Posts Tagged ‘identity’


Today on the Facebook page, Is Adoption Trauma?  I read a quote by B.J. Lifton that starts with, “An adopted teenager once told me, “I feel there are two teenage me’s. The me that was born but didn’t live. And the me who was not born, but lived the life I have today.” Without understanding she was expressing the split in the self that so many adoptees make in order to survive….”

It brought me tears as I recalled my own life as an adoptee….

The following  are excerpts from my memoir/diary that I wrote about 25 years ago when I was in my 20s. This is actually a third version of my memoir/diary. I had written the first version during my teen years but destroyed it by fear someone would read it; I also destroyed the second version while re-writing this version to be read by my doctor who had encouraged me to put my life on a paper.  It’s in French, so I translated it below with comments in italic if needed.

les3moi002“Since I left Korea, there are 2 other persons in me: the 3 persons live always together but people only see/saw one person. There is me, the real Kim Myung-Sook who lived in Korea. When she came, she was not the one my mother wanted. My mother wanted a living doll, a baby to cuddle. That’s why, for my mother, there’s a 2nd Kim like the one my mother wanted.  The real me, the one who was born in Korea, she knows what real life is, she knows life is sad and she sometimes feel she’s too old; she lives in the real [life] while hating the real et she leaves the place to the second Kim.
The second Kim is the one everyone knows [of me]. She was a baby when she came, she became older with  moving house [from Maine, USA to Quebec, Canada], she became older but she’s of her real age. [I meant that everyone paid attention to me and treated me as if I was a baby. But less than six months later I was seen as a girl of my age because I had grown up and nobody cared about me], she’s lucky to have all the material comfort, lucky to be adopted. She’s a child who doesn’t suffer. She’s the one who hides the truth when the 1st wants to show up. This one, she evolves normally as expected by everyone.
The 3rd is the one that was invented by the  1st for the nights to fall asleep, only to pretend. This one is not really a person, it’s only like a TV character. At the beginning when I lived in Maine, this 3rd was sleeping in Korea and she was dreaming  everything the 2nd lived and nobody was able to wake her up. [I meant that I pretended to be asleep in Korea and that everything was only a dream or a nightmare] When I was at Collège Français [a primary school], I changed the scenario, I pretended to be the daugther of an orphanage director. It was a little what I wished when I lived at St. Paul, to have parents but to stay there.
Finally the 3rd didn’t really exist since it was the 1st who was pretending to live as another person and this person was exactly the 1st who shouldn’t have been, as she is, if she had live like…
I can not explain everything!
Anyway, if I hadn’t pretend to live the life of the 3rd, I would never have succeeded with perfection to be the 2nd everyone knew and I would have ended up being crazy.”

Today I would say all this differently: adoption killed the Korean in me and adoption created the Quebecker in me.

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Her given name is Myung-Sook. Her surname is Kim.

This body I call mine belongs to her.
I grew stronger while she became weaker.
I began to talk when she began to lose her talk.
I was given a name when she lost her name.
I was born when she was buried.

I am because she is.
I live with her memories in her body.
I remember her past life in Korea when I didn’t exist yet.
She was proud of being a Korean.
She thought she was pretty with her beautiful big eyes.
She loved her name and was proud of it.

She’s not because I am.
Her life began to end when I learned to say and write my name.
My name is Kim Goudreau. I’m a Quebecoise de souche (“old stock Quebecker”).
I’m ashamed of Korea and being a Korean.
I wish I was entirely White.
I hate my ugly slanted eyes and my flat nose that make me a foreigner here.
I loathe my middle name, Myung-Sook. It sounds too Chinese and it’s irritating to my ears, just like fingernails being scratched on a blackboard.

Myung-Sook and I are totally different but we were one at the beginning of my life/at the end of her life.
This hand I call my hand wrote her name everywhere while she was dying.

She’s buried deep within me.
She’s my departed true self.
I am not me, I am her.

Every cell of my body yearns for her.
I’m homesick with grief when she yearns for her home country.
I’m wistful when she yearns for her lost language.
I’m nostalgic when she yearns her lost name.
I want to die when she yearns for her departed true self.
I want to die so that I can be reborn as her, my true self.

*hiraeth: a homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed; a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, or an earnest desire for the past.

