gallery Dear Adoption, I’m Nearly 60 Yet Still The 5 Year Old Version of Myself

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Dear Adoption, I’m Nearly 60 Yet Still The 5 Year Old Version of Myself

I will turn 60 next year and still the tears fall from my noticeable Asian eyes when I think of the 5 year old me…the little Korean Black girl. The 5 year old me who cried herself to sleep every night wanting so badly to be with her Omma again. The 5 year old me who still remembers the tears her Omma shed the morning of our last day together. The 5 year old me who held onto her little sister tightly on a dirt road where we were abandoned; noticing the nuns at a distance going in and out of a convent and shanties on the other side, not understanding what was happening.

I was adopted along with my sister who was 2 and I was 5, we were adopted by a Black military family who were stationed in Japan where we lived for the next 3 years. When I first laid eyes on my adoptive mother I thought I looked like her for we were the same brown so I thought I belonged. But when we moved to California I was reminded I was different, and of course by the taunting of kids who pulled their eyes to mock mine etc. People were curious as to why I looked different from my parents but I was instructed by my mother to answer “ask my mother” which translated to me that being adopted was a dark secret or something to be ashamed of. We neverspoke about my life prior to adoption in our household.

I grew up in a strict Apostolic Pentecostal home with both parents as preachers. I grew up “being Black” and that was my experience and point of reference. I was uncomfortable when I saw Asian people; I would not look at them as I felt they saw me as dirty. I was ashamed of my Korean heritage and desperately wanted to fit in. It has only been in recent years I reacquainted myself with Korean food and I absolutely love kimchi!!! And it wasn’t until way into my adult life that I started to share my memories of Korea for it was to painful to share without the tears.

I was fortunate enough to go on The Mosaic Hapa Tour to Korea in 2014. It ended my love hate relationship with Korea. To stand on the land and breathe the air of the country that birthed me and possibly hold my Omma’s soul in her crevices, how could I hate the country that rejected me still…no I cannot. I hope to go back and visit the countryside and speak to my Omma and let her know, I knew she loved me and that I loved her and have thought of her all my life.

Now at almost 60 I love and am proud of my Korean heritage, I used to sayI am Black and then evolved to Black and Korean and now I proudly say I am Korean and Black. I am not ashamed of who I am or my adoption story. If I had written this letter as a younger me I’m sure it would have more of an underlying tone of resentment or anger. I am still trying to piece my history together; not with the intent to find my Omma but to validate my memories. I cherish my memories of Korea and I would be happy just to have a few pictures, especially of my Omma for as hard as I try, I cannot see her face clearly in my mind. I was told recently “just look in the mirror and you will see your Omma”.

My journey as an Adoptee hasn’t been the best but it is mine and I embrace the bad and the good and I will always cherish and protect the memoriesof the 5 year old me because that is all I have, just memories no pictures.

Stefanie Blandon was born in 1957 in a small town in Korea called Inchon. She lived in a room above a store with her Korean mother and younger sister. They were very poor and their mother made a decision to give them up when Stefanie was 5 years old her sister was 2.  She recalls a man picked them up one morning and left them on the side of a road; on one side was a convent and on the other side shanties. They were at a city orphanage then transferred to World Vision, where her adoptive parents found them and adopted them both. Her adoptive parents were in the Air Force and stationed in Japan where they lived until she was 8, they moved to California until she was 14, then to Illinois where she graduated from High School and married shortly after. When her family moved back to California Stefanie stayed married for 15 years, from this union she had a son. At the early age of 6, she realized in order to draw people it took 2 lines to make arms and legs not just one as in stick figures. As a young girl Stefanie loved drawing ships like the one Christopher Columbus sailed in. She loved drawing and creating clothes and furniture for her Barbie dolls. Stefanie was raised in a very strict Apostolic, Pentecostal environment so her creativity was not nurtured. She was commissioned to do a portrait of their Pastor when she was 16 which was displayed in the pulpit. She was also commissioned to do a wrestling scene for her High School trophy display case by the wrestling coach. Stefanie’s art and creativity was stifled during her marriage, but after the divorce a friend bought her art supplies and she immediately started painting and drawing again. Since then she has had over 50 commissions to date. She loves the human form and expressions and capturing what she sees. Stefanie now resides in NYC and is an artist full time.

4 comments

  1. Stefanie! I love this post, thank you so much for sharing. I too started my post at 5 years old since I feel that’s the first time I started noticing things. So proud of your journey and feel blessed to know you.

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  2. Oh my goodness! One word… Power! Another word… Amazing! One more word… Inspiring! I never knew your story until this moment. It is sad, beautiful, inspiring, and unbelievable yet real. Only in movies have I seen the depiction of your story. To know that you actually lived it and survived it grips my heart! I am drawn all the more reason to be proud to call you my own. Though we have not seen each other since we were young teens, as I stated to you before I have always loved you and your sister. Over the years we’ve often, (my family and I) spoke of our fond memories of You both. My heart was elated to discover you on Facebook and even more excited to realize even I was remembered by you. After all he been many many years. You so sweetly excepted my connection which was no surprise to me because I knew that was just how sweet the both of you are. From the onset of our connection you have been in my prayers. I want for you what you desire in your heart. Your history is beautiful, your survival is miraculous as is your beautiful attitude. Just want you to know that you are absolutely loved! Also want you to know that this is one sister~cuz who thinks your craft is impeccable! 😉👍🏼😊. Thank you for allowing me to consider myself included as your family. I think God for your adoption and your story. Had it not been for all of those gifts I would never have met you and for that I am thankful!! Please continue to be encouraged and inspired and continue to share your story it’s beautiful, God continue to richly bless and keep you. My love to my other sister~cuz, (Sadonni) 😮 I know that is absolutely not the correct spelling of your sisters name, please forgive, just let her know that I love her too! 😉💓😊

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