My Adopted Story So Far. Very Long Story.

I'm not really good at writing, grammar, and all around story telling. Although I speak perfect english, I am a God-Awful writer..... So please excuse my mistakes, rambles, and boring parts throughout the story. Second, for all of you reading who may know who I am, please, keep it to yourself.

I guess I should start with myself. My name doesn't matter. I am 20 years old and study up at the University of Minnesota Duluth Campus right off of the beautiful Lake Superior.

I was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1992. Before birth, my fate of being adopted was already set in stone. I was put into foster care, and then shortly after, I was united with the two people I would grow up knowing as "Mom" and "Dad" for the rest of my life. I know I have names of my birth parents, the agency, and my foster mom. But to me, all of those things are irrelevant. I want to share what it's been like for me as an adoptee growing up, not my beginning story, as I'm sure many of you have a similar one. I don't have some sorry story about being dropped off, or abandoned. I was simply adopted, and that is that.

The earliest memories I have of being adopted are when I was young. I was probably 3 or 4 when I can remember the first time I was told "You are adopted". My parents say that they have always told me I was adopted and I don't argue that statement. For as long as I can remember, I've been adopted. At the time I didn't really think much of it. I was 3 or 4, all I wanted to do was play with my cousin and watch Power Rangers. It wasn't until my elementary school years and up that I really questioned what adoption was and what it meant.

I can remember when I first asked my Mom why I was adopted. She told me that my mother and father gave me up so that I could have a better life. She said life would have been really hard on my birth mother being single in Korea trying to raise a son on her