This is how she describes her situation:
Throughout my life, I have had to hear people say how lucky I was to be adopted ... Lucky means that one gets something one does not deserve. I was not lucky. I will protest to my last breath that I am not lucky to be an adoptee, not lucky to lose my culture, and not lucky to be thrown away for America to salvage ...
I love my American mother, and I appreciate many non-Koreans who have also been role models, but at the same time I feel I can never be quite like them. When Kim Seunsengnim caressed my cheek and said, "Mi-Rim cham chowa-heyo," (I like Mi-Rim so much), it sounded like the Korean mother I never knew. It was as if I needed to see myself reflected, physically, in someone I admired.
In so many ways, I have been blessed. But is that lucky? Is it lucky to be a permanent nomad, always between two cultures? Some people say that all U.S. immigrants face the same dilemma, but I disagree. People who immigrate to the U.S. by choice have family, history, roots somewhere. Adoptees do not. Caucasian immigrants in particular, can assimilate racially into mainstream American society. Korean adoptees cannot.
Korea is no longer my country, but to some extent neither is the U.S. It is easy to say that you can be both Korean and American at the same time, but the bottom line is that one must choose where to live, what language to speak and where to work. I cannot live in both places simultaneously, and I cannot be fully Korean and American simultaneously.
Yes, many very good things have happened to me. I love my adoptive family (my "real" family, whatever that means) dearly, and I will always remember with love the kind people I met on this trip. But to call me lucky is to belittle and disrespect the pain which I have suffered, along with other Korean adoptees.
What MiRim Kim is telling us is that ethnicity is important to who she is, and that she has suffered a misfortune in being separated from her Korean ancestry, culture, history and language. A core aspect of her self-identity has been denied her.
This serves as a clue that ethnicity is not a restriction people want to be liberated from, as modernists would have it, nor is it something to be sacrificed to prove our status as non-discriminators.
Nor is it adequate to treat politics purely from the standpoint of the autonomous individual, as we don't stand wholly alone in what matters most to us.