the person must be adopted because they’re so different from the rest of the family… so different, in fact, that they couldn’t possibly belong with the rest of them.

You’re not one of us. Cue laugh track!

Hilarious.

So funny that it makes me want to literally punch the person who wrote the line in the face. And then punch anyone else involved who allowed it to make to air.

Listen, I’m adopted. It’s really complicated… the experience, the feelings, the thoughts… it all has so many layers that it’s really hard to understand them all. Even more so, it’s harder to feel comfortable with it all; to feel comfortable with yourself and who you are.

I have a great family, and an overall good adoption experience but, adoption – and being an adoptee – is not a “thing” that can be summed up with a binary “good” or “bad”. Like I said, it’s really complicated.

I don’t (publicly) write about it because I still struggle to understand a lot of things around it. Every adoptee has a different experience, a different story, and a different set of feelings that they need to work to understand. Each adoptee will react differently to things like this. Some might even find that joke funny.

That is 100% valid and acceptable.

It. Is. Complex.

I have my own pain points. I have my own triggers.

That ol’ joke? Yeah, that’s a trigger. Yes, it’s a pain point.