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I’m Quebecoise. She’s Korean.
I’m a Scorpio. She’s an Aries.
I was conceived when she was made a paper orphan.
I was bought, she was sold.
I was being born while she was dying.
I grew stronger while she became weaker.
I began to talk when she began to lose her talk.
I was given a name, she lost her name.
I was born when she was buried.

I’m not me. I’m her.
I live in her body with her memories and her ghost.
I lost my true self when I lost her.

I’m Quebecoise.
You snatched away everything but my memories.
You penetrated me forcefully with your mother tongue, your thought and your culture
while emptying me of my mother tongue, my thought and my culture.
I speak like you.
I do things like you.
I think like you.
I have a French Canadian name.
But you reject me because I’m Korean.

She’s Quebecoise. I’m Korean.
She’s a Scorpio. I’m an Aries.
She was created when I became a paper orphan.
She was exported from her country, I was imported to this country
She was being born while I was agonizing.
She grew stronger while I became weaker.
She began to talk when I began to lose my talk.
She was given a name, I lost my name.
She was born when I was buried.

She lost her true self when I lost my self.
She is because I am.
She’s not her. She’s me.

I’m Korean
I lost our talk.
I lost our culture.
I lost my self.
I lost my identity.
I lost everything but my memories of our life together,
because you rejected me, sold me, kicked me out from our land, exported me to a foreign land when I was a little girl.

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Below is a page from a book that I read several times after my “arrival day”.

A book Myung-Sook read from Déc 1975 to 1976/77

As I had only two books written in Korean, I read them about 100 times until I lost my mother tongue and became a Francophone Quebecer.

In a TV programme, a French-speaking Quebec artist, adoptive father of a Chinese girl, said that given the fall in the birth rate in Quebec, the Quebec governement should help couples who want to adopt in foreign countries, because “those children become Québécois pure laine”, he said, in a short time and it doesn’t cost a cent.

It’s easy to assimilate adoptive children from foreign countries. It’s true that you can make them believe they are white, you can make them believe your ancestors are theirs and you can make them believe they are Québécois pure laine. More you adopt them young, the easier it is to assimilate them.

Even I, adopted at 9 years old, have been remodeled in the image of my adoptive parents and I became a Francophone Quebecer like them
within short time. Starting with my birth culture, I was emptied of everything Korean to be filled with everything Quebecer within two years.

You can easily snatch a child from its mother, from its country and its culture; you can empty it like you would empty a vessel, and you can fill it with your culture, but you will never be able to fill the hole you created by emptying it; you can fill with your love, but you will never be able to clean cut the invisible thread that connects the child to its roots.

I’m a Francophone Quebecer, but I have a big hole in my heart since I lost my mother tongue and original culture. The greatest sorrow of my life is losing my culture and language. Sometime, I just want to die to stop the hurt.

People say don’t complain and study your culture. I actually remember the way I used to live in Korea, but I remember everything as if it happened in French; the Korean culture is not natural to me, it’s stranger to me.

Do you really think that studying Korean culture in a book/movie would bring me back my culture? If it was that simple, then everyone who studies Korean culture could become Korean, and I would feel no hurt. My original culture is taken from me forever.

Since I became adult, I tried few times to relearn my mother tongue in order to reacquire a part of what was stolen from me, but without success.

What did it give to me to try to relearn my mother tongue? Absolutely nothing, nothing than hurt.

I’m trying again since 2009. Maybe, I’m trying to fill the hole created by adoption, the hole made bigger and deeper by the assimiliation. Below is a page from a book that I’m using.

A book I'm studying since the end of 2009

The greatest irony of my life is that I’ve been assimilated by people who often discussed and still discusses identity and autonomy issues on national level. The Parti Québécois introduced the “Quebec identity bill” which proposes the predominance of the French language and the protection and promotion of Quebec culture. This is even more ironic for international adoptees who couldn’t defend to keep their mother tongue and culture and have lost their identity to become francophone Quebecers by force.

Mrs Pauline Marois, leader of the Parti Québécois, said that the francophones of Quebec have preserved their culture and language by perseverance. It might have been true in the past, but it’s no longer true today. Preserving your language and culture by passsing it by force to the children adopted abroad has nothing to do with perserverance. It is what I call the modern colonization: instead of invading and transforming a country abroad, you bring their children here to colonize their bodies.

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