Pidgin-holed, do we have to choose between race and upbringing?

While searching the web to see what other people were saying about Suzanne Berghaus I came across the The Transracial Korean Adoptee Nexus blog. The site’s focus is on Korean Adoption and Pan-Asian identity issues it also looked at other adoptee related news. The goal of the site is to “empower transracial adoptees to speak out and speak with each other.”

kadnexus makes a an excellent point in his post about the story.

Once again I find myself coming back to this idea of identity where transracial adoptees exist within their own space of identity. Just as many are torn between the duality of American/White culture (that they were raised on) and their birth country’s culture, it seems that trying to classify the nuanced situations ofadoptees as either immigrant or refugee is too complex.

We are still considered Asian by appearance, conform to various stereotypes of the already pervasive and systemic virus of over-achievement, yet we also have been raised within middle to affluent White Christian America-raised on many of the same values and logic that most Whites use to manipulate programs such as affirmative action, andracialize people of color. We are inherently taught how to socialize with mainstream white society, communicate with impeccable English, and are given the resources needed to survive. I realize that quite a few of us turned out “ok” but I think it was an interesting analysis that really considers the privileged status from which we come from as Asian Americanadoptees.

I think he makes a great point. Where do transracial adoptees fit in? While many of of benefit from our up brings at the same time it alienates us from our own people. My comment to him was that to white people I am Hispanic and to Hispanics I’m a gringo/white. Where does that leave me? With out a defined culture perhaps.

His response was that “America is all about pidgeon-holing people into picking sides (similarly for biracial people) we are made to feel as though we HAVE to choose sides to be legimitate individuals” I completely agree with this. Growing up I remember one of my friends of a mix racial background “picked” a side that people thought was wrong. She was given a lot of crap for not acknowledging her “black” heritage.

I guess why question is: Isn’t this what America is all about? What makes America great is that it has become this melting pot of culture. That we have all these different points of view and life experiences. Why should we be made to feel like this is a bad thing?

Kadnexus’ goal is to “empower adoptees to feel this space as their own-I think that our identity is unique.” I think is a great goal since a big part of being a transracial adoptee or biracial individual is picking sides.

Tim’s El Salvador Blog

We have been mentioned on Tim’s El Salvador Blog. Tim blogs about current news and events in El Salvador in an effort to inform other English speaks. He recently blogged about the Suzanne Berghaus story, Pro-Busqueda (the organization that reunited me with my family) and our blog.

“This story highlights the work of Asociación Pro-Busqueda, the organization, founded by Father Jon Cortina, which works to help Salvadoran families find the thousands of children kidnapped or otherwise ‘disappeared’ during the civil war. From Pro-Busqueda’s web site:

Pro-Busqueda was founded on the basis of a simple but brutal question that rips with pain the hearts of the mothers and fathers who live in anguish: Where is my son? Where is my daughter? From these questions the Association has over time evolved its mission to its now solid form of to “Search and locate children who disappeared as a result of the armed conflict in El Salvador, and once found, to promote the reunification and reintegration of the family unit. In this fashion the demands for truth, justice and reparation, which the victims have against the Salvadoran state, come to pass.”

Another of Pro-Busqeda’s success stories is story of Nelson (or Roberto when he was a baby in El Salvador). Nelson has set up a blog where his families’ stories are told called Ana’s Miracle. It’s dedicated to his mother, a guerilla fighter who was killed and her baby boy placed in an orphanage.”

Thanks Tim for mentioning us. My sister and I both appreciate it.

This is incredible, disappeared Salvadoran war child finds her way home

This story was in today’s Boston Globe. Its so wried because her story is very similar to mine. She was separated from her family during the Salvadorian Civil War, adopted to an American family and even reunited by the same organization.

War child who ‘disappeared’ finds her way back – The Boston Globe: “CACAOPERA, El Salvador — The house was decorated with ribbons and balloons as Suzanne Berghaus walked toward it. The 26-year-old social worker from Wilmington, Mass., would later recall how beautiful the place looked with its colorful bunting and hand-lettered sign welcoming her home. ‘Te Queremos Mucho,’ the sign read. We love you very much.
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Valentín Argueta greeted her at the front gate. It was the first time he’d laid eyes on his youngest child in 24 years, since her kidnapping by government soldiers during El Salvador’s long and bloody civil war.”

A letter from my father – by Nelson/Roberto

November 1997

Its 6:15 pm and its already dark out. I just got back from school and I’m the first one home. I dash up to my room and drop my bag. I fire up the computer and head back downstairs to get something to drink. As I go to the turn on the outside lights I bend over and pick up the mail. On my way back to the kitchen I start to go through it. Bill, bill, junk mail…but whats this?

Tossing the rest of the mail on the counter I’m starring down at a letter addressed to Roberto Coto form a Luis Coto. Its a letter from my father… When we got the original package from Probusqueda there was only letters from my aunt and grandmother. I take a second to look at it before opening it. Its three pages of neatly written cursive. I frown for a second. It all in Spanish and I can’t read any of it.

I head back up to my room letter in hand. Half an hour later my dad yells from downstairs “I’m home”

“Hi” I reply making my way out into the hall.

“How was your day?” he questions

“I got a letter from my dad.” I say excitedly

My adoptive father would tell me later these words made his heart sink because for 15 years he was the only one I called dad. There is a pause…”What does it say?”

“I’m not sure its all in Spanish”

Over dinner I show my parents the letter. My mom suggests that she could have one of her colleagues translate the letter for us. I tell her that I think some of my friend at school could translate it too.

The next day I stuff the letter in my bag as I head out the door. As I’m ride in on the T I stare at it I try to figure out what it says. All I can make out is “Dear Roberto,” So I just sit there staring out the window. I always sit in the the very first seat on the train. It has a window all to its self and I can get off the train quicker. I’ve made this 15 minuet trip for the past four years but today it seams endless. My leg is shaking in anticipation and everyone getting on the train is taking forever. Finally I arrive at my stop just in time to catch the last van.

I’m running late. Its 8:20am when I arrive and there is no time to find someone to translate. I’ll have to wait until lunch. I’m restless during my classes I pull out the letter every so often to look it over. I briefly show it to my friend Eric. Finally its time for lunch.

“Julia!” I call down the hall

She greats me with a smile, “Hey there”

“I got a letter from my father in Panama” I say pull the letter out of my bad

“Oh wow that’s so cool, what does it say?”

“I’m not sure. I can’t read it and I need to find someone who can translate it.”

“Maria might be able help you. She speaks some Spanish.”

“Really? Hmm I’ll have to ask her”

“She’s over there, Hey I got to run I’ll catch up with you later” She turns and walks off.

“yup, thanks I’ll see you later”

As she’s walking away she calls down the hall “Hey when are we gonna playing soccer?”

I smile “Anytime just let me know” I turn and head towards the lounge where Maria is sitting.

“Hey Maria are you busy?”

Maria look up “Not right now. Why whats up?”

“I got this letter from my dad and I have no idea what it says you think you could help me with it?”

“This is your father in Central America?” she ask examining the letter.


“Yea sure let me look at it”

Finally I’ll be able to find out what in the letter. Its loud in the foyer so we make are way in to the stair case and sit down on the steps going down to athletic office.

She sits and looks at it for a sec. She starts to read it to me but explains that its very hard with the writing and that he using some words she doesn’t know. As she tries to read it I realize that I’m not actually listening to what she is saying. I don’t think its the letter that I’m excited about. I can’t wait to see meet these people and see what they are like. For that I will have to wait, it will be another month before I get to meet them.