Archive | June 2012

Being an Asian (in the Land of Vikings)

The tough, brutal Vikings sailed on their Viking ships to faraway places, lands and countries to rob, taking what they wanted and living a very tough, hard life. They appreciated food and women, as men in all societies do, and often brought both back home with them. The typical Viking was a strong, tall, blond, macho man who knew how, or maybe how not, to treat women. Wild parties, plenty of mead and meat, and lots of blonde, pretty women to make the party complete.

And now, in 2012, some 800 years after the Viking era, another type of man has entered the Northern arena. These days the man of Viking heritage still has his hunting instincts intact, except that the Viking ship has retired and given way to Seven-Four-Sevens, and the destination en route to exotic women to bring home is no longer so much England, Germany and France but the far East, such as Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Why there? Mostly because of Western women’s demands for liberation and equality these days. They think that Asian women don’t demand or even think about such things. They’re looking for someone who will do as they wish, serve them well and take good care of them. In poor countries the only thing that counts for the family is to find a good husband who is rich and kind, and is willing to support and take care of their daughter. Or at least that’s what the Norwegian men seem to think.

There are some places in Norway with more mixed couples than others. In particular a place called Tresfjord, also known as Thaifjord for more or less obvious reasons. There’s even a TV series portraying the many couples of Norwegian men and Thai women who live there. I often say as a joke to my Norwegian Viking man that we should go there for a visit, because we’d fit right in. And the people would say, “Oh, look, he couldn’t get himself a Norwegian woman, so he had to go to Asia to find someone who would take him”. Many see the “import” of women as a last resort if they can’t find any local woman willing to get married. I’m sure that if we do go, the locals will say “Ah, there’s a new couple moving in. Poor guy!” 😉

In most cases, the men who get involved with Asian women in this way are honest and well-meaning enough. But they run the risk of getting a bad reputation because of the so-called “sex tours” where men, less honest, less well-meaning and often older, travel to Asia simply for the carnal exercise, or to use their image as wealthy Westerners to find themselves young, submissive women that they will bring home to serve as willing, obedient wives.

So what does this have to do with adoption? In a word, discrimination. People in Norway can’t tell apart an Asian adoptee and an Asian imported wife just by looking. I’ve had one awkward experience myself. I was at the supermarket, shopping, when a drunk man shouted at me, loud enough that everyone could hear, “How much per hour?”. I was so embarrassed, I could barely speak, and felt myself blushing like I had never done before. I noticed that everybody else were looking at me, and finally managed to stammer that “I am not that kind of woman”. It’s just about the rudest thing anyone has ever said to me. Looking back, I should have answered “More than you can ever afford in your lifetime”.

Some men seem to think that just because a woman looks Asian, it’s perfectly all right to treat her as a hooker. Even today, some people tend to treat me like a lesser person until they hear me speak Norwegian fluently like a native, proving that I’ve lived here my whole life. This may be typical for Scandinavia, since there are still very few coloured people compared to the white majority. I hope the future will look better, and that mixed couples will be more accepted. People are moving in from different countries, but it will take time to get accepted for what you are, and not be judged by your colour.

In the future I hope to find myself a little piece of Norway somewhere. I love the nature and the fjords of this country, since it is the only thing I know, although I come from far away and did not choose it myself, despite my looks which gives me away and tells everybody that I come from halfway around the world, from the Land of Morning Calm.

Half my heart and half my soul have embrace with love this country that I was sent to. The other half belongs to my land of birth, now alien to me, where my birth parents lie in their final resting place. Since I cannot meet them, I wish instead to go there and put upon their grave a rose, a little Norwegian flag and a beautiful, shiny stone from the Norwegian coast as a symbol of timeless Norwegian soil that has lasted from the Viking age, and long before that. I’d also like to play a musical piece, a sound of Norway, something to complete the circle that has so far lasted for more than 40 years.

Some candidate tunes:

And since I admire the Viking age, I’ll end with a few Viking quotes from the old Hávamál:

Go you must.
No guest shall stay
in one place for ever.
Love will be lost
if you sit too long
at a friend’s fire.

Be your friend’s
true friend.
Return gift for gift.
Repay laughter
with laughter again
but betrayal with treachery.

