In my “about me” video called Point of Origin, I talk about being adopted.
My birth name is Yang Ya Hui. Yang is my surname. Ya Hui is my given name and I’ve always thought it sounded like the hebrew name Yah-Weh for GOD. So in my mind, I’ve always thought, I am the almighty.
Actually, in the Chinese language, my name is referred to as a “supermarket name,” because it’s a pretty common name. So there’s really nothing almighty about it, unlike my American French Polish name, Michelle Jacquline Dominique KRUSIEC, which is oh so sexy. By the way, “it’s pronounced Krusiec like music.” That’s how my Pop would tell people to pronounce it. I say that too, but my name continues to be butchered over loud speakers, on stage, you name it. Not very sexy.
I’m the oldest of 5 chidren. My next sister down and I were both given up for adoption. My three other siblings stayed with the family. I was given to my biological Aunt and moved to America. My younger sister was given away to a family who eventually moved away to Japan (so I’ve been told). I haven’t seen her since I was 3. I don’t think my younger sister Yang Ya Ping knows she’s Taiwanese and adopted. I’d love to find her.
Look for my little sister. Make a documentary about it.
Looking for my little sister really is on my to do list.
My point of origin has always been steeped in mystery. As my birth mother tells it, when I was still in her womb, she was approached by a fortune teller who predicted that if I was born a girl, I would only give her half of everything I owned and I would end up living in America. He even predicted that I would travel the world by the time I was 21 (which came true). If I was a boy, the fortune teller predicted that I would give her all of everything I owned and I would always look after her. Maybe this is why my mother gave both my sister and I up? My mother was trying to weigh out her options for the future? She was also 17 years old at the time, young, uneducated and had limited means. She went on to have 4 daughters and 1 son. She stopped having children after she gave birth to my little brother.
Growing up in America, my adoptive mother put a lot of pressure on me especially to achieve so that I could not only save her, but also save my family of origin. When you finally individuate, you learn that your really can’t save anyone, just yourself, but I knew it was the immigrant way: work very hard to prove your worth, take nothing for granted. I didn’t enjoy the pressure of having to succeed, but I learned resilience. Knowing my point of origin has empowered me to stay my course and continue asking, what is my voice and where is my narrative taking me?
I have strived to make something from nothing.
My biological birth mother, who’s very superstitious, tried to convince me to change my supermarket name. She consulted with a fortune teller who said it would help my career if I changed it. I considered it, because there had always been an air of magic around my coming to America, becoming an actor, finding very early success. Ultimately I decided against it. Not that I’m well known in Taiwan, but people who know of me, know me by my supermarket name (because no Chinese person can pronounce the polish one).
Superstition may have gotten me to America, but superstition won’t give you a career. It was going to be me, my truth. My commonality. My universality to start with nothing and grow into something that would allow me to make a difference in the world. My nature is real, down-to-earth but with a firm belief that magic does exist around us. These are my roots. I wanted to embrace that.
What is your point of origin?