perfect to who?

 

Perfection has many definitions. At school, perfection is all about getting an A, in sports it’s usually winning a game or event, in the workplace, it’s about making the most money. No matter what interest you may have, there is always a “perfect” way to do it. However, perfection is an opinion, so how do you know what perfect to strive for?

Because it’s junior year, I have been going on many college tours lately. After the student ambassadors talk up the academics and clubs the schools offer, they explain how to get into the school. Each college says, “The range of this year’s incoming freshmen ACT and/or SAT scores were…and the average GPAs were…and they were all in the top …% of their class.” These topics always shift the presentation of the schools from fantasy to reality. Although I, just like you, have been preparing for standardized tests all of my educational life, does that justify the significance of these tests? Should colleges put our fate into a test we take in one day, showing our academic ability in some subjects that were covered back in elementary school? With college education getting more important in order to have a decent job, the idea of having one test possibly determine my college career has become very real, very fast. As I have studied and prepared to try to do as perfect as I can on those tests, the importance of them has slowly diminished in my mind. No grade on test should determine my future, because even if I do perfectly on it, it won’t guarantee my perfect results pertaining to the future. It reminds me that no matter how important someone’s definition of “perfect” may seem to me, I can’t let it take over who I really am because no college, no sports team, no job interview, no audition, no person, will ever define who I will become to me.

life of a teenage adoptee: stereotypes edition

When I was younger, I didn’t understand race or skin color. I assumed everyone was the same (meaning everyone was white), including me. Then the earth-shattering moment came when I realized that I was not white. That I was different.

Unconsciously you register this news it two ways: Embrace that you’re not white or try everything in your power to become white.

Racism isn’t just black and white. In my experience, even teachers can be racist to Asians, which radiates to the students. Last year, for example, I was sitting in class and the teacher made a comment like, “Oh you remind me of a twinkie–yellow on the outside, and a wanna-be white on the inside.” Yikes. How do you even respond to that? Thankfully none of my peers found that joke funny and they all sat in awe from the comment that the teacher just said.

I’m not going to lie, I am flattered when people I’ve never talked to ask me to be part of their group for a project. I feel included and feel like they want to be friends, but then I always realize that many of them only pick me because I am the “Asian kid,” and they instantly categorize me as the smart one. It doesn’t help that a lot of people know that I want to become a doctor when I am older.

Not to mention all of the comments talking about my facial features: Almond eyes, yellow skin, small nose… Eye jokes are the worst. Pictures are the worst because my eyes are always borderline closed. And people are the worst because they always feel the need to comment on my thin eyes. Thank you Captain Obvious for saying my eyes look closed. I don’t own a mirror at home so I am glad you can tell me everything I don’t know. I hope you can also realize that was sarcasm because I was laying it on pretty thick.

In conclusion, I am not a bad driver, I do not eat rice for all meals, I am not that good at painting nails, I am not Chinese, I am not a math genius, I am not a black belt in any Martial art, I have not gotten all A’s, I don’t play golf, I don’t wear shoes at home, I do more than study in my free time, I enjoy more than just classical music, my English is understandable, I look different than most Asians, my parents are not the reason I want to be a doctor, and I have never eaten dog.

life of a teenage adoptee: after the morning calm edition

 

“After the Morning Calm” is a book that consists of essays written by Korean adoptees. The pieces of writing discuss growing up adopted (and Korean) in countries other than the author’s birth country. The universal topic of the book is the search for identity. Each author talks about their struggle for comfort with himself or herself as a Korean adoptee. They discussed the issues of growing up in mainly white communities, growing up appearing different than most people, being treated different, or those whose differences were glossed over by their families. Many also discussed how they eventually found peace their own way.

In many cases, adoptees find themselves having confusing, contradicting thoughts stemmed from their unknown past. They can feel anger, frustration, jealousy and remorse. “After the Morning Calm” gives a plethora of examples of how those “negative” feelings affected the authors and their ways of dealing with those feelings. For example, Kara Carlisle, the author of “Mirrors” describes her past conflicts with the way she looked. “…I stood in front of the mirror, I wept. Hurt and ashamed, I tried to really look at myself. Painfully and desperately, I stared. Whose face is this? Who do I look like…anyone?” Kara then describes the meeting of her birth father and how she realized she was no longer just a face. She was no longer a stray puzzle piece that didn’t fit in the world’s larger picture.

