at night

clearly, my parents did not associate the nightmares with adoption trauma

When I was a little girl, I had terrible nightmares. I literally became sick to my stomach when it was bedtime because I knew that as soon as I fell asleep, I’d have a bad dream. Night time was always a battle, and my mom had little patience for all of my wanderings out of bed. I was particularly afraid of the dark. I’m talking beyond your normal childhood fears of the dark. Some of my friends lived in wooded, rural areas, and I remember at sleepovers being spooked by what I imagined was out there, hidden in the shadows. It didn’t help that everyone shared ghost stories about Lizzie Borden and Bloody Mary. Why did we ever think that was a fun idea? Nightmares or night terrors are not an uncommon childhood experience. My daughter had them frequently when she was pre-school aged. If you’ve ever had nightmares, you understand how frightening they can be, especially to a young child. The feeling of helplessness and paralysis that the nightmares rendered was overwhelming. I didn’t understand why I had them, although now I know that many adopted children experience nightmares due to trauma. In those days, therapy was unheard of for adopted children. Clearly, my parents did not associate the nightmares with adoption trauma. I don’t think that such trauma was even recognised. As I got older the nightmares subsided. To this day, however, the memories of what I dreamt are still so vivid. At night is a recollection of those terrible dreams, but much less terrifying.


girl with a musical heart

the beautiful thing about art is that there are all kinds of it

When I started art journaling, this was one of my first pieces. I think I completed girl with a musical heart in 2015. I have always been inspired by the artwork of Kelly Rae Roberts, who ironically started out as a clinical medical social worker. I bought her book, Taking Flight, and still go back to it for inspiration. Brené Brown is another social worker who I’m inspired by and has much to say on courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. Social workers rock, but clearly I’m biased.

When I look at this piece now, I feel that it looks rather unfinished and almost too clean. I tend to be a perfectionist and extremely self-critical. I’m working on letting go, even though everything in me now wants to grab my paints and “fix” this piece so that it looks messier. I know other adoptees who say they struggle with perfection. It really colors my world from the appearance of my living room to body image. Now that’s a loaded topic for a female adoptee who also happens to be a not so thin Asian. Anyway, I guess the beautiful thing about art is that there are all kinds of it, and one is always evolving as an artist. In this piece, I felt inspired to include something that represented the importance of music, thus the musical heart. So here’s to music and art and creativity. Onward towards exploring and dabbling. We’ll see where this journey takes me.


the journey begins

through the arts, not only do we find community, but also healing

Thanks for joining me. I’m launching artful adoptee to share my thoughts, ideas, and lived experiences through the lens of art, music, film, dance, and prose. In this busy world, I find myself ever drawn to quieter places where I can create and contemplate the things that inspire me most.

Photo by Yannis Papanastasopoulos on Unsplash

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. — Thomas Merton