Lately I’ve been debating whether or not to just use my first name in identifying myself on the blog. To be honest, using Soo has been a little weird for me. I initially opted to use it out of privacy, especially as I am one year of graduate school away from entering a profession which upholds boundaries about disclosing information and confidentiality. My name is not the most common of names for individuals my age and my odds of a future client stumbling upon this section of my life are probably very slim. Even so. I want to try to stick it out as Soo. I can’t help but get all symbolic on myself and wonder if there’s a discomfort in having people address me by a Korean name. I will openly admit that I haven’t ‘owned’ my identity as Korean for a large portion of my life. Calling myself Soo is like wearing a pair of shoes that don’t fit quite right, but I want to give them more time and see if they don’t break in a little.
I have noticed that a number of Korean adoptees (and perhaps other transnational adoptees as well?) legally change their name back to their name given at birth. I very much respect this choice and feel that people are entitled to define themselves the way they want to. They are taking back a piece of culture lost. In the case of my name, my parents actually wished to keep my Korean name as my first name. However, the adoption agency flat-out discouraged them and they relented. This truly bothers me. What right did that agency have to tell my parents what to do? The agency’s argument was that I needed a more anglicized name in order to ‘fit in’. Korean name = inferior, foreign, not American. Anglicized name = superior, assimilated, American. (They probably didn’t use those terms, but that is my blunt interpretation.) I don’t blame my parents for giving me the name I have. They still kept part of my Korean name, Soo Hyeon, as my middle name—a move the agency also did not support. Ultimately they took the ‘expert’ advice they were given, hoping it would give their daughter a more comfortable life. Who doesn’t want their child to feel accepted? I still disagree with what the agency told them, but truth be told, I do like my name. It was chosen by my late father and I intend to keep it, just as I also intend to keep Soo. Goodness knows what I’m going to do when I get married.