Thursday, May 20, 2010

What's in a name?

If you’re reading this entry right now, then you know that I finally did it. I finally decided to start a blog about being a Korean Adoptee (KAD). The idea to do this started months ago, but I couldn’t find the time and/or conviction. And I couldn’t think of a name for the blog. I wouldn’t say naming your blog is akin to naming a child or even a pet.’s probably one notch below pet. Or your car, perhaps. But a good name is something to be thought about carefully, at least for me.

The point of this rambling is that I want to tell you why I settled on the name *Chopsticks Not Included. My childhood was pretty blissful. I knew I was Korean, but didn’t feel the need to think about it all that intensely. Being part of a white family and growing up in a predominantly white community felt normal, natural. I enjoyed attending Korean culture camps and a local adoption group. Life was good. Until adolescence (arguably a miserable time for, well, anyone). At 11 years old, I walked into a Chinese restaurant, only to have the hostess ask me where I was from and then speak to me in a language I did not understand at all. It was a mere misunderstanding, but it was the first seed of discomfort planted in me and it grew for years. From that point on, Asian restaurants became something to be dreaded. I still remember the shame burning on my cheeks when I went for hibachi with a friend and her family once. I, the only Asian individual among our group, was the only one who struggled with the chopsticks and had to ask for a fork. I watched my friend and her parents, who were not the slightest bit of Asian ancestry, use their chopsticks with absolute ease and felt resentment. I looked at the Asian server who handed me the fork and felt ashamed. So much for enjoying a nice teriyaki dinner. I was having an identity crisis!

Incidentally, my mom and I went to a hibachi restaurant for lunch today. I love Asian cuisine too much to stay away from any place that serves good bulgogi, sushi or Pad Thai. My ability to use chopsticks is not perfect, but I’m improving and I can’t ask for much else. The chopstick issue really symbolizes my experience as a KAD, trying to figure out where I stand between the culture I was raised in and the culture I was born in. For me, I’m realizing this is a lifelong journey. I hope to keep sharing that journey through this blog.


  1. I'm so glad that I've found your blog and it's perfectly named! My husband and I are in the process of adopting a child from Korea. We want to hear more about adoptee's experiences and are looking forward to hearing more of your story.

  2. Such a nice comment--thank you! And best wishes to you and your husband on your journey.