To Search or Not to Search — That is the Question

A very good adoptee friend of mine has spent the entire 10+ years we have known each other searching for his biological family. He has done it all—TV appearances, DNA testing—he even found the bridge in Seoul where he was allegedly abandoned and the police station a good Samaritan took him to as an infant—all the way down to the police log recording his arrival at the station. But he has never been successful in finding out where he came from. Continue reading “To Search or Not to Search — That is the Question”

The Social Politics of Abandonment and Thoughts on Genetic Migration

Last week a friend from my past reached out to me, wanting to meet up for dinner. I had not seen Abby (not her real name) for at least five years, although we have loosely kept in touch. She was in DC from the Atlanta area for work-related travel and wanted to meet during her short time here.

Abby and I know each other from our days living in Orlando, Florida—a period of my life I often describe as being the weirdest, most frightening time of my adulthood years. Abby was one of several girl friends who was a transplant to the city just as I was, and I relied on her and a few others to help me reconnect with the normal world when things got too weird down in O-Town, a strange city that is so unlike the sterile fairy-tale fantasy of Disney World.

Anyway, we met up for dinner at Fireworks Pizza in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, Virginia, not too far from where she was staying. It was really good to see her. She looked exactly the same as I remembered—she hadn’t changed a bit—still the stunning, younger version of Cameron Diaz I remembered her to be. So little had changed since we last met and yet our lives had completely transformed from our Orlando days. It was great to see that it was relatively easy picking up from where we left off nearly five years ago in a city neither of us no longer live in.

Abby told me how she had been following me and my posts about adoption, as well as my recent trip to Korea, and she was fascinated with the experiences I have had, the things I have learned and the thoughts I have shared online. I was surprised to hear this as she has not reacted online to my writings and posts, but it was wonderful to hear that she has been reading my contributions, and she admitted many of the stories I have shared were relatable to her own life, which is something I did not expect to hear. Continue reading “The Social Politics of Abandonment and Thoughts on Genetic Migration”

The One Word You Need to Know When Traveling to Korea

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Nampo-dong shopping district, Busan. Summer of 2006.

As an adoptee traveling to Korea, there are many useful words you’ll want to know: hello, good morning, thank you, good-bye, how much is this, where is the bathroom…but just as equally important is the word 입양아 (ib-yang-ah) which translates into the word “adoptee.” Trust me when I tell you that knowing this word will save you many headaches.

The thing is, when you’re in Korea, Koreans are naturally going to assume you speak Korean. And when you don’t speak Korean to them, they are going to assume you are second, third, fourth-generation Korean-American/Canadian/etc. and that your parents did a lousy job of raising you for not teaching you how to speak “our language,” and trust me when I say that you’ll get an earful, and it won’t always be nice. It can pretty much border on being offensive. Continue reading “The One Word You Need to Know When Traveling to Korea”

KoRoot and the Politics of International Adoption in Korea

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KoRoot—a guest house for Korean adoptees visiting Seoul.

While I have known about KoRoot for a while, it wasn’t until my recent trip to Korea that I actually stepped foot into the hostel. For those unfamiliar with KoRoot, it’s a guest house created especially for Korean adoptees and their families when they visit Seoul, often for the first time and sometimes in an effort to trace biological family members in the country. Priced economically, KoRoot offers room, board, meals, cultural events and social activities for its guests and the Seoul adoptee community. It also is engaged in local outreach activities aimed at educating Korean society about international adoption and some of the social forces driving it, topics that are still very sensitive in this country fixated on family bloodlines and social perceptions. Continue reading “KoRoot and the Politics of International Adoption in Korea”

Thoughts on the Movie “Lion”

Spoiler Alert!   Spoiler Alert!   Spoiler Alert!  

I’m finally on vacation and have already experienced my first full day in Korea yesterday. It’s pretty great to be back in the country after leaving ten years ago following a five year period of living here.

It’s also great to have so much free time, something I did not have back home prior to this trip. Even the 14 1/2 hour flight from DC to Seoul was relaxing! And it wasn’t just the fact that economy class on Korean Air includes a bottle of water, a pair of slippers, a sleeping mask, blanket, and toothbrush and toothpaste kit all waiting for you at your seat upon your entry onto the plane. Nor is it the kind post-it note Korean Air puts on your seat while you are sleeping during times they are serving food, letting you know that once you awake, you should ring them so they can bring you the warm meal you missed during your nap. It has been so much more than those small but meaningful touches that have made this such a relaxing vacation so early on my journey.

But for all the promises I made myself about how I was going to spend the long flight to Seoul reading and writing, I am guilty of doing neither. Instead, I binged watched recent movies on the airline’s in-flight movie service. And one of the movies I saw was “Lion,” based on a true story and starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman. The movie is about an adoptee from India who was adopted by a loving Australian couple and his journey as an adult to find his birth family in India. Continue reading “Thoughts on the Movie “Lion””