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I suppose I am looking to tilt the view a bit when I think about the term ethnic heritage. When asked to describe what type of role my ethnic heritage plays in my everyday life, I think it is important for me to first understand what that term actually means. Heritage being something that can be passed on or inherited through birth and ethnic meaning a belonging to a group consisting of similar characteristics. Initially my mind conjured up images of han-bok and banchan, Samsung and Hyundai, soju and karoke. But these things are inherently not cultural influences on my life. These are the things that are part of a culture foreign to me, a culture learned all too late in my life, a culture that was left behind in Incheon 23 years ago.

The way in which I wish to tweak my view on cultural heritage revolves around being adopted and more specifically being a Korean adoptee. This is my ethnic heritage, this is what I have inherited from birth, this is the group whom I associate mostly with, it is this that influences my life day in day out.

I was born into this and from the second I was placed in foster care and from the moment I was sent to America, I was forever bound into this little “nation” as it is.  My inheritance is an aesthetic that does not match the name and the voice, that is what was passed on to me. I am not the first to be welcomed into this most unique culture of transracial oversea adoptee and I surely won’t be the last. But I am truly proud to be part of it.

I feel for my brothers and sisters whom are part of this transracial overseas adoption nation of ours. The ones who need blood and marrow, that find the doors that should be left open to them are securely bolted and lock. I relate to those of us whom have inherited a life time of questioning and self doubt. I hold a great deal of sympathy for those of us who just want answers and closure to things that are so easily assumed for people who are not part of our position. My heart is truely with those who shoulder this duality everyday of being many things to many people all at the once. We the object of desire for so many, while at the same time we are the point of contention for someone else mired past. We were born into this without much say and as we mature and grow to find our voices, we still find that our vision and opinions go unheard or misunderstood.

There is not a day that goes by that I am not left wondering. The eternal “what if’s?” ring loud and clear in my heart. I love the ones who adopted me and took me into their home, but what if my mother would have kept me? I often find myself feeling depressed and overwhelmed, were these characteristics possessed by my birth mother or father dealt with and are they part of my genetic inheritance? Could I ever just truly blend in somewhere? If only the adoptee island were a real place which I could go.

For me it is quite essential to understand that as I will probably never belong to what most would assume is my “ethnic heritage”  i.e. Korea. It is also important for me to accept that the struggles that a transracial adoptee encounters and shoulders are things that will also never be widely accepted or highlighted here in America. I do find solace knowing that I am however a part of a group and that is the Korean adoptee nation.