A Puzzle with Missing Pieces

8/27/14

Dear Readers,

 

I’m updating you all with a slightly morose/whiny post.  The thought struck me tonight, and I can’t tell if I’m compelled to share it due to this being a repetitive feeling, the exhaustion of 12-plus hour days at work, being isolated from everyone except the cats outside of work, or a crazy mixture of all the above.  My mind’s in a half fuzzy, half nostalgic state, so I’m rolling with it.  Roll with me, won’t you?

TLC started a new reality show – yes, more reality TV – called “Who Do You Think You Are?”  Where celebrities use Ancestry.com and I’m sure a bright shiny penny to find out more about their family lineage.  It’s actually not half-bad, and uses reality TV as it was meant to be; capturing genuine reactions from people during certain situations, without producer-goaded drama seething like magma under a volcano.  (We’ll save that rant for later…)

Okay, back on topic.  The show is fascinating to me, because I like history, especially if genetics or genealogy can be thrown into the mix.  It’s thrilling to find a connection between the present and the past, at least in my opinion.  With this show, the celebs aren’t famous; for the hour-long episode, they are just a person (okay, rich person) looking for the story of their family, their heritage.  You witness genuine reactions to their relatives’ stories, sad or happy.  The episodes end with them feeling more complete after their discoveries and I’m sincerely happy for them for finding that missing piece.

But the show also brings out a sad and a bit selfish shade of me.  As much as these people talk about how complete they feel now knowing what happened in their family, I feel as if that’s impossible for me to experience, at least not without opening an even bigger can of worms.  You see, when I was barely four months old I was adopted from South Korea.  Yes, I got my citizenship, “waved” a mini flag in my chubby fingers and speak English pretty damn well, I just can’t run for office (You missed out big time, America).  It was a closed adoption, so none of my biological parents’ identity was shared with my adoptive parents and thus me.  Until I was eighteen, the files were locked away, not to be disturbed.  So I would think that Ancestry.com may take a while longer tracking down my information.

The thing is, I’m fine with that.  I love my parents for the life I’ve lived thus far, and I don’t regret being adopted at all.  I don’t even know if I want to find my biological family, even now that the file is technically available. But just the fact of not knowing any of my own history, or not having the opportunity to as relatives about our family line makes me feel slightly outside the picture, at times.  No family member ever made me feel like an outsider, but I can’t help but desire having what others have; a familial identity.  You can look that their faces, and see bits and pieces of their family in them, and even know what relative they got something from.  She got her nose from her dad, his eyes are just like his grandfather’s, and she inherited her protruding ears from her mother.  Being the visual person that I am, I can do that really well for everyone except myself.  It’s a downer sometimes, like I can’t quite get the knack of a game everyone’s playing.

I sometimes look in a mirror – I’m sure everyone’s done this before, I hope – and just stare at myself.  I look microscopically at every bit of my face, hair and skin.  I’ve got a thick wavy mop of hair that only a straight iron and ample smoothing solutions can tame and I wonder who I got that from.  My eyes are technically deformed for an Asian because I have double lids.  (No classic “chink” eyes); is that common in my bloodline?  Am I purely Korean, or are there smatterings of other nationalities inside?  Is the fact that I’ve never had a cavity luck of the draw, or is good teeth a strong genetic trait?  Would I have been the only leftie in my family?  Just a few questions that I’ve posed to the big black space that is uncertainty.

At the very least, it’s also frustrating not knowing my own medical history.  I’m getting to that point in my life where I’m going to have to start balancing out what genetic gold mine of health conditions I’ve been passed, and that’s hard to do with no control group, no source of comparison.  “Don’t know what’ll take me down first, my dad’s diabetes or my mom’s heart problems!”  Incidentally, I’m leaning towards heart, because my cholesterol…it’s not so good.

So to clarify, I never regret being adopted, but I sometimes feel incomplete.  I’m not sure how or if I’m ready to change this, but I cheer on those who do, like those on the “Who Do You Think You Are?” show.  I’m also a leftie with bad hair.

 

Love,

NiSH

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2 Responses to A Puzzle with Missing Pieces

  1. Mental Mama says:

    You’re also a kind person who is an amazingly talented artist and, as I recall from your days with us at the university, a delightful person to work with.

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