Friday, August 26, 2011

Diversity and The Conspicuous Family

My employer, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA for short) is so awesome, in so many ways. One such way is their commitment to diversity. ASHA has an entire Diversity Team, and for the month of September 2011, they are doing a Diversity Museum, where people can display items from their various cultures/backgrounds. I plan on bringing in the hanbok (formal Korean outfit worn at special occasions) that Matthew wore for his 1st birthday, as well as various other Korean cultural items (and adoption-related items) that we have begun gathering, as the multiracial family that we are!

As part of the ASHA Diversity Museum, I participated in a video montage in which the Diversity Team interviewed me about the ways in which I and my family are diverse. I talked about adoption and the Korean culture--about being what is known as a "conspicuous family" (I'll revisit The Triangle Stare in a minute; I'm fairly certain I've touched on this in much earlier blog postings) and about the value that we place, in our family, on the country/language/culture of Matthew's birth--something that means the world to us.

I talked briefly about the adoption process, what we went through in bringing Matthew home, and the fact that we are a family, despite the fact that we may look different from one another. If we seem to be functioning as a family, we ARE one! People often give us The Triangle Stare: Stare at Mom, move gaze across to Dad, move gaze down to baby, then pause, and look up at the mom again, across at the dad again, and down at the baby again. (And then, depending on who you are and how sensitive to you are to people's privacy, you may or may not ask us if we are Matthew's parents.) I work to reduce instances of The Triangle Stare all the time, although, honestly, I believe that people mean no malintent...we are all products of society's slight unwillingness to truly embrace the diversity of family and just accept the fact that if a group of people seem to be functioning as a family, it's pretty darn tootin' that they ARE one.

Here are some notes from what I prepared for my little interview. I showed lots of photos of Matthew, obviously. I've posted some recent photos of Matthew at the end of this blog.

Our “Conspicuous Family”

Kathleen Kelly Halverson: 50% Irish, 25% German, 25% Slovak
Jeffrey Brian Halverson: 25% Irish, some Armenian, some Russian
Matthew Seong-jin Halverson: 100% South Korean
Matthew’s Birth City: Busan (SE Korea)
Matthew’s “Foster City”: Seoul (NW Korea; capital city of South Korea)
Dialect of Busan: Gyeongsang
Languages spoken by us: English, basic survival Korean (we all hope to take classes together someday!)
Korean Alphabet: Hangul (derived from Chinese)

How does Hangul differ from Chinese?
[excerpted from]

Originally written using “Hanja” (Chinese characters), Korean is now mainly spelled in “Hangul,” which consists of 24 letters—14 consonants and 10 vowels—that are written in blocks of 2 to 5 characters. Unlike the Chinese writing system (including Japanese "Kanji"), "Hangul" is not an ideographic system. The shapes of the individual "Hangul" letters were designed to model the physical morphology of the tongue, palate, and teeth. Up to five letters join to form a syllabic unit.

Korean is spoken by more than 72 million people living on the Korean peninsula. Although it differs slightly in spelling, alphabet, and vocabulary between the two regions, Korean is the official language of both South Korea and North Korea. Outside of the Korean peninsula, there are about two million people in China who speak Korean as their first language, another two million in the United States, 700,000 in Japan, and 500,000 in the Russian regions of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

The Korean language has five major dialects in South Korea and one in North Korea. Despite the geographical and socio-political dialect differences, Korean is relatively homogeneous, being mutually understandable among speakers from different areas.

English/Korean (some basics)


Annyong hashimnigga
(formal; means peacefulness, well-being; literally translated, “Are things peaceful for you?”)

Annyong haseo
(informal, I believe; my Korean friends use this to say “hello” rather than the above formal phrase)


Annyonghi kyeseyo
(said to someone who is staying)

Annyonghi kaseyo
(said to someone who is leaving)

Nice to Meet You
BAN-GAP-SUP-NEE-DA (phonetic version)



Thank You
Kamsa hamnida (pronounced KAM-SA'-MEE-DAH)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Two recent videos of Matthew

I so want to keep up this blog but just can't manage to find the time to write. I'm going to start posting photos and videos in an attempt to keep everyone current. I will write as I can!

Here are two videos of Matthew from this month (August 2011). In one, we discover our favorite Cars character on the side of a country road in PA (my apologies for the sideways nature of the video. First time I used the video function of my iPhone...argh...will try to fix it but did want to get this up in the meantime).

