Sunday, June 14, 2020

This Blog Has Gotten Bigger: Are You With Me?

Well, it's June 2020. A lot has happened since the last time I posted, which was in January 2018. 

Matthew is 11 now, and growing like a weed. He starts 6th grade (which in MD, is middle school!) this fall. He is such a wonderful kid, and it feels like forever ago (and almost like yesterday) that he joined our family after a trip from Seoul to San Francisco to Dulles Airport in Virginia, where we met him for the first time. But this blog isn't only about him, or about our family, anymore. It's gotten bigger.

There is so much to say. I think I'm going to start blogging again, about not just my life as a parent but also about . . . this world of ours. 

This crazy, crazy world.

Coronavirus. Quarantine. Pandemic. Words we never thought we'd live through in our lives. And here we are, still working from home, still schooling our kids from home, wearing masks, no pools no restaurants no haircuts no group gatherings no concerts no sports, for going on 6 months now.

And, in addition to that, people are dying at an alarming rate as a result of poor and loopholed gun laws. And Black people, especially Black men, are disproportionately affected and 10 times more likely than white people to be murdered by someone with a gun (and often, someone who should never have had that gun in the first place; thanks, loopholes; but we in Moms Demand Action are workin' on that).

And, in addition to that, racism is alive and well in our great country. 

I encourage you to follow me in these posts. 

Read them. Open your mind. The content on my blog posts is never light; if you want light, I respectfully say, "Look somewhere else 'cuz you're not gettin' it here." I have "gone deep" ever since I started journaling and writing at the tender age of 10. I used to allow people to shame me for this. Boyfriends broke up with me because I was "too deep." Family friends have repeatedly told me that my poems as a teenager were depressing, sad. Friends have told me that I need to lighten up. 

Well, I'm 51 y'all, and I ain't lightening up. In fact, I am just getting started. 

My posts, and my personality in general, are usually deep and thought-provoking and yes, "heavy" (others' words) and "serious" (not my words but OK). I guess maybe that's one reason why I have been feeling so terribly alone lately, especially in the past few years. But it's not the worst thing. To me, the worst thing is ignoring the change that I can be in the world, conveniently turning my head away and remaining in my perfectly round, perfectly white little bubble. I refuse to do that.

The past several years (ever since the Parkland massacre, really) have taken me on an even more profound journey. A journey in which I have been outspoken and active in the fight for gun violence prevention and the safety of our children. A journey in which I have begun embracing and leaning in to the movement against racial injustice and white privilege in this country. Admitting my own white privilege, educating myself so I can do better, and then taking some concrete actions. A journey in which, I have to admit, I have been feeling extremely alone. That's OK. Even for an extrovert, I feel OK about that (sad but OK). Because the work is THAT important. If I lose friends over this, or if my friends think I'm batshit-crazy and talk about me behind my back, that is absolutely no skin off my back. If I invite 15 of my closest friends to some real, authentic dialogue with others (many of them, Black people) about racism and anti-racism work, and only 3 show up or even acknowledge my invitation, will that bother me? Hell yes. Will that stop me from doing the hard work of anti-racism, of gun violence prevention? Hell no. 

My anti-racism work has absolutely nothing to do with me and my white fragility. I am not looking for praise or adulation that the whitest of white ladies to perhaps ever walk this earth is now doing the hard work of anti-racism. It has everything to do with Black people and the injustices and racism that they have been subjected to for 400+ years in this country. 

I have soooo much to learn about my white privilege, about white fragility, about systemic and institutionalized racism, about the school-to-prison pipeline, about the prison industrial complex, and about why Black Lives Matter. 

So, I think I'm gonna start bloggin' again. 

This is my attempt to encourage people to open their hearts and open their minds to learning about all the ways in which this country, and our world, is still so unjust and unfair, especially to Black people. And also to brown people, to people of color, to BIPOC, and to other non-white races. (I hesitate to use "people of color" and "BIPOC" here but I do, because I have gotten very mixed messages from my Black friends about the appropriateness of these terms; I am still open to learning and making sure I use the most accepted terminology, so please reach out to me and correct me if I have used these terms incorrectly or ill-advisedly.)

In some of my blog posts, I hope to share stories of what I have learned from my Black friends--actual stories of racism that they encountered (with their blessing to share the story, of course), what they have articulated to me that they want and need from white people, what their fears are (fears that are very different from the ones that I have as a white privileged person), and the lessons I have learned in this journey along the way.

My blog posts will also be my attempt to vent my feelings and how strongly I feel that real change needs to happen, and it starts with us. It starts with white people--and I know a lot of white people. My circle is predominantly white, followed by some Asian (mostly Korean), and a very few friends who are Black and who are other races (from India, the Philippines, Mexico). We need to use our white privilege (which we ALL have, like it or not) as the power tool that it is in order to make our voices heard and to elevate the Black people in our country who have been discriminated against, profiled, been made to feel "less than" and invisible, for more than 400 years.

