Adopting Yourself – By: Jason C. Cushman

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The ironic part about being an adoptee is that the first and final steps of our lives are the same. Just as we must accept being adopted in the first place, we must also accept ourselves for who we are in the end. That acceptance, that journey, can take a lifetime to occur and not all adoptees ever fully accept who they are. Those people caught between the want of “what ifs” and the “hard place of reality” never fully live life as they should because they are stuck living half their life with regret. I have known that place myself and can recount times in my childhood when I wished for anything but what was real. I wished to be someone else.

Adopting yourself is a lot easier when you know where you came from. You have a starting point and regardless whether that position in life is a good one or not you still have something to build off of. Life is hard enough without feeling like you must add additions to a question mark. That is what it feels like for many of us that are missing years of our past as we are forced daily to build upon that emptiness that we often feel. The old saying goes to not build your house upon the sand and mentally I can relate to this analogy. When you pile memories upon clouds of hope sometimes those clouds explode and your hope comes tumbling down. That shouldn’t stop you from hoping, but as humans we learn to become wary of things that can potentially cause pain. Hope is a good thing, but it can also become the bearer of the worst pain imaginable.

Many adoptees encounter struggles with depression as they struggle with images of themselves. When you walk for too long in the land of depression you become numb to feeling and your daily life flashes like a fading memory. Only strong and personal moments are fully captured and those glimpses into our lives are often garbled by the mental struggle that we are enduring. Sometimes the memories are pictures without sound and other times they are words or phrases that stand out in the night. I have held depression’s hand many times and my head is full of glimpses of our encounters.

I remember one day when I was fully under depression’s influence and I was taking klonopin daily to fight the shadows of doubt over whether or not I wished to live. I was standing in the kitchen of my parent’s home staring out the window while it rained. I watched as before my eyes the rain suddenly stopped falling and hung midair as if nature had rebelled against its natural course. My father walked up behind me and saw me looking out the window.

What are you looking at son?” he said with concern in his voice.

I hadn’t realized that I had begun to cry. I looked at him and said in a near whisper, “the rain has just stopped midair Pop. It won’t fall to the ground. It is the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.” A week later I tried to kill myself.

It is easy to consider things in retrospect and to wish you had done things differently. I have many regrets in my life, but some of the hardest actions to accept from my past have been in relationship to my adoption. Actions I did or did not take when the opportunity presented itself, those are the memories that are on constant replay in my mind. It is a hard thing to live life by tracing the lines of regret from our past, but often in our depression we do this. We do this because the saddest times often outshine the happiest from our lives. It is far easier to focus on what we don’t have than what we do. That is very human.

When I was two years old my mother left me on a street in front of a police station. In the Korean culture this was translated into the mother no longer wanting the child. I was not alone though, I later found out she left me a hand to hold onto. A five year old sister I have since searched for was also left on that street to hold my hand and wait for a mother that would never return for us. She must have had half a heart though because she did come back for my older sister later on… but left me behind. Sometimes in the night I imagine I can still feel her hand. I often wonder if she remembers me.

I was adopted and sent by plane to a black and white world. At 3 years old it did not take long for me to realize I was in a world I did not fully belong. Growing up as an Asian American in the deep south of the Unites States is a challenge for anyone. That challenge is increased astronomically when you are unsure of who you are and what you are supposed to be. The only thing I remember being sure of was that I was different. My eyes were small, I was small as well, and my family wasn’t created from the cookie cutter mold of southern society. We were multi-cultural and at the time that was still visually a strange thing to see in everyday life. I found it hard to accept myself in a society that obviously did not accept me.

I found for most of my life I was forced to continuously adopt the image that I was. Growing up in a black and white world with almost no Asian friends was tough. I had no point of reference for what an Asian should look like, act like, or even just “be.” I can recall many days where I would return home from grade school and I would slam my door shut on society as a whole. A society that chased me in my dreams, a society that made me ashamed of my skin color. I would look to the sky and pray to any god that would listen to please make me a different race. Black… white… it didn’t matter at that point. What mattered was being accepted and I simply knew that I would never be accepted clothed in the skin I wore at the time. I remember praying for this many times through tears of confusion because I still could not comprehend why I was so different. I simply knew I was and I hated it.