In the other, Matthew discovers the joy of water fountains...and we realize that you don't need bathing suits or even barefeet to dive into the pleasures of life.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Wondering Where I've Been?

OK, I'm officially halting my hiatus.

My only explanation is that I have a two-year-old. Need I say more, fellow parents of toddlers? I've been having the time of my life with this kid (I am loving this age, and the language explosion, and the cute things he says!), but my old 42-year-old self running around after an extremely active 2-year-old leaves little time for anything else (including writing). Let's see, was it the swim lessons (a whole story in itself) or the intro Little Gym class (where he wouldn't participate in circle time and wouldn't let go of his matchbox cars)? Or the continual tantrums that occur every night after daycare? (Why do I get the most miserable parts of the day and my daycare provider gets him when he's all cute and cuddly? But hey, at least there's bedtime, which is Matthew and my magic moment together. It is so awesome! But I digress...)

I've vowed to get better about blogging again. There will never be the "right" time, or "enough" time so I have to make the time!

I have some good news. More details to follow, but...I am about to be published! It's been ages since I wrote professionally. Well, I took the plunge and wrote an article and submitted it to an adoption e-magazine called Adoption Today. I was thrilled to find this e-mag because it addresses not just adoption but, specifically, international adoption. I love all my adoption magazines and the broad spectrum of adoption types that they address (e.g., Adoptive Families, The Adoption Constellation put out by Adoption Mosaic, to name a few), but I am admittedly thankful to have landed on a link that is so immediately relevant to my life and our family.

Having edited other people's words for so long, I have allowed my creative spirit and writer self to be somewhat stifled, so between the blog and now, the published article (which is slated for the September issue), I am over-the-moon happy that my writing is seeing more sunlight, so to speak. I'm used to it hiding between the covers of a personal journal, or buried in the "My Documents" section of my computer, under "Creative Writing" (read: " not touch/read/open"). It makes me feel extremely vulnerable, but I suppose that's a good thing. And once you see my topic, you'll see what I mean. I'm taking a risk publishing it but it's a risk that I've decided is well worth it.

I'm going to leave it at that, for now. Once the September issue comes out, I'll share the link to my article and you can read it for yourself. It's on the sober side of the adoption journey, but it's an article that is so necessary for so many parents, whether they are waiting for their kids or already united as a family.

Oh, and I have to pat myself on the back for my recent weight loss: 10 pounds, baby! A lot more to go, but I am slowly getting there, with a lot of hard work and perseverance. Wish me luck as I continue on yet another (different kind of) journey! I'm always on a journey somewhere, aren't I? Thank goodness for that quote that says something like "it's not the destination but the journey" or else I'd be in trouble. I am constantly on journeys and rarely ever staying put at destinations! :)

Love and hugs to you all! Sorry it's been so long since I've written.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Word for 2011?

So, my best friend and I have a yearly tradition of selecting a “word” that will define and jump-start our new year (we like to use "word" rather than that scary R word that rhymes with "sezalution" (wow, now I'm making up words). We discuss our word with one another, with such vim and vigor around the January-February timeframe, and by about March, it's likely we've either forgotten it or knowingly fallen off our own self-professed wagons.

This year, my word came to me with an almost startling ease: SIMPLIFY. Then I started playing with it and (lover of language that I am) "complicating" it. (See? Already I'm falling off the new year's wagon.)

Anyway, here’s what I came up with:

Present, Patient
Loving, Letting Go

I thought it could apply to my blog, too, for so often, I avoid writing in it because there's SO MUCH to say, sometimes it's overwhelming, and in approaching blog writing, I think that every post has to be perfect and well-written and tweaked just so and thought provoking and insightful. Why can't my blog postings be short, sweet, simple, and fun? And maybe even error filled and completely lacking in depth? (My inner poet cringes at the thought of going no deeper than the, what a revelation...which is different than that other "R" word, but then I digress). Maybe lifting the heavy load from my own shoulders will also lead me to "shed" in some other important ways as well. As in letting go, being here now (as Thich Nat Hanh says, and Ray LaMontagne sings--there I go, being deep again). As in walking a little lighter, removing the monkey from my mind.

What’s your word for 2011? What do your letters represent? What shifts are you envisioning (or not) for 2011?