Two years ago my friend Gabriel (not her real name so as to protect her privacy) reached out to me, wanting to talk about adoption. Gabriel is an accomplished, single woman in her early 40s who, like many girls and young women, always thought she’d one day marry and have a family of her own. Except it didn’t quite happen the way she was led to believe it would. Continue reading “Advice from an Adoptee to First-time Soon-to-be Adoptive Parents”
For several years now, DNA tests have been used to help adoptees find their biological parents and/or living family members. They have also been instrumental in absence of family medical records.
The Korean adoptee community has been at the forefront of utilizing DNA tests to pair adoptees with living biological family members—or at least attempt to give adoptees more information about their genetic make-up, but as an outside observer has pointed out to me, this collection of DNA is doing something much more—it’s compiling recorded data on Korea’s adoptee community, something that has not existed before. Continue reading “Why I’ve Decided to Take a DNA Test”
It’s been months since I booked my ticket to Seoul for late May and only now is it finally starting to feel somewhat real. I’m in almost daily contact with my hosts, a Korean-American adoptee (Tim) who I have known for more than ten years now, and his Korean wife and their young son. Because of their generosity as my hosts, I am able to make this trip to my birth country, exactly ten years from when I left Korea after living there for five years in my 20s. Continue reading “South Korea – May 2017: Packing and Planning”
When I was in second grade, I went through a mini identity crisis. For reasons I can’t really remember (I was probably bored and wanted to seem unique), I decided to use my Korean birth name on all my school papers. Of course everyone at school, including my teacher, knew me as Jodi, but for some reason, I wanted people to start knowing me as Soh Young (or Lee Soh Young / 이소영 to be exact). And so for a couple months, that was what I did. I used my Korean name on all my school papers and temporarily went by the first name of Soh Young. Kind of dorky, I know. But for some reason, it seemed important to me at the time.
It didn’t last long. Continue reading “Living with two names: reclaiming birth identities”
Even as a Korean adoptee myself, I find it impossible to put into words the urgency many fellow adoptees have to personally learn more about their origins. In some ways, it’s a kind of desperation, a feeling of incompleteness so many people in this world take for granted. And while my own curiosity about the early months of my life has not yet transformed into a need to know where I came from (although I am curious), I am still all too familiar with the complexities involved in not knowing. It’s a strange feeling. And while I understand the importance the search for answers represents for many, I was not prepared for a particular Facebook page I stumbled across dedicated to Korean adoptees searching for their birth families.
Bombarded, one after another, with images of Korean babies and children from the ’60s and onward, combined with sometimes desperate pleas for help in finding biological family, I was not prepared for the emotional magnitude that accompanied this public Facebook group. As I read story after story, and viewed photo after photo, the only expressions that came to my mind were vulgarities of disbelief, “Holy shit.” “Jesus Christ.” “What the fuck?” The sadness I felt was completely unexpected.