More times than not, if you’re adopted, your parents were not. This means as much as they try to understand how you’re feeling, they will never truly understand the internal contention that adoptees feel. After reading even the first essay, it was like the feeling of finally figuring out the impossible math problem, or when the doctor confirms an illness you thought you had but couldn’t effectively communicate your situation.

For any adoptee who feels like a really small, different fish in an ocean of identical fish, I highly recommend this book. The uniqueness in the authors, the stories each one had,and the ability for them to communicate in a relatable way were all things that made this book different than any book I’ve ever read. Any parent of an adoptee, this book should be on the top of your “To Read” list as well. Not many people or things will explain the thoughts of an adoptee better than this book will because of its blunt honesty and relatable authors. It will help open your eyes to the “side effects” of an adoptee with an unknown past.

 

life of a teenage adoptee: love trumps blood edition

When my parents settled down after getting married, the decision to start a family was not a question in their mind. They wanted children, a house, a dog, and any other typical aspects of a happy family. Unfortunately, my mom was told she was unable to have children. My parents were devastated but looked into other options. Adoption was their first, and final, choice (other possibilities at the time included genetic mutation, genetic cloning and illegal child abduction; all of which were vetoed).

My brother, Peter, was the first shipped over from Seoul, South Korea. Later the next year, I too had gotten on a plane from Seoul and arrived in my parent’s arms. Peter and I were only six months old, so the memories of those eventful days are non-existent. And no, my brother and I are not biologically related. Many people try to tell me that we are blood related, but I can assure you that we were just two strangers who happened to come from the same city halfway across the world to be adopted by the same people. Simple as that. After our arrivals, all of our lives changed forever. We moved into a new house (with our dog) and started our family.

When I was 5 years old and, my mom announced she was pregnant. Now looking back, that must have been one heck of a surprise to my parents if my they didn’t even think my mom could have children. But sure enough, on January 1, 2004, Julia was brought into our family.

The 5+ year age gap between all of us has always been a hurdle, especially after Julia had gotten out of the “cute baby” phase. My parents to this day wonder why us getting along is a struggle, but if you think about it, we, genetically speaking, are all from different people who had different interests, backgrounds, etc. Forget the United States, our family alone is a melting pot. Sure we all grew up under one roof and had the same parents, but that does not guarantee (and it has proven to not guarantee) that we are always on the same page. Personality clashes and different thought processes 99.9% of the time are the root of our futile disagreements.

Nature vs. Nurture: Where do social graces and personality fall under?

life of a teenage adoptee: first edition

What type of activities were you doing at the age of 14? Playing sports, hanging out with friends, taking middle school way too seriously? For me, all three apply. I’m sure most people reading this would agree that getting pregnant was not an activity you participated in, or thought about participating in while you sat through painfully awkward 7th grade health classes. And no, the idea of pregnancy did not apply to me either however to my birth mother, being pregnant was her age 14. I was born later in her 14th year and she made the decision, in brusque terms, to hand me off to some strangers in hopes that they were good people. But I mean for God’s sake woman, I could have been set up with a family like the Dursleys (Harry Potter reference for any uncultured readers), sleeping under the stairs and denied any ethical rights. I feel that fudging the adoption system isn’t rocket science so I feel more than blessed to say my parents today were/are the best case scenario for an adoptee. They feed me better-than-average food, a nice room and bed to sleep in and provide any and all things I would need to live a comfortable life. I am beyond lucky for their unconditional love and care for me. However, the struggle isn’t from what my parents have given me, but what my birth mother didn’t give me. So this is it: the life of a teenage adoptee.

abortion

Abortion is something people tend to make quick judgements towards and have a premature stance on the debate. It is a private topic however it is broadcast on the news all the time. The media gives this very serious topic a different persona: manipulating stories for entertainment, not hard facts. Abortion, in medical terms, is the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy. In this debate, there are two prominent sides: pro-life and pro-choice. Pro-life is a belief against abortions and these people have beliefs that are meant to protect the baby. Pro-choice is the belief that abortion is a woman’s choice and that the mother’s life should also be taken into account. Whatever side you are on in this debate, there are rights that are being violated. In both cases there are extremists, but a recent story is an example of how people can feel about this complicated topic. Robert Lewis Dear is a suspect in a shooting that took place in Colorado Springs late November 2015. Dear A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told CNN that he expressed anti-abortion and anti-government views,. He, ironically, shot three women and wounded nine more because they were at an abortion clinic, or a “Planned Parenthood clinic.” His beliefs are so strong that he killed the mothers (and the fetuses) to make a statement about pro-life. There are people who feel this strongly about pro-choice as well, but this example is showing just how serious this topic is to some people.

