Dear Mom.

Dear Mom,

How are you handling COVID in Korea? I assume you still live in Korea, but I honestly do not know where you are living. I do not even know if you are still alive, actually. However, today I am going to assume you are both alive and living in Korea. I heard Korea is doing really well with the pandemic – probably the decades of habit in wearing a mask really helped. And the homogenous culture. In Louisville, Kentucky, it was as controlled as it could be for a little while. But then people started getting antsy and making “wearing a mask” a political statement or protest and our numbers have increased. My husband and I do not go out much. We were homebodies before the pandemic but we certainly are even more so now, uncomfortably so.

I suppose I’m small talking at the moment because I’m not sure where to start with my letter to you, and current events seems like a global thing to talk about. I have recently been involved in the adult adoptee community online. It has basically given me a purpose in life. Prior to the pandemic, I lived my life without any kind of community. I stopped going to church because it has been a painful process of understanding my time at my college ministry. It was a cult. I was in a cult. So I took a step back after being in several ministries for 13 years of my life.

So back to the adoptee community. Did you know there is such a thing? Where adoptees from all over the world use social media to communicate and build friendships? It’s amazing. If there was one thing that came from this pandemic, it was this community coming into my life. We talk about things that only other adoptees understand in similar ways. Abandonment. Rejection. Identity. Racism. Of course there are so many people who understand these issues, but adoptees GET these issues to our core.

What kind of community do you have in your life? Do you know any other birth moms? I know the culture of single mothers is so different in Korea and very much not accepted by society. I hate this about Korean culture. Ultimately, it seems to be a huge reason why mothers relinquish a child.

I hope to hear from you soon. Some days I have hope to meet you and other days, I feel the impossible weight of our separation. I hope you are well.

Love,


Kang So Yung, 강소영

Chips.

“Why is your nose so flat?”

“You have a flat face!”

Look! I can have squinty eyes too!”

I grew up in private schools in the east end of Louisville, Kentucky. I was one of a couple minorities in my school, and I had four older [white] brothers that attended before me. I was held back in kindergarten, so I was a foot taller and a year older than everyone else in my class. I grew thick skin quickly, because it wasn’t that I noticed I was different. It was everyone else in my grade who noticed I was different. And as you know, kids are not the most tactful or mindful of your feelings. Thankfully, I was just plain bigger than all the other kids, so I did not get bullied or picked on too much. In fact, I think I immediately puffed up.

Honestly, I was a mean kid. I felt defensive. I felt offended. I felt embarrassed. I felt angry. I was a little overweight. I wore really baggy clothes (thank you, 90’s). I never got in trouble at school. Or at home, really. I had close friends but kept them at arm’s length. In the most pertinent milestones of my development, all I wanted to do was fit in.

Perhaps it was and is part of the depression, but often in social settings, I would feel this loneliness come over me. It would hit me right in the middle of hanging out with friends or dinner, or some kind of social setting. A zipped up emotional Katie that completely shut down. For most of my life, I never understood where it came from, why I felt it, or how to prevent it from happening, but then I started educating myself more about depression and realized it was just part of my process.

It took me a while to acknowledge the anger that lived inside me. From defending myself of things I could not change as a child to injustice toward people of color. It took even longer to figure out how to redirect it. And I am relearning how to deal with it as a married person, because it is different dealing with it alone. It is another thing when you have to deal with your anger with another human being.

I no longer walk in shame of what I look like and who I represent. I know my experiences have taught me to be an advocate for others who feel silenced and those who suffer from any kind of illness. I am slowly letting go of the chips off my shoulder.