Category Archives: Glee

The Beautiful Sea of Adoptees

After 44 years of puzzled looks and numerous questions about my family medical history, I have found my gang.

My gang is a group of people who are diverse. They are varied. Some are angry. Some are witty. Some are awesome … like this young man.

Some have revolutionized the lives of many like this man.

Some entertain us each week.

Some are less in the spotlight but even more inspirational. They have adopted their own children. They continue to care for other adoptees by leading groups of adoptive families. They travel and speak to adoptive families.

They foster a love of the arts in school children. They are the birth children of adoptees who have committed their lives to supporting future adoptees.

All have entered my life in the last two years. I am grateful for this enriching wave of people … this sea of adoptees.

Gangnam Style makes us all feel Korean … or not.

Today, Gangnam Style, a video by the artist PSY has hit more than 835 million views. It is the most watched video of our time.

Interestingly, this video on its own has opened up the Korean culture to mainstream. As a middle-aged woman, I first heard about this song at the ChuSeok celebration this past September. At which time, my twelve-year-old son gave me the “Seriously, Mom, you haven’t heard this?” look.

So now, it has finally reached my sphere and entered Glee. This week, the Glee cast will perform their version of this song.

The question this brings to my mind is “How does Jenna Ushkowitz feel in all this?” The actress is a Korean adoptee, like myself. From this snippet, it appears that she feels somewhat out of place trying to learn the correct Korean pronunciation.

Here is a glimpse of what we all as Asian adoptees feel at some point in our lives. We desperately feel that we are just like any other American. Yet, we are lumped in the Asian category, and in Ushkowitz case, we are typecast as the Asian student … overachiever, dating within our race, going to “Asian” camp.

We aren’t as simplified as that, but the media portrays us all as stereotypes to some degree. To be fair, Glee works in these stereotypes for all its characters.

I’ll sit back this week and enjoy the Glee version of Gangnam Style with Jenna Ushkowitz giving it her best Korean performance! Perhaps we will see more character development as well.

So, it’s hip to be Korean, at least to dance to Gangnam Style!

Debbie Downer, Mother Needed

It was a rough day in the world of motherhood.

My husband was yet again out of town and had been for a while.  The girl woke with an earache.  The boy was dealing with a middle school transition.  The house decided that it needed more repairs and updates. I felt over extended.

As with many families in this country, we are far away from any support system.  I rely on a few friends, but I could really use family.  At the end my of frustrations, I decided to veg out, watch a little TV.  “Ah,” I thought, “Glee.”  This clip is from a recent episode where Rachel sees her birth mother again. The birth mother is trying to make things right for Rachel and for her newly adopted child.  Let’s just say, it was not what I was expecting.

More and more media are incorporating the adoptive mother and father.  The recent Kung Fu Panda movie also highlighted adoption with the main character not knowing his roots.  His crane father shows emotions my mother had.

I remember an instance that I wish I could take back.  I was a preteen and angry.  I wrote my mother a letter that said, “I wish you had never adopted me.” The hurt she felt cannot be erased.  That was surely a rough day in motherhood, one I cannot fully understand.

Today, I was wishing for my mother, not the one who gave birth to me, but my real one.

Korea is my mother.

My husband recently came home obsessed with another woman.

He explained that she looked similar to me and had the same mannerisms. Every move I made was followed by a “Do you realize how Korean you are?”

This from the man who has lived with me for the last 17 years. He knows everything about me. And I feel at times we’re truly one person. But that day, he viewed me as a different person.  He had made a discovery.

That week, during his work trip, he had met a Korean American woman. He said he felt he had seen my twin. While she certainly did not have a Southern drawl, she did have my fastidiousness. And he felt her mannerisms mirrored mine.

This seemed to intrigue and disturb him all at once. I think he felt he knew everything about me: my upbringing in Tennessee, my Puerto Rican roots, my lack of interest in my biological background. But now, he had seen glimpses of my Korean heritage. Glimpses he felt I knew nothing about.

Sure, I do not know that much about Korea. But recently, my friends have been educating me on all things Asian. It has been a journey, but a personal one. All this time, I realized that I hadn’t shared my discoveries with him.

Once again, there is a reminder that I am not completely sure of who I am. I do know myself as a Korean-adopted Tennerican, but I do not know myself as a Korean.

I recently watched my first episode of the television program, Glee. In it, a young teen, raised by adoptive fathers finds her birth mother and longs for a relationship. The birth mother seems to sum up my quandary and says, “I’m your mother, not your Mom.”

Korea is my mother but not my Mom.