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”

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”

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”

South Korea – May 2017: Packing and Planning

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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”

Living with two names: reclaiming birth identities

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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”