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Jason C. Cushman

-Opinionated Man

@smokendust

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46 thoughts on “Adopting Yourself – By: Jason C. Cushman

  1. Oh! This touched home base so divinely! Being a native to the Americas. I can relate to living in a society that does not appear to have a place for you. It took me quite some time to truly embrace my Native American heritage outside of stereotypical realms and reestablish the place for myself and my future children’s children on these, my own, lands. It’s been hell, and nothing less, growing up in a society that chooses for natives what natives should look like, sound like, be like– if that makes sense.
    It’s wonderful knowing you are now able to reflect back as both the adoptee and the adopter and see your missteps. I truly wish more people would begin to accept themselves and all of their present and past circumstances in such an admirable way because there is so much more to gain: a much better foundation for one’s future than shifting “sand” for starters. There is always a place for You; otherwise, You wouldn’t have been honored with the breath of life! Thanks so much for sharing your spirit.

    Biwa & andestagōnwah ♥
    —♥E^2

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is beautiful and heartbreaking. You are a brilliant writer, Jason. Are you writing a memoir? I am still working on mine. It is HARD, isn’t it?? OMG. A few months ago, I unfollowed all blogs, and hid my blog, so I could focus solely on my memoir. But I got lonely and maybe a little crazy, so I am back. But now I am only following a select few.

    You are the same age as my younger son. I wish I could give you a mom hug.❤

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  3. A beautifully honest account of your early life Jason and I am privileged to have been able to read it. Thank you for showing true courage in opening up and sharing this with us… xxx Sending a big hug! xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Adopting yourself. That is a very brave thing to do, and one that doesn’t sound easy at all. For one, you really have to stand up and convince yourself you have a place in this world. As you mentioned, focusing on what we don’t have is very human. None of us want to be left behind – that is human nature too. We all want some place to be and some place to go to. I admire your strength throughout your life. It is something you had to build for so long.

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  5. Jason my friend thank you so much for your honesty and telling us your story. It makes more sense now then it did before. I spent some time in a children’s home when I was growing up because my Mom was an alcoholic now I know this isn’t the same thing but it might give me a little bit of understanding not about the way your feeling cause I have never walked in your shoes but I have walked a few miles in mine and I can tell you that my Mom being carted off to jail and then rehab my 2 youngest brothers being taken to family and me having to go to a completely different spot felt like I was being punished for my Mom’s sins. It took me a long time to realize if they hadn’t put me in the children’s home I would have ended up dead up or living somewhere a lot worse then the home. I finally got adopted out after living 3 years in that home I still wasn’t sure why and to this day I wonder why my adopted parents took me in I gave them a lot of problems but in the end they won me over with their love and patience. They are both gone now along with my Mom but my adopted brothers and sisters and I keep in contact along with my brothers and sisters from my original family..I guess what I am saying is hang in there Jason there is people who care and I think that after reading what you have wrote I think you have adopted yourself and love yourself just fine too. Thank you for being here to listen and let us listen to you. You are an important part of our lives. Take care of yourself and God bless you always. ❤ Kat

    Liked by 2 people

  6. My sister in law is an African American adopted by a Caucasian familyin the south. She talks often if being a toddler and noticing icy glares in her direction, leaving her to be reminded that she is an outcast in the one place your supposed to feel whole, with her family. Sometimes it’s difficult to empathize, not for lack of trying, but I could never understand fully considering I was raised by a mentally unstable single mom, and I have to learn that the grass always seems greener.
    Last night at my small group one of the girls announced that they would be beginning a domestic adoption process. This will be their first child as planned, hoping to translate to the child that they were so incredibly wanted that they were not left to be adopted as an afterthought. I wonder if that will make a difference in the turmoil?
    What an amazing beautiful share. Thank you for so much insight.

