Back in September, I posted an Instagram sharing 10 random facts about myself. One fact mentioned how I am Korean, but I was adopted and someone said they would love to read a blog post sharing the story. Awhile ago, I probably would have dismissed the idea because I really did not want to get too personal on my blog, but now, I rather like the fact of being more open with you all since I rebranded and I thought this would be of interest to some of you. The story of my adoption and Korean-American background means a lot to me and definitely explains more about who I am and what defines me as a person.
Born in Busan, South Korea
…on April 23, 1995. According to my paper work, my birth mother was only 16 years old when she had me, so I guess she ultimately decided the best solution was to put me up for adoption. Aside from these facts, this is all I know about my birth mom. It is crazy to think she is only 38 years old right now. However, her life changing decision to put me up for adoption changed the course of my life forever…and I am so grateful because of it.
Raised in Pennsylvania, USA
I arrived in American when I was about 4 months old and was greeted by my parents and the majority of my extended family at the airport. Obviously, I do not have any recollection of this event given my young age, but I am lucky enough to relive it every now and then because my parents recorded the whole affair on VCR, complete with a cheesy soundtrack (think “What a Wonderful World” by Louie Armstrong) and everything.
My parents are white, primarily a mixture of Irish, Polish and Hungarian, but they were born and raised in America. As soon as I began to talk, my mom taught me how to recite, “I was born in South Korea and I came on an airplane” to anyone I came across. I honestly think that since then, I was engrained to never really forget about my culture.
Four years later, my parents adopted my younger brother, Hunter, from South Korea as well. Thus, completing our little family! I had a very easy-going childhood. Our home is in the suburbs of Pennsylvania and I honestly think I will come back here when it is time for me to start my own family with my own children.
I grew up in a predominately white community, which was completely fine, but it meant I was not exposed to much cultural diversity growing up. Aside from a couple of Asian friends, ethnically there was not much I could relate to. Not to mention, there were even less Asians in the media then there are today, making it hard to truly relate to pop culture. I am sure a lot of Asians growing up questioned why there were not any people who looked like themselves on TV or in the movies.
In middle school, I discovered the realm of K-pop and K-drama with one of my best friends, who also happened to be adopted from South Korea. For a good year or two, we were completely enraptured by this huge cultural phenomenon. We consumed so much media, it was sort of overwhelming. This introduction to Korean pop culture filled the void we were both missing from media in America. Eventually, my obsession with Korean music dissipated, but I think this period of time really developed my cultural identity.
Much later down the road, I ended up learning Korean for two years at university and have been dating a Korean guy for the past four years! It has been interesting learning about my culture through interactions with his family. They mostly communicate in Korean, so it has been great for my listening skills!
Now, I occasionally still listen to a Korean song (mainly Dean) or get immersed in a Korean drama when I am in the mood for something cheesy and melodramatic (Strong Woman Do Bong Soon is my favorite), the fashion continually inspires me and of course we cannot forget about the power of Korean skincare!
Meeting my Birth Mom?
In the future, I definitely want to plan an all-encompassing trip to the motherland. I have been dying to do some shopping in 홍대 (Hongdae) and pig out at 동대문 (Dongdaemun), the famous night market. I also want to travel to the other side of the country and visit the place in which I was born, 부산 (Busan), which I hear has such fresh, to-die-for seafood.
Many times, I have considered contacting my adoption agency, Pearl S. Buck, to see if I can get access to any information that would aid me in finding my birth mom when I am there. The prospect of finding my birth mom seems rather daunting in retrospect because I cannot help but think about the millions of complications that could get in the way. What if I find her, but she has no interest in meeting me? I am not sure when I will be able to go to South Korea again, but if the opportunity arises in which there is a chance I could meet her, I would take it in a heartbeat.
I identify as Korean-American because both sides of my culture are as equally important to me. Although, I was an Asian girl growing up in a white community, I was lucky enough to never have a cultural identity crisis or to never have remorse over the fact that I was Asian and not a part of the majority. I am so proud of my adoption background and who I am and I am not afraid to share it. I encourage you all to embrace your culture more if you have not already! After all, despite certain political leaders or thoughts, cultures are what make the human race so fascinating and so different from one another. It is truly a beautiful thing when they are able to come together harmoniously.