By Amy Skinner (김인희)
As I sit across from this woman, I try to place where I know her
I glance her way.
A childhood classmate? Maybe an old colleague? Perhaps someone
I tilt my head from side to side examining her features.
Her round face, thick dark hair, thin pale lips, and almond shaped
I watch her sit in solitude and though she doesn’t say a word, her
eyes are telling a story.
I stare directly into her eyes, and it all comes back to me.
Suddenly my body tenses up and I feel like and outsider. I feel
secluded, neglected, embarrassed, afraid, heartbroken, used and
I have seen her before. A long time ago. I remember praying at night
for beautiful blonde hair and big blue eyes. I would wake in the
morning and run to my step stool. Bracing my hand against the
wall for support, I would stand on my tiptoes, filled with excitement
and hope. I would look into my white wicker mirror that hung on
the wall. I would look for myself. I would look for my family. I would
look for a way to fit in. I would look forever.
That’s where I know her from. I’d see that face after every night that
I prayed and woke.
As I extend my sleeve over my fist and wipe my tears, I take the
mirror off the wall and say goodbye.
My name is Amy Skinner (birth name: 김인희). I am a transracial adoptee. I was born in South Korea, adopted at 5 months old, and brought to the United States. I am a wife and mother of two boys. I guess you could say that I spent my entire life trying to be “white passing”. I just wanted to fit in. I tried to like the things my white peers liked. I intentionally tried not to show interest in anything relating to Asian culture as to prove my “whiteness”. It was when the pandemic hit that my world began to change. Covid showed me that I wasn’t them, never was, never would be. I was forced to accept my Asian identity. It’s almost like I had an identity crisis. It’s a battle that I have fought daily since the start of the pandemic. I am learning to accept ALL of myself (Korean and American). I do not feel that transracial adoptees should have to choose a side. I am inspired by those brave enough to share their story and I stand with those who struggle.
I dabble in my own versions of creativity. Sometimes I put my feelings in the form of art to be shared and appreciated, but sometimes I just cannot properly express my story and that is when writing takes over. I find that it helps when I can just get those thoughts and feelings out of my head and into the world. I had no prior experience with the adoption community prior to KAAN 2021. During KAAN I learned that so much of my experience was echoed by fellow adoptees. I finally feel like my thoughts are not bad or wrong, but rather shared. The more I discover about my Korean culture and the adoption community, the more I feel like “myself”.
“I’ve Seen Her Before, a Long Time Ago”
I wrote this piece to describe my adoption as a feeling. I have always known that I was adopted. I have always been somewhat jealous of the mere appearance of my white adoptive family. I longed to be one of them. I wanted big eyes and blonde hair so badly and for as far back as I can remember.
This piece was about me looking back and moving forward.