Navigating Between Living or Giving-Up

By J. Park

​​*Note to readers: The following writing mentions the topic of suicide.

As you begin to read this blog post, I’d like to address what led to releasing such thoughts and experiences. I can’t say this was sparked by one event or circumstance, but it’s been a compilation of time, heartbreak, current times, and finding a group of individuals, who “get it.” I felt inspired after meeting with KADs in a virtual setting, where we could openly discuss topics that we didn’t have to elaborate on in great detail. It felt oddly comforting and unsettling all at once. I recall sitting there and observing all the beautiful faces on screen, wondering how they were and if we shared similar thoughts.

I felt a sense of community I hadn’t experienced in a very long time and I found myself wishing we could spend time together at one big table, passing our favorite dishes around, and building a special family. I’ve had to let that sink in – family.

What is identity and why does it matter? I think it’s important to outright say that I’m a Christian, I believe in God and His love. I’ve found myself questioning over the past seven years what this means when He says my identity is in Him and what He has declared over my life. Prior to my relationship with God, I didn’t have any desire to relate or connect on this level. There is no glamorous way to state this…I tried committing suicide and found myself at the crossroads in a parking lot. A “divine intervention” is probably the best way to describe it because I’ve tried finding other ways and haven’t been able to. Nothing shot out of the sky, the ground didn’t shake, and I didn’t see stars shooting all around and certainly, no visible angels were standing there. I didn’t see the face of God or hear a loud voice telling me to “come hither.” This attempt was one of a few but this was the first one where I felt a shift within.

For thirty years, my identity was based on the narrative sewn around my being. It was what they said and what America said and what strangers said. In one country I was just a number and one letter, in another I was just another Asian face placed with white people. I didn’t fit the stereotype entirely because I was more developed than peers and I certainly didn’t fit with other “real Koreans” because I wasn’t pale or beautiful enough. The separation of identities has always been present with or without my permission. I recall being 12 years old, working hard to appear “more white” so, I’d try to find ways to make my small eyes wider without others noticing. Then it shifted into trying to appear “more Korean,” which meant not tanning in the summer, wearing lighter foundation, and ensuring that every strand of hair was perfectly straight. My childhood was made up of being cornered in school hallways being shamed for the shape of my eyes, children shouting racist rhymes in public, betrayal from educators, and being tormented by a white neighborhood.

I stopped blaming people who were unprepared for post-adoption and having a transracial child. What could they say that would override the abuse, neglect, and years of grief? After all, they contributed scars and I still left with questions of “Why did I have to go through this?” and “What was the purpose?” It is simply another grey zone in this treasure hunting process.