Last October, I went to watch The Origin(s) Project: Memoirs in Motion at Dreamland Art’s theater. The two performances by Katie Hae Leo and Sun Mee Chomet were an emotional and captivating journey. Although I am adopted from China, I was able to relate and be touched on a deep level by their Korean Adoptee stories. Therefore, I would like to share a few passages from the essay I wrote about the show. Although throughout my essay I also discuss how the show relates to Asian Americans, I will mostly be sharing my own adoption experiences here:
“Being an adoptee myself, I found some parts difficult to watch because some scenes brought up many sad emotions, but at the same time, the show was uplifting and inspiring. Although their stories cannot erase this constant aching in my soul – that feeling of something missing – that feeling that makes my eyes moist each time I think about it – their stories help me realize that healing from adoption is a lifelong process, and it starts with being able to face it. In general, I think the show addressed the universal difficulty of finding oneself and how important family can be in that process.”
“When Katie connects herself to hypothetical stories of her birth parents, she reached right into my own heart. One example of Katie’s stories was the one where she described one of her birth parents being a swimmer, gliding through the water at ease, and this was where her love of swimming came from. But each of Katie’s stories ended with a “maybe” because her birth parents’ history can only remain in her imagination. I also wonder if my birth parents have similar personalities or similar physical attributes to me. Did they like to be creative? Did they like going for walks? Sometimes I look down at my hands and wonder if I have my mother’s hands or my father’s hands – if one of my birth parents also had a finger that curved near the tip and if they passed down that trait to me.”
“Luckily for Sun Mee Chomet, the second actress, some of her questions are answered because she is able to find her birth relatives. Her beautiful performance, “How To Be A Korean Woman,” touched on a number of themes. Because Sun Mee was able to find her birth relatives, she experiences what it’s like to be adopted and also to be Asian American with relatives who are not akin to the American lifestyle.”
“I admire Sun Mee’s strength by being able to share her story. Although as an adoptee, I can relate to a lot of Sun Mee’s emotions, I cannot imagine meeting my birth mother only to find out that I have to be kept a secret. It was touching to see pictures of her with her birth mother though. I think this desire to see a face like your own is within many adoptees, including myself. Watching, hearing, almost seeing myself onstage, I was brought to tears when Sun Mee talked into the camera as if she was talking to her birth mother. “I want to see someone who looks like me.” I was happy this desire came true for Sun Mee, and at the same time, I was riddled with grief at my own misfortune. I do not think about it much because it’s painful, but when I realize I cannot see my birth parents, it’s like I am in constant grieving. ”
“Confused. Hurt. Rejected. These emotions always seem to appear whenever I do address my adoption, but watching Katie and Sun Mee has helped me realize that these feelings are okay. I may not ever fully heal emotionally, but acknowledging how I feel about my adoption helps me become stronger. It helps me understand myself a little better.”
Thank you so much for reading my first post. I hope my reflections can provide some insight on adoption.