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Once They Hear My Name

April 26, 2011

This was a “break-through” book for me. Written by Ellen Lee, Marilyn Lammert, and Mary Anne Hess, it is a collection of nine narratives written into autobiographical form based on multiple interviews with each Korean adoptee. Published in 1998 by Tamarisk Books in Silver Spring, MD, many of the adoptees grew up or live in or around the Maryland area, and a few are near my age, which made it even easier for me to relate to their stories. I felt like I was getting closer to knowing someone like me. I wasn’t alone in my experience.

The title comes from something one of the adoptees said, describing the commonly noted mismatch between name and face. He said “once they hear my last name, people always ask uncomfortable questions.” How familiar that is!

As I said in an earlier post, it’s not so much the specifics of the stories that helped me, but the quantity of details and the number of stories. Nine may not seem like a lot, but spread over 170+ pages, that’s a lot of time spent with each individual. I could identify with many facets of each person’s experience. Each story revealed more questions and prompted further reflection.

At least one person mentioned “The Gathering,” which I now regret not knowing about back in 1999. But I don’t think I was ready for any of this back then. I found this report about the event, which is pretty interesting.

I don’t really have much more to say about this one. I found it helpful in normalizing the whole transracial adoption thing for me. It made me feel like there were other adoptees out there like me. Adoptees my age, who grew up near me. I’m glad I read it. It was the right book at the right time. It pulled me out of my woe-is-me funk.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Julia Bates permalink
    April 29, 2011 1:19 pm

    I LOVEEEEEEEEEEEE how the technology of writing allows ideas and experiences to be shared over months and years. How it grounds us and gives us language by which to know ourselves!!

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