~ Khara

Shades of Grey

My blog has become my baby, a way for my Inner Child to speak up. Many feelings find their way to the surface. Apparently some who read my blog also get their feelings stirred up, feel insulted, and get angry about things that I’ve written.

Why bother reading my blog if it insults you? All adoptees have their own life experiences. I write from my own point of view, getting some release for old, sore feelings on my path to healing. I wonder why someone who doesn’t even know me, will lash out and complain about how I haven’t taken this or that into consideration in my posts, such as the Catholic church, and how awful life was growing up in foster care or as an adoptee in a Catholic family, or any other kind of Christian society, or any number of various hardships.

I am fully aware that there are many out there who carry painful experiences, and that there are many issues to disagree about. In fact, many people make an issue out of disagreeing. There are the eternal quarrels between happy adoptees and angry adoptees. Some really mean that their adoptive parents are their salvation. Some mean that we don’t have to choose between the adoptive family and the natural family. Still others like myself have lived through a hell, and grown from there.

There are thousands of shades of grey out there, and my blog is not a place to vent on behalf of everyone. This is my place, my life, my experiences, my feelings. I speak for myself. If you feel that I don’t say enough about things that matter to you on my blog, I encourage you to start making one yourself. There you can write about your own special journey, share your anger and frustrations, and tell the world your opinion about everything that matters to you. Don’t expect anyone else to write it for you.

Be creative and do this for yourself. I’m not interested in filling my blog with discussions that take me nowhere. I need to speak for myself, not for everybody else. The About section says what my blog is about. If you haven’t read that before you comment negatively, please do, and please don’t feel offended. This blog shows my point of view. I’d love to see yours, too.

And while it is nice to get feedback, angry complaints are annoying and draining. I am already emotionally drained, and I don’t need more weight to add to that burden. It may be naive to think that my reasons for writing my story would be good enough for everyone, without getting all kinds of aggressive, unpleasant come-backs from complete strangers. I know that sometimes I write about controversial stuff. That is my right in this little haven of mine. I have chosen to do this openly, allowing others to see where I stand. Maybe some will find that we have something in common, and perhaps feel a little less alone with their own struggles. The response I have gotten so far tells me that I’ve succeeded with that.

I thank all of you who have brought a spark to my life 🙂

Namasté to all on our different paths to peace.

~ Khara

Lies, Deceit and Thoughtless Accusations

Quote from Molly Holt:

“We wanted to place the children only in Christian families but there were not enough Christians to adopt. But we pray for each child to meet our Lord.”
(Taken from the exellent book “The search for Mother Missing” by Janine Vance)

Wow! Are the Holt agency, who send thousands of thousands of children out of Korea each year, God’s Messengers and Saviours for those poor children?

It’s really hilarious that the Holt organization couldn’t find more Christian families. Just when did they run out? Was it before 1970, when I got shipped away? And how could they play God and still send us out? Every year tremendous sums of money, millions of dollars, end up in their pockets. Thanks to their business skills in this game of trading with souls, today they have several agencies around the world that make even more money. How many more lies will they be allowed to tell, and how many more lives will they be allowed to destroy?

They have shown precious little concern for the children once they had been sent away. Instead, they only saw how much more they could earn, a deceitful and corrupt agency very much alive today. They even takes fees (presently US$400) from adoptees who want access to their own journals, their truth. Well, the truth in the journals are, sadly, mostly rather negotiable.

My adoptive parents received a letter of appreciation which dates back to November 15th, 1974. Here is what it says:

The valuable supports you have provided through Holt children Service with your humanitarian Love and devotion toward the improvement of the welfare of the underprivileged children has been of a great help to the growth of the children as well as to the promotion of the friendly ties existing between our two countries. In recognition of and appreciation for your contribution toward the development of child welfare programs in Korea as well as to the peace of mankind. I take great pleasure in awarding this letter of Appreciation.

Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, Republic of Korea.

This smells of politics and commerce to me, and lots and lots of money! Its makes me sick. Just think about it. There are more than 200,000 adopted Koreans now spread out over the hole world. When they ran out of Christians they just took everyone who wanted to adopt, so they become like Mammon in the Bible.

