This post is about adoption from the perspective of someone who actually was adopted. Hopefully it will inspire and help people who are thinking about adoption, or maybe you yourself were adopted and can relate to my adoption story.
Blessed by my adoptive family
Now that I’m an adult I can honestly say that being adopted by my family was the greatest blessing I ever could have possibly had and I am forever grateful to my family for deciding to adopt and for choosing me. Adopting a child doesn’t necessarily change the world, but being adopted changed my entire world. It’s the reason I am here today as a wife, mother, and sports medicine physician. There are no words to say thank you to my family for all they have done and continue to do for me.
Most people know that I was adopted from Seoul, Korea when I was about 1 year old as I don’t keep it a secret and speak openly about my experiences if asked. I don’t actually remember anything about Korea because of how young I was when I was adopted and came to Hawaii and I’ve always known I was adopted because of how honest and upfront my parents were about my adoption. I’ve seen pictures of when I arrived off the plane and have heard the story of how I ran to my new mother and clung to her for dear life. There were also the now funny stories of how I would scream bloody murder in my new crib and wouldn’t sleep until they put me on the floor to sleep when they realized that sleeping on the floor was the standard in the orphanage I was from. I also have a very oddly shaped head, reportedly because newborn babies don’t get turned or held enough to prevent the cephaloplegia (funny shaped head, due to skull deformity from laying on one side or in one position for too long while the skull is soft and still developing).
My story starts at a police station in Seoul, Korea where I was placed outside on the front steps as a newborn baby. I don’t know my actual birthday, but a close approximation was made up for me. Around the same time, my parents, who had been unable to conceive anymore children after having my older sister, had decided to adopt a second child. At the time, adopting children from Korea was common, because I personally know 5 other people around my age who were adopted from Korea. I believe our parents all used the same adoption agency. There is a screening process, an interview, and of course associated fees. Originally my parents had been hoping for a boy. The woman from the adoption agency had my picture because I had stopped thriving at the orphanage and they were trying to get me more urgently placed. It was my older sister who saw my picture and said that “Yes,” I was the baby they wanted.
I arrived from Seoul, Korea wearing rainbow colored pointy shoes holding a South Korean flag and was welcomed by my new family. My parents recall thinking that my mother must have looked like someone I knew because I instantly held on to her for dear life and wouldn’t let go. When I was young I would freak out if I lost sight of her and it was hard for her to even go to the bathroom because I would scream at the top of my lungs whenever I couldn’t see her. Of course these things are recalled by me only in stories, as I don’t remember that far back, and my childhood was likely typical for most American suburban children. My life was filled with school, a best friend, sports, bike rides, and playing in mud. The only notable difference in my upbringing was probably the extended household that I grew up in with my Japanese grandparents and Great-grandmother also being prominent figures in my childhood. Live in grand-parents is common in Hawaii, but not as much in the mainland United States. This multigenerational upbringing instilled a deeper sense of family ties and culture, though I had actually lost my biological ethnic culture.
Always Adoptive Aware
My sister most likely told me that I was adopted from a young age, but I really can’t ever remember NOT knowing. My parents always made me feel special because they said that they and my sister got to choose me and they always emphasized how much they wanted me. I’m sure I had a phase where I wished I wasn’t adopted and that I was my parents “real” child like everyone else. The desire for normalcy and wanting to be like your peers is an age old tale that I certainly was not immune to. My mother is 5th generation Japanese-American in Hawaii and my Father is Scottish-Irish from Edinburgh, so I heard a lot of comments growing up about how I pulled all Japanese or Asian from people who didn’t know I was adopted. I also got comments on my Caucasian last name all the way through medical school, most people thinking that I was already married.
Community of Adoptees
It was nice having friends who were also adopted. They were able to truly understand what it was to be ethnically Korean, but culturally not know anything about it. For the most part I consider myself culturally Japanese, Scottish, and Irish. I’ve actually been to Japan and Scotland, and can speak a little Japanese. Of course now that I’m older I hope to someday visit Korea and learn more about my ethnicity, though truthfully Korean soap operas and Hawaiian-Korean food, like Kim chee and Bi-bim-bap, are the only links to my heritage at this point.
Being adopted definitely shaped who I am. It helped to drive me to excel and achieve. My mother always says I choose to do something and I go out and do it by jumping right in head first, whether it’s being an RA (Resident Assistant) as a freshman in college, deciding that I want to be a doctor, or writing a blog. Once I set my mind to doing something, I do it with my whole heart. I think a part of me always also felt the fear of abandonment after losing my biological parents/family. My youngest memories are of nightmares I used to have about being left behind in various places and being unable to find my family. My family has always been 100% supportive and they treated me like their own from the day I arrived, so in the light of day my rational mind knows that they would never abandon me and they are my biggest cheerleaders and supporters no matter my faults, mistakes, and shortcomings.
Should I Find My Biological Family?
My parents have always encouraged me to find my biological family if I should desire to. I never really felt the pull or that something was missing, like some of the other adopted friends I know. I think it’s because my family has always been so honest and supportive. Now that I have my own children I do see the benefit to knowing my biological family and especially knowing their medical history for the sake of myself and my kids. One of the girls I know was on a show in Korea that specializes in finding the biological families of adoptees. She got to meet her parents, 3 sisters, and brother. So, I may give it a try sometime, but I promise to post about it here first when I do. I definitely want to go back to Seoul someday, but maybe when things are not so hot with North Korea.
Why you should adopt – From Someone Who Was Adopted
- You will change a child’s entire world!
- Fertility issues will not preclude you from adopting
- Other medical conditions will not endanger your life by adopting
- There are hundreds of thousands of orphaned and abandoned children every year world-wide
- You will help the world’s problems with overpopulation and overcrowding
- Adopting caters to the needs and desires of parents; you choose ethnicity, gender, etc.
- You can fulfill your dreams of becoming a parent
The video below was made in 2002 by my co-worker for the Voice of Love, a campaign whose purpose was to be a voice for orphaned children in South Korea. My co-worker was involved because he and his wife have adopted 2 children from South Korea.
Want to know more about me? Read my About Me page here.