My parents likely didn’t know what they were doing, raising me as an adopted Korean kid in the 1980s-90s. There were no internet groups for adoptive parents, few written books or resources on the topic and limited access to social workers specializing in this area. In many ways, this was uncharted territory for them. But one thing I can say is that they did try their best. They tried to socialize me with other adopted kids from Korea (although at the end of the day, we kind of forgot that that was the one big thing we had in common), presented me with the option to attend Korean culture camps (I ended up volunteering as a counselor at one of them, and that’s as far as I was comfortable going), letting me take tae kwan do one summer, cooking white sticky rice for dinner from time-to-time and buying me a subscription to A. Magazine as a teenager (which I think now goes by the name of Hyphen Magazine). Looking back on it all, one can’t help but admire them for trying (and sometimes succeeding) in raising me to have an appreciation for my identity as an adopted Korean American.
But there were of course some things they would never have been able to predict or talk about, and without consistent role models for me to interact with, I had to figure some things out on my own. Here are a few things no one ever told me about growing up Korean and adopted in America: Continue reading “Things No One Ever Told Me About Growing Up Korean and Adopted in America”
Not too long ago, I wrote about my decision to take a DNA test as a Korean adoptee. This was a very personal choice that took me a few years to comfortably make. For various reasons, I resisted the desire to learn more about where I came from for as one fellow adoptee said to me regarding us adoptees’ personal resolutions to do anything related to unearthing more information about ourselves and our pasts, such a step can be scary, because once you open that Pandora’s box, you cannot control what comes out. Continue reading “Opening a Pandora’s Box: Taking a DNA Test”
Almost any adoptee can relate to the curiosity one’s friends and peers might have about what it’s like being adopted. Some questions are household staples, others come dangerously close to being too personal and some are flat-out inappropriate. I’ve compiled list of some of the common questions I have been asked over the years and my responses to each: Continue reading “My Life as an Adoptee in Q&A”
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”
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”