“There are millions of reasons, and all in dollars!”
(Edgar the butler, from Disney’s “Aristocats”)

When my adoptive parents received this letter they tore it in half in anger, because they were not satisfied with the girl they had received and paid for. A while later they put it back together with tape, and it is an ugly reminder from my very abusive childhood. It makes me puke when I see this letter, and I wonder if all adoptive parents got this back in the 1970s.

In the book “The Search for Mother Missing”, Janine Vance writes of an episode at an adoption forum where one adoptee told her story, and an adoptive mother responded by lashing out with the words “You know what? Too fucking bad”, in a room full of adoptees and natural parents. How can adoptive parents be so damn insensitive?

I could be the one standing on that stage one day, telling my story, and if I had received a comment like that then I would have exploded.

You adoptive parents do not own us! You did not write the first pages of our lives, they were already written. Get that into your heads! And please think before throwing out crap like that. Have you ever been in our shoes? My shoes? I lost everything that I had! My mother and my father, and my sisters, all other relatives, my home, everything that was dear and safe to me. Even the memory of my Umma and Appa, my mother and father, are gone! It was all taken away from me, and I knew nothing of my life until I had grown up, things that it should have been my birthright to know from the start! All those things that you who are not adopted take for granted! Can you imagine what it would be like to lose all that, every scrap of what your identity really is, and have it replaced with lies?

The biggest lie of them all is that Holt ships out children as orphans, even when many of them are not! I was not an orphan. I was not even supposed to be adopted. I had a father, who came back for me, but by then it was too late, I had already been sent away, and he never knew where to. He spent the rest of his life searching for me in Korea. I was put up for international adoption by the children’s home as an orphan, a child with no parents. And there are many more like me.

And even the ones who are orphans could still have grown up with relatives, be raised by uncles and aunts, or other family members, with their identities and histories intact. If Korean society would only change and grow out of their old ways where orphans are at the bottom rung of the social ladder.

I want one thing: The truth, and nothing but the truth.

~ Khara

I also recommend the excellent, warm-hearted book “The Search for Mother Missing” by Janine Vance, which I have just finished reading, and will probably read again and again. It’s available through The Vance Twins website.

Innerchild’s Longing

It was a new day. The alarm clock went off, and for a seven year old girl it was time to get up. After she put on her clothes, she went to the bathroom and then the kitchen. She took the bread and cut two big slices, and found the butter and a cup of milk. One slice was for breakfast and the other for her school lunch. Sometimes she’d put jam on the breakfast one. The one for lunch only had butter or mayonnaise, and she would wrap it in lunch paper and toss it in her little school bag. Then she quickly ate the other one and headed for school.

She walked the same way every day, alone, looking at the beach nearby and wishing that she could go there instead. She passed the bakery, which always smelled lovely. She would have loved to go inside, like many of the other school kids who came out again with steaming, fresh buns or cookies, but she knew that she couldn’t. All she could do was to keep dreaming of maybe, maybe one day. Minutes later she was right outside the school, just as the bell rang. She ran the last bit and got to class just on time.

The hours went by. Finally it was time for lunch, all the kids took out their boxes or wrapped lunch packs and started eating. The others had really nice lunches, neatly cut bread with all kinds of lovely things on; like salad, ham and cheese, chocolate spread or peanut butter. She tried to hide her chunk of bread with only butter on, took one bite at a time and covered the rest of the bread with paper while she chewed, embarrassed that she didn’t have a proper lunch like the others. They all got milk, though, which she thought was the best part of the whole meal. Many had brought apples, bananas or other fruit, but she never had that. Sometimes she wished that she, too, had a proper lunch box, a pretty one with Disney princesses, or Winnie the Pooh, and a bottle for the lemonade. But she didn’t dwell too long on this. Lunch didn’t last forever, and afterwards they’d all run out to play.

The rest of the day went by, until it was time to go home. Many of the kids got picked up by their parents, but she never did. She knew that no matter what weather, even thunder and lightning, her little feet would have to carry her back, because her adoptive mother was waiting at home, full of pills and living in a world of her own, expecting her daughter to come quickly and do her chores.

