Gogo

Lauren J. Sharkey’s essay, Gogo, was selected for inclusion in the Asian American Feminist Collective’s FIRST TIMES digital storytelling project. This personal essay details Sharkey’s own experience as a victim of the fetishization of Asian women.

I had a feeling Jeff was the one. He was smart, made me laugh, and didn’t mind that I hadn’t seen The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Unlike the other guys I met on OkCupid, he called me after I let him feel me up in the abandoned Sears parking lot and asked me to dinner.

Read more at the Asian American Feminist Collective’s website…

The Adoptee’s Journey is Lifelong

I discovered I was adopted on my first day of kindergarten – I was five years old. My mother had trouble getting me out of the car seat and had to run me into Mrs. Matthei’s classroom. The teacher’s aide had me take a seat at a round table where two boys asked for the identity of the woman who brought me in. They wondered why I didn’t look like her. It was the first time I noticed there were physical differences between my mother and me.

“She’s adopted,” said a girl at the table. “Your real mommy is in China but she didn’t want you, so she gave you to a lady in America who can’t make babies.”

Read the rest on Adoption RSS…

Words Have Power

As a writer, words are everything. They are currency, they are blood…they are life. As an adoptee, words are also of great importance. In my next series of posts, I’ll be highlighting words that have had an impact on me as an adoptee.⁣⁣ It’s my hope that by shining a spotlight on these words, non-adoptees will rethink and reevaluate how they speak to adoptees about adoption, and recognize the impact of their words. After all, words are power and we should always strive to use our power to help, not harm.⁣⁣

Illustrations and photography for this project were made possible by the amazing Martha Wasser of Amour Artistique. ⁣⁣

I’ll be running another Words Have Power campaign this coming November in honor of National Adoption Awareness Month.

DAY 1: MOM/MOTHER

In the adoptee community, a lot of conversation has surrounded the vernacular. I have always referred to the woman who gave birth to me as my biological mother. In high school, I called her “BioMom” because I thought it would hurt less if she sounded like an evil robot some villain had created. Some adoptees call this woman first mother, birth mother, or other names. ⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
But when it comes to the woman who raised me – the woman on whose shoulder I cried whenever something went wrong, the woman whose heart knows my heart – that woman is Mom. Some adoptees call this woman adoptive mother.⁣⁣⁣
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As a community, I think we need to respect and accept the way other adoptees identify the people in their lives – whether it’s parents, partners, siblings, or otherwise. Would it be more convenient to have an “official” name designated for each person in our lives? Maybe. But the fact of the matter is all of us are different. All of us relate to these people differently, see them differently…love, hate, need them differently. ⁣⁣⁣
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DAY 2: LUCKY

One of the words I hear most often from nonadoptees is lucky. People tell me I am lucky to have parents like mine, lucky to have a wonderful life…lucky to be alive. But luck has nothing to do with it.⁣

The truth is I, and so many other adoptees, were separated from the women who brought us into the world – whether it was at infancy or not long after. The truth is the trauma of that separation is something I carry with me each and every day. The truth is because of that separation, I have never looked into my mother’s face and seen my own. I have never been able to physically reflect that I belong to the most important people in my life. I have never known my motherland, its history, its love.⁣

I have, however, spent the entirety of my life wondering who I am. I have laid awake at night wondering why I was relinquished, wondering if my biological mother has ever given her thoughts to me in the 32 years since we last saw each other, wondering if my biological father knows his blood runs through my veins – blood which I will pass down to any child I carry. I have been mistaken for a separate party when going to restaurants with my parents. ⁣

People tell me I am lucky – that I have been saved and given a better life. But I cannot recall what inferior life I was living before, or who had been responsible for it. They say this as if I had escaped some unspeakable fate which would have rendered me ill, wounded, or worse. ⁣

I’ll never know about if the life I did not live would have been better or worse than the one I am living now. All I know is that “lucky” isn’t a word I’d use to identify myself, my adoptee journey, my trauma.

DAY 3: REAL

As an adoptee, I’m always surprised by how strangers – and I mean STRANGERS, as in people I’ve just met, people standing behind me in line, people who over hear me talking to a friend – will ask me completely invasive and deeply personal questions about my adoption. These people approach adoption casually, as if they’re asking how my summer vacation was or what I’m going to order for dinner.⁣

The first question, nine times out of ten, is, “Have you ever looked for your real parents?”.The second question I usually get is if my brother is my “real” brother. Real as opposed to what? Real as opposed to counterfeit? Real as opposed to imaginary? Real as opposed to fake?⁣

What bothers me most about the word “real” is that it suggests the love, care, and existence is somehow insufficient or lacking. “Real” implies that the only family I have ever known is somehow invalid or fraudulent.⁣

Personally, I have only ever known, needed, and loved one mother and father in my life. I have only known, needed, and loved one brother. They are not figments of my imagination, hallucinations created by my mind…they are living, breathing, real people. ⁣

Additionally, the decision whether or not to search for one’s biological relations – whether it be parents, siblings, or otherwise – is for the adoptee to share with who they wish. It’s not a conversation piece. These are our lives – respect that.⁣

In conversation with Alyssa Waugh

Reblogged from Blind Faith Books’ Official Facebook Page:

#IAMSTRENGTH #MeetTheContributors

Lauren J. Sharkey on her essay, “What All Survivors Know.”

AW: In or two sentences, what is your piece in this collection about?

LJS: When I was in college, I found myself in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. This piece is about how one of my friends, Erin, tried to help me get out, and how I wasn’t ready to.

AW: What inspired it?

LJS: The I AM STRENGTH collection isn’t just about one women’s strength, but also about how we make each other stronger. This piece was inspired by how my friend’s strength eventually gave me the courage to leave my abuser.

AW: Female friendship is such a divine sisterhood! Why did you feel it was important to submit this?

LJS: There are so many women who share my story, who are living my story. I hope this piece sparks a conversation on how we can provide better support, resources, and education to help women get out of bad situations, and how bystanders can intervene.

AW: This issue is SO common, and the things you’re trying to call attention to are critical. Anything else particularly interesting or important about this piece you want readers to know?

LJS: I’d like readers to know help and hope are out there, but your strength will always come from within.

Preorder I AM STRENGTH: True Stories of Everyday Superwomen (e-book) here.


Lauren J. Sharkey is currently Managing Editor and Marketing & Web Development Coordinator for Kaylie Jones Books, an imprint of Akashic Books, Executive Assistant of the James Jones Writers Workshop Retreat, and Creative Nonfiction Editor at Reservoir Journal. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in Dear Adoption, and her debut novel, INCONVENIENT DAUGHTER, forthcoming in 2020, is based on her experience as a Korean American adoptee. Lauren J. Sharkey – theljsharkey@gmail.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @theljsharks, Website: ljsharks.com

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