Adopted, Adoptee, Adoptee Limelight, Adoptees Connect

Adoptee Limelight Spotlighting Peggy Galdamez

BIO: Peggy Galdamez, author of “Dear Daughters, Own Your Worth,” is a worthiness, self-care mentor for adoptees like herself.  Her own story as a transracial adoptee fuels her desire to help others find their own path to healing, feel worthy of love and belonging, developing their self-care, and living life on their terms while still acknowledging the trauma of adoption.  She has a Health & Wellness Coaching and education background, a Reiki certification, and has been on the Adoptees On podcast.  Her Facebook Group “Adoptees for Healing” acknowledges adoption stories and creates a safe space for conversations about worthiness, healing in its many forms, and a place of belonging for adoptees.  She believes that living fully and living well means that we are healing the parts of us that are asking to be healed, empowering ourselves and others in this process, and stepping into our courage and voice.  

“We all have a beautiful light inside of us that was never meant to be dimmed or extinguished.  Some of us carry deep pain and scars, but to heal is to live.  I want to help adoptees to not only find their light, but to feel it and live in theirs.  Even in our darkest most painful times, we can find our way through it.”

In her free time, Peggy enjoys exploring new places with her family, reading, cooking, painting and having impromptu dance parties with her husband, daughters and their corgi. 

Peggy’s Story

Healing, Belonging and Finding My Own Way as An Adoptee

I’m 44 years old and it’s taken me over 4 decades to find my place of belonging, healing and living life on my terms as an adoptee.  Growing up in the Midwest, I was surrounded by communities of good people where most of the kids in the schools I attended were not like me.  When I would look around, I would see beautiful blond- and brunette-haired girls and boys with blue, green and brown eyes laughing with me, and sometimes ridiculing me.  I would get so caught up with my American culture and upbringing that I would forget that I had brown skin, dark brown hair and Asian eyes.  Sometimes, I would even catch my reflection as I would run past a mirror on my way out to play with friends, and I would pause a second in surprise.  Who was that girl? She’s Korean but she isn’t because I felt “white” on the inside.  My parents are Caucasian and my cultural upbringing is American.   I laugh now when I think back on a memory of an elderly woman commenting on how good my English was.  I remember swallowing the compliment and feeling heat rising in my neck, but I was too annoyed to offer an explanation.  Often, I would get asked “where are you from?” and I would respond, “Michigan” with an emphasis on don’t ask me any more questions.  

On the rare occasions that I had an opportunity to interact with other Koreans, there was a hope of connection for me.  Eventually I would have to explain why I wasn’t really Korean in the way they were expecting.  I would get “the look” of confusion and then understanding when I didn’t speak the language and that was it – dead end.  I felt ashamed and embarrassed, like I had to apologize for not knowing this part of me that was never given the choice as an infant.  

Moving to Silicon Valley in 2000 finally gave me something I had never experienced in my life.  I suddenly fit in without question. I was now a part of a majority demographic.  I even remember asking myself when I landed in SFO, “What are all these Asians doing here?!” It was a reverse culture shock.  It was so strange and relieving at the same time because now I was hiding in plain sight.  Currently, my family and I live in Florida where I am experiencing a new culture again in a new state.  This move pushed me to ask myself, “How does a transracial adoptee like me feel like I can fit in with my American culture now?” The answer is simple.  I do and I don’t because I have decided that no matter where I live or what the demographic may be, I will always belong to myself first.  In the words of one of my favorite authors Brené Brown, “True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness.  True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”  This quote opened up a part of me that I deeply understood.  I could be who I am.   This then begged the question, “Who am I?”  I am many parts, and finding my belonging has allowed me to peel back the layers and find decisive answers and my voice.  Now that I have started this process of connecting to my voice and self, I live each day more and more in my own experience of belonging.  Even though I walk between two cultures, I gave myself permission to no longer carry the weight and shame of either one.  Instead, I am allowing and freeing myself of this weight to witness my life in new ways that are filled with growth and compassion.

