Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Kara Kondo Interview
Narrator: Kara Kondo
Interviewers: Alice Ito (primary), Gail Nomura (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: December 7 & 8, 2002
Densho ID: denshovh-kkara-01-0045

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KK: And meantime we -- after Tak came back -- we had an opportunity to adopt our first child, who was six, (living) at the Washington Children's Home Society (in Seattle). We found a little history on her, but (knew) she was very reluctant to leave the home, the Children's Home Society. And we visited her and eventually adopted her. But she was a very insecure child who was half Japanese and had experienced a very traumatic experience in Japan, although she came from a caring mother. But her father, her natural father, (...) who was with the occupation, army occupation in Japan, in the military intelligence (that) was trying to get some information from her -- my daughter's mother. (She) had married a Chinese general who was with the Chiang Kai-shek's army. And, of course, you know the history of Chiang Kai-shek (...) going to Taiwan. And I think that the U.S. military was interested in what (kind of) military activity that was occurring, and they had targeted Elaine's mother as a source of information. But her natural father, who was American, felt that Elaine would have very little opportunity in Japan to grow up normally and had requested that his cousin adopt her -- a cousin who lived in Seattle. Eventually she was adopted and came, at the age of three, to Seattle. (She) did not work out with this family. She had two older siblings (there) and one younger one. They (finally) gave her up to the Children's Home Society. So she has a lot of traumatic, young traumatic, traumatic experience for a young child, and so she was very insecure. So it was, it was a difficult time for her, and it was for us. But I'm very proud to say she's a beautiful, intelligent, and talented person and, who is, or has been, a wonderful mother. She has been a wonderful daughter. And... which, but it was fun to bring her up. As a mother -- and those of you who have children know that you have problems, too, with a normal -- [Laughs]

GN: It must have changed your life tremendously.

KK: Oh, it has, it did change my life, and I remember --

GN: For the better.

KK: And the friends that first met her would say, "What a wild child. How are you going to ever tame her?" [Laughs] But we used every kinds of means, and even the teenage years were very, very difficult. But in looking over it, I feel that we did as best as we could, and that's all that parents can say, right?

AI: Well you also had a, a son.

KK: Yes. But there's a difference of ten years between Elaine and Lance. And Lance was another story. His mother, who was a, a Nisei that grew up in, (...) her family (that) had moved to St. Louis. (...) Her older sister was a surgical nurse in Yakima. And so as a, a teenage mother -- unmarried mother -- she decided she would come to Yakima for the delivery, and her, with the thought that her older sister would adopt this child. And her older sister, who was single and had a very responsible position at, at the hospital, realized she could not raise an infant, and so the baby was up for adoption. And it was through some friends who felt, "Oh, well, you have one child, adopted child, you should have this child." And it was a big decision for us, especially for me, who had never been a mother to an infant. And who had to think very seriously about... and I kept thinking, "I'm not going to be able to live long enough to go to his high school graduation." But, it also changed our lives. He was different from his sister, who was quick and bright and a rabid reader, and just, just a talented person. Whereas my son was fun, he was never a problem. He was a good person and very loyal, but he was dyslexic and so why -- we didn't know that until he went to kindergarten, of course. But, but my husband, Tak, was delighted to have a son, and the thing -- I think the beauty was that because he worked different shifts at the pharmacy that he could spend a great deal of time bonding with Lance. And, and I would see them in the morning where the little boy would trot behind his father in the garden, whatever. And it was... and, and his sister -- big sister -- I remember when we went to get him at the hospital she said, "What does he look like?" I said, "He's ugly." And the first thing she said as she looked at him, she said, "Mother, he's not ugly. He's beautiful." [Laughs] And so, there was this bonding. And, and she said to me the other day about something, she said, "Well, he's my brother," as if that takes care of all, all the faults and the problems.

And so I'm so glad to have them because they've changed... as you say, children change your lives. And we have been very blessed having them. So I feel blessed. Sometimes I wish my son would come over more frequently so he could repair all these little things that occur -- [laughs] -- but we are very fortunate to have them. But (then) I often think they were considered, considered "un-adoptable" because (they were) biracial children. And the attitude has changed now, but it, it was at the time, I think. Well, we never felt that kind of stigma because they were (our) children.

<End Segment 45> - Copyright © 2002 Densho. All Rights Reserved.