A few months ago, my own son and his Chinese-American friend were the victims of racist remarks. And it wasn't the first time for our family, either. The white kids told my son and his friend to "go back to China; we don't want your coronavirus." I'll tell you that story in a separate blog post; that story deserves its own dedicated space.

I'll talk more about all of this soon. But I do encourage you to pay attention to what I'm saying, to read my blog, to stay woke, and to take concrete action to create a culture and a world that is truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive. This won't happen today or tomorrow. It's a marathon, not a sprint. But in order to finish a marathon, ya gotta take small steps first, start slow, pace yourself, pick up speed, and then FINISH. So, I am in this for the long haul.

And don't worry: If you don't know remotely where to start, that's another reason why I have decided to start blogging again. I'll be providing resources (books, movies, documentaries, articles, blog posts, social media profiles, etc.) to read, watch, and follow. And I will provide these resources only if I myself have read/watched/followed them first. So this won't be like my Facebook feed, where I am sharing a million things even if I haven't yet read them. I'll share only resources that I have completed in their entirety, and my perspective/opinion on what I thought of them. Maybe pull out a few quotes, or a few scenes from said movie or documentary, that kind of thing. I hope you find it helpful.

Stay tuned. I know the title of this blog is a little misleading, and I ask you to be understanding of that--because it contains legacy content about Jeff and my journey to parenthood that goes back to 2008ish, I do not want to change the title. It's part of our family story. But suffice it to say, this blog is about way more than adoption and parenthood now. It's about righting wrongs. It's about "leaning in" to discomfort and unfamiliar dialogue, and being OK with that--because that's where the learning, the growing, and the changing happen--in those uncomfortable spaces that we, as white people, absolutely MUST start occupying with greater force and frequency than ever before.

Please join me.


Thursday, January 4, 2018



It's January 2018--and it's going to be a magical year. I know it because I'm already telling my stories and sharing my writing in ways that I've wanted to for a long, long time. I'm keeping this post short. There's lots to do to prepare for the Year That Shall Be My Year, but, suffice to say that I'm excited.

And now, the announcement: After writing as a storyteller (among hundreds of others) for Adoption.com, for just a few months, I was told that they liked my writing so much that, this quarter, I was selected to be added as a Staff Storyteller (a higher honor than "just" the storyteller designation). Writing for this site offers tons of intrinsic rewards and motivation for me; gratitude is joyfully present. I have written several stories for Adoption.com so far. Here's one: https://adoption.org/international-adoption-expensive

I will link to others as I find them being published.

I plan to write more, both creatively and consistently. Not just about adoption. Especially in the form of poetry. And journaling. And, I plan to get moving on that book I've been threatening you all with (a story about my great grandfather). But more on all of that soon. For now, please share my joy with me as I celebrate a small milestone in this Already Magical Year of 2018. Four days in? Not bad. Not bad at all!

May good things come to you all this year. I'm donning my Storyteller hat starting now. See you soon, in my stories and in the joy of telling them to the world.

--Kathleen

Monday, October 23, 2017

I am so excited to announce that I have been accepted as a writer/author for Adoption.com. This is my first foray into adoption writing, and I am very, very excited to embark on this journey. Please wish me well, and look for articles by me on Adoption.com (website and social media pages). I will be posting updates as my work gets published. As the person who's been editing other people's words for 25 years now, I am thrilled to be writing and publishing my very own words about a topic for which I care deeply and about a triad (the adoptee/adopter/birth parent triad) of which I am proudly a part. Please share in my joy, follow Adoption.com, and look for articles by yours truly!

Whoo-hoo!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

It's been a long time since I've blogged. Welcome back, me. This whole motherhood thing is keeping me pretty busy.

So, I'll plunge right into a "deep" topic here. 

It was a warm night in June 2014. We were eating ice cream with Jeff's parents at the Baskin Robbins in Olney, sitting near the fountain watching families chase after their kids. One woman, who was Caucasian, was supervising her two children walking on the wall. The children were of mixed race. It was clear to me that she was their mom--not by the way she looked but, rather, by the way she WAS with them: Her attentive guidance as they walked proudly on that wall. Her loosely holding the little one's fat little hand. Her intimate laughter with them. Her telling them "no" when they pushed it too far. Her hair, slightly mussed, because, when a vital piece of your heart and soul is walking alone for maybe the first time on a concrete wall, you don't much care what your hair is doing.

Then, Matthew said to me, "Mommy, if a kid's skin is different from the mom's skin, does that mean she's still his mom?" Without hesitating, I said, "Yup. Some kids' mommies have a different skin color, but they are still the kid's mommy. Like you and me." [Many times already, we've had the "you-are-my-son-but-you-didn't-grow-in-my-belly" conversation.]

He paused for a moment. Then, after much reflection, he said...

"Do you want to try my ice cream? It's really good: peach. What kind did YOU get?"

I will never forget that moment. There is nothing like a nice, deep talk...however brief, with a side of ice cream.

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 http://www.korean-language.org/]

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)

Hello

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)

Good-bye

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)

Mother
Omma

Father
Oppa

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.

Best,
Kathleen

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: "private...do 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.