Pahl Gahn Sak Mohk

Zaphod and Trillian are adopted. They were born in Pusan, South Korea. We are extremely unique as a family in that both of our children were adopted as infants, separately, two years apart, yet they share the same birthmother. You always hear the story of the couple that adopt a child, then have a surprise baby; well, we did that, except our surprise was a “pickup” instead of a “delivery”. I would post the whole story, but I’m saving it for my best-selling memoirs.

Being an adoptive family, and an interracial one at that can be a tricky situation. We have to deal with issues of culture, and race, and all kinds of adoption-related circumstances. Some are serious issues (Like culture – where does it come from? The color of one’s skin? The place of one’s birth? Or the place one was raised?). Race is interesting when you’re raising Asian children, because many of the stereotypes are positive stereotypes. How much do you discourage teachers from making the assumption that your children are highly intelligent?

It can be quite maddening, so I am proud, VERY proud, that Zaphod and Trillian have a very strong sense of humor. My kids are hilarious. And of all the things I am passing along to the children, the one I am most proud of (besides a strong love of God), is the ability to let the silliness of the rest of the world bounce off of them and have a good laugh about it.

Trillian has a very pronounced southern accent. If you’ve ever seen Henry Cho, you know how off-putting this can seem at first. You see the face, you expect a very different accent than the one you get. It’s not racism, it’s just Pavlovian. I’ve taught my children, especially my daughter to say when they get “that” look:

I’m from SOUTH Korea…I’m a “Pahl gahn sak mohk” (Korean for ‘Red Neck’)

Instead of joining the Perpetually Offended club, we’ve compiled a list of all the silly questions we’ve been asked by totals strangers over the years, to pull out when we need a good laugh. People generally mean well, they are just curious. Why get mad? I’m not going to punch some dude out just because he says “Oriental” instead of “Asian”. Big Deal.

Anyway, here’s some of the things on our list:

  • (When each was a baby) Do they speak English?
  • How much do they cost? (That’s a more appropriate question for Madonna)
  • Do they know they’re adopted?
  • (To Trillian, who was adopted at 8 months) Do you remember your REAL parents?
  • Are they yours?
  • Do you have any children of your own?

    There are so many more, I’ll share them later. Being a Caucasian parent of Asian children has been an incredible learning experience. For instance, because of the insular cultures of China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam, with a little practice one can tell what someone from each of those countries “looks like” (unlike the US). Also, I’ve learned that Koreans do NOT like Japanese (It mostly goes back to this and this), and that many Chinese look down upon the Koreans as a “lower race”. I’ll never forget being in a Chinese restaurant, having Trillian doted over by the staff – until they found out she was Korean. Quite an eye-opener there. I thought only whites were racist/xenophobic!

    Of course, in the southern US, everything about race is black and white, unless the discussion is about immigration. But once again, why get angry? Asians are only about 2% of the population of Nashville – even less in the outlying counties.

    I’ve actually had people get angry with me for teaching my children to laugh off ignorance of all sorts. No, they won’t be joining your little knee-jerk club. Yes, they’ll politely correct people that ask silly questions.

    We’ve had people stop us in the supermarket to thank us, and tell us how blessed our children are. That remains to be seen. I CAN tell you that the blessings to Lintilla and me have been beyond measure.

  • 3 Responses to “Pahl Gahn Sak Mohk”

    1. John H Says:

      sounds like to me that you are all blessed. Great post!

    2. Paul Chenoweth Says:

      ‘love the questions people ask! You should seriously consider a book.

    3. Kat Coble Says:

      Love this post!

      My dad was similar, in that he and his biobrother were both adopted as infants by the same woman.

      It’s kind of neat in a way, because the kids have a genetic bond as well as an emotional one.

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