The majority of Americans are pro-choice. Their primary thinking is that the mother should be able to choose whether or not to keep her baby. In a medical emergency, they believe if the mother’s life is in danger, the mother should be able to have an abortion to save one of the two lives (in this case, the mother’s life). However, this idea of pro-choice is violating the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Whether or not it is saving the mother’s life, it is intentionally killing the fetus. The fetus is unable to advocate for itself, so it relies on its mother to make a decision to do what is best for both lives. Under these circumstances, it is considered manslaughter by pro-life believers. These conditions of a pro-life believer can be bent if the mother is truly in danger. However there are many cases where the mother just decides she doesn’t want her baby. This is true with many teenage moms and women who are single. Where is the line that makes “manslaughter” an act of mercy to the mother?

Pro-life believers may be the minority, but they are very vocal in America. They believe in the importance of keeping the baby alive inside the mother. They are very much against the idea of abortions and think under no circumstance should abortions be performed. This belief is a violation of the the Fourteenth Amendment. The “Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action” includes “a right of personal privacy, or guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy.” This right of privacy “is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.” The Fourteenth Amendment has five sections, but the first section relates to the topic of abortion. In Section One, it states, “…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property.” A baby, even in the state of a fetus, is a human and it is under Section One of the Fourteenth Amendment, a default citizen until it is born, therefore its life is protected under the law.

Abortion is an extremely controversial topic. Would choosing strictly pro-life or pro-choice for a law be a solution to this problem? Absolutely not. Choosing pro-choice would promote unnecessary abortions and would lead to many babies never being born because of the lack of responsibility of the mother. On the other hand, choosing the beliefs of just pro-life would lead to women performing unsafe abortions on themselves. The act of performing unsafe abortions remain close to 13% of all maternal deaths.  For example, women who are so desperate for an abortion do things such as inserting knitting needles or coat hangers into the vagina and uterus, douching with dangerous solutions such as lye, or swallowing strong drugs or chemicals.  Compromise would have to play a big part in the accommodation of both parties involved. There should be a law created, not strictly banning or legalizing abortions but having guidelines that must be met in order for abortion to be a legal procedure on a patient. If the mother of the baby is experiencing medical issues that could jeopardize her fertility, health, or death a legal abortion should be performed.  This would alleviate the argument of taking an innocent baby’s life if it is harming or killing the mother. This includes the medical diagnosis of depression and suicidal thoughts. In Ireland there was a woman who was refused an abortion despite asserting that she was suicidal and protesting with a hunger strike. She had been evaluated by two psychiatrists both of which diagnosed her as suicidal. She was still denied the right to an abortion. This case highlights that although a mother might be physically healthy to carry a baby, mentally and emotionally she might not be fit. Medical professionals need to take that into account.    The age of the mother would play a factor in the decision for an abortion. Having a mother under 13-years old would be an unrealistic burden for the family. Nearly four in ten teenage girls whose first intercourse experience happened at 13 or 14 report that the sex was unwanted or involuntary. That is about about 820,000 teens a year that become pregnant, and within that, 80% are unintended pregnancies. The mother of a baby being that young would not be able to take care of a baby on her own. Not to mention most of these cases involving young children are usually the result of incest. There was a case in Paraguay recently where an 11-year old girl was denied an abortion. The girl allegedly was raped and impregnated by her stepfather when she was 10. This leads into the third argument of how abortion should be handled. The victims of rape or incest would be eligible for an abortion. These mothers were forced into a position against their will. The responsibility of a child should not be another consequence for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

As previously stated, abortion is a controversial topic and no matter what the legalization becomes, there will be people who don’t agree. However, with a topic this divided, it is important to not be 100% pro-life or pro-choice. There are different situations where both would be ethical, and situations where they would both be unethical. With the compromised belief that has been suggested, it would not only please the most amount of people, it would also not threaten any pre-existing rights. It would be a compromise of not only the people’s needs but the government’s role that has already been established.