There were potatoes and carrots to peel and prepare for cooking. Mother took care of the other ingredients, though the hygiene wasn’t all that good. Sometimes she would drop a piece of meat, vegetable or other on the floor, which was never clean, but she would just brush off the worst of it and toss it into the pan with the rest, dog hairs and other dirt going with it.

On Fridays she had to clean the kitchen and hoover the floor around the house, and dust the bookshelves, then tidy her room. When all was done she would take the dog for a walk, her best friend who would follow her anywhere. They’d go to the beach, where she would find a big rock to sit on for a long while, thinking and wishing that she could just be a little kid like all the others, and have the same things they had. Responsible parents who would take proper care of her. A mother who would make her breakfast and school lunches, who would take her to town and buy nice clothes for her, and even a proper lunch box and lemonade bottle. A mother who might from time to time give her money to spend at the bakery with the other kids, so that she, too, could walk out with a cookie in her hands, or sink her teeth into a delicious, steaming fresh bun, filled with custard cream and covered with icing and sprinkled with grated coconut. A mother who would wake her in the mornings and make sure she had clean clothes to wear, who would tuck her into bed at night and read her a story before she fell asleep. A mother who would take care of her, instead of ignoring her. A mother who would let her bring friends home, instead of being afraid that others might see what home looked like.

What she had was an adoptive mother who sat in a chair all day, who couldn’t care less if her daughter was OK, as long as she had her smokes, her pills and alcohol. That was the ugly reality. And when her adoptive father came home from work it was time to hurry with dinner and do the homework, then get out of the way, retreat to her room to listen to her parents yelling at each other in the distance, and maybe sneak out for a while, along with her four-legged friend.

~ Khara

Unfair Accusations

Over the last few years I’ve become more active on the computer and on the Internet. And boy, have I learned a lot since I started, good and bad. I went from simply reading the news, to being welcomed into Facebook groups.

Lately I’ve been drawn into quarrels in some of those groups, and I never thought it could get that ugly. It started from a very little incident, when I was being honest and told one of the groups that I know and am friends with a member of another group. Then all hell broke loose. I was kicked out, and received really ugly messages from the admin of that group, written in a vile language which I won’t repeat here, accusing me of being a liar and a spy, and of copying threads from that group to the other one where my friend is.

Have they gone mad? How can someone who doesn’t even know me send me words so vicious that they keep me from sleeping at night, and make me sick to my stomach? It’s emotionally draining, but I’m stubborn and have been seeking justice. I’ve cried out on my own Facebook wall, and after I’ve spoken with the other admins of that group things are looking better. I’ve been offered to come back into the group, but I’ve demanded an apology from the one who sent me the ugliest, most sickening message ever.

The last few days have been so painful, it has nearly made me puke. This incident has torn up old, deep emotional scars, the feeling of not being believed, that I have to prove that I am honest, and not a liar. When I grew up, these feelings were on the daily agenda. I was always the one who got the blame, although I didn’t do anything wrong. Always forced to apologize, even though it wasn’t my fault, much as I told the truth they made sure I knew that they never really believed me. And even today that feeling controls my life. I’m sick and tired of feeling as if I carry the weight of the world on my shoulders, both in real life and now on Facebook. It’s not fair! And that’s why I must have that apology.

I wonder if it’s the same thing that happens when people go on Facebook as when they go driving, that they leave their manners at home, just letting go of kindness, honesty and politeness, and let their middle fingers do the talking and not give a damn about how they make others feel. They think only of themselves, and how to turn things to their own advantage, by driving others down into the mud if that’s what it takes.

A group administrator has absolute power within the group, and some enjoy that power a little too much. It’s their decision who gets to stay, and who gets kicked out because their opinions, their feelings or the people they know may not be quite to the admin’s liking. And if those people get hurt, it’s not the admin’s problem, it’s just a little bit of extra spice to their day, and they don’t care if someone else loses sleep over it.

So if you’re a group admin, be careful how you use your powers. Be aware of your responsibility, and the fact that you’re dealing with real people and real feelings. Be as respectful and considerate towards others, as you expect them to be towards you.

~ Khara

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”
— Thumper (Disney’s “Bambi”)