Things No One Ever Told Me About Growing Up Korean and Adopted in America

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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”

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”

Writing on the Go: Reactions

I’m usually very organized, but for some reason, I’m all over the place right now juggling work and preparing for my trip on Thursday. But I had to take a few moments to share some quick thoughts on some adoptee-related news: Continue reading “Writing on the Go: Reactions”

Advice from an Adoptee to First-time Soon-to-be Adoptive Parents

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”

Why I’ve Decided to Take a DNA Test

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”