For me, true belonging requires me to dig deeper and to heal the parts of me that I had not confronted and buried deeply.  Living with my deeply rooted fears of abandonment, rejection, shame, hurt, anger are feelings I choose to deal with in very slow, but persistent ways.   And still, these feelings wanted to hold onto me for survival and protection.  It’s the only way some of us know how to exist, and sadly, the only way some of us will ever know.  Our stories run deep.  I believe that we can carry generational trauma that we inherited from others, as well as pass this on.  My trauma is not going to be passed on to my kids or grandchildren or any future generations to come.   My trauma is mine to deal with and mine to understand with empathy, love and compassion.  Healing as self-care has become a part of my daily routine just as much as drinking my tea and sleeping every day. My awareness of what I need and implementing it in whatever form of healing I need this day or that day will be ongoing.  My sense of belonging to myself grows more each day, and I find myself feeling lighter, more free, happier and whole because I am doing just what I need to do for myself.   

Living life on my terms isn’t about the kind of car I drive or how my house is arranged inside.  It’s about living life with how I chose to heal, to take care of myself, and to continue to find my place of self-belonging.  I am never going to apologize or feel shame for the strong woman I have become.  I am blessed, guided and grateful for how my life has evolved.  While I don’t know the Korean culture or my birth family, I will know how to love and belong to the woman I am today.  I now know how to see myself as enough, just as I am without apology or regret.   

Peggy Galdamez

Thank you, Peggy for so bravely sharing your story with us!

Please show Peggy some love in the comments below.

Podcast: Adoptees On with Haley Radke


Books: Braving the Wilderness, Brené Brown

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8 thoughts on “Adoptee Limelight Spotlighting Peggy Galdamez”

  1. Beautiful writing Peggy. I am half Armenian/Caucasian adoptee. I didn’t know a lot about my Armenian roots until I reunited about 20 years ago with that side of the family. It is wonderful that you accept your self love with the realization that healing is an ongoing process.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Paula! Thank you for your kind comments on my article. I bet you have an amazing story with your adoption and being reunited. We lead such intricate and complex lives as adoptees. The self love, healing process is ongoing and I continue to be grateful for this. Wishing you well. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your story. I loved the part about going to SF and seeing so many Asians. Having two cultures is a joy in many ways. Coming from one of Indiginous people who I don’t live near anymore, different tribes have different cultures, and I only know my own, and so feel an outsider (and don’t even try to connect) to people of Salish culture here. I realized that even the European part that I am was hidden from me as a child, and so it was fun to learn of Northern European cultures and even meet people who are cousins in Norway. In elementary school an assignment was to write a paper about my ancestors countries. My adoptive family said to use theirs to use their ancestors and it felt like I was an imposter of those places. I often wonder what adoptees who more clearly look Asian or African are told to say when this topic comes up?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mazi, thank you for sharing your experience and insights on your own experiences with two cultures. I think so many adoptees can relate to the experience of not fitting in and feeling like an outside or imposter as you shared. I can only imagine how you felt having to write about your adoptive family’s ancestors but not your own. These kinds of experiences are internalized and give us pause later as adults I feel. I remember having to do a family tree in elementary school and it was weird and I didn’t really know what to do or how to do it. It’s like lying and telling the truth at the same time – so strange. Thank you for sharing with me and I am wishing you well in your journey of self-discovery. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautifully written and lived Peggy! I’m also a Korean Adoptee living in the Midwest and just beginning to tackle what all of that means. Your words bring me much needed hope in a way forward. Thank you so much for sharing here ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sara! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me. I truly appreciate it. Living and understanding our experiences as adoptees are layered on and in us in so many different ways. I know it is not always evident or easy and I also know that like you said, there is hope in finding ourselves (our true self) in this process of uncovering. I am wishing you well in your journey. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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