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  7. Your story is so heart-wrenching. I can clearly see how the cultural/racial makeup in your community compounded the sense of alienation and complicated the development of a stable identity. Most people start with a grounded sense of belonging to a history and place and people, and I can’t imagine how difficult it was to be drifting untethered to any of those elements. I hope that your experience since those days have brought you strength, wisdom, and understanding, as well as compassion for your younger self and the struggles you endured.❤

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Extremely open and honest.. I was adopted and knew from a very young age that I was… It was such a norm for me, I figured everyone else must be too!. One diff I had a sister that was also my mother, since it was my grandparents that adopted me. Thus, I definitely didn’t have the same hurdles as you. But then again you and I didn’t have a day at the age of 16 or 18 when we stumbled upon some paperwork and had our world/reality turned upside down from the discovery of the family secret! I have a younger sibling that was adopted out and have done some searching to no avail. Not a lot of information to go on, since everyone except my children and younger half bro have passed away.

    In all.. I think the saying, that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger…is true… and look how far you have come! Hats off and arms outstretched for a hug… (it’s a mom thing).🙂

    Kind regards and keep moving forward – K

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  9. Reblogged this on mira prabhu and commented:

    “When I was two years old my mother left me on a street in front of a police station. In the Korean culture this was translated into the mother no longer wanting the child. I was not alone though, I later found out she left me a hand to hold onto. A five year old sister I have since searched for was also left on that street to hold my hand and wait for a mother that would never return for us. She must have had half a heart though because she did come back for my older sister later on… but left me behind. Sometimes in the night I imagine I can still feel her hand. I often wonder if she remembers me.”

    This is Jason Cushman writing poignantly about his journey…I too had a close friend who was adopted and suffered intensely…finally, in his 30s, he tracked down his mother and discovered she was a teenager when she had him, in a southern town in America long long ago, when premarital sex and its consequences was considered unforgivable…i tried to track him down recently but no luck…I just hope he is okay today. Thank you, Jason, for sharing your story with us. You are so fortunate to have been been adopted into a wonderful family…and your honesty will help many.

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  10. Thank you for your honesty. You never know who you might touch and help. My young son is also an adoptee from South Korea, our beautiful and precious child! His school district and our town is very diverse and inclusive. Yet I still worry about him and wish for his best, always.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Jason, Are you able to translate that document in the picture? I’d be proud to adopt you, but the mystique of our being the same person would be ruined, plus you’d be my brother. It’s OK, mum’s got enough food for all of us. I’ve always wanted a brother and I’d kind of be proud to call you mine.~DM Wait, you’d be a Mumple. Could the world handle two? It might explode.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. That is so honest and open Jason that it is profound. A couple of comments and observations. You are not the first I have heard describe serious issues with taking Klonopin. Perhaps there are millions taking it and only a few issues, but it seems to me that everyone I know who has crossed paths with Klonopin has come out worse for the experience. You are not alone in that. I used to tuck in the southern states and their racism is notable. if you ain’t like the good ‘ol boys,then you ain’t shit. it would be the very last place I would place an Asian or any other minority adoptee. it was not you or anything you said or did or stood for – it was their prejudice that made you so uncomfortable. It is also hard when there is no ethnic imagery in the society – i.e. you never see anyone or images of anyone like you. My Mum was involved in removing abused children and placing them in care. She was delighted when she finally found some Native North American dolls that she could give to First Nation girls who were placed in non-First nation communities. It seemed to help the girls a lot in accepting their heritage.

    It is so impressive that you survived the challenges that you faced in every society that you lived in. It is not possible that a small child could ever be abandoned because of who they were – it could only be for financial reasons – the inability to give a good safe home to the child.My heart broke for the young Jason who was left wondering why he was abandoned. The imagery of holding your Mom’s hand and missing it so, brought me to tears.

    I’m glad you made it through Jason – you are important.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I agree Paul and I also have spoken to many people that have taken that drug. It is the most dangerous thing I have ever tried in my life and shouldn’t be given to anyone in my opinion. It created more issues than it fixed and it almost killed me.

      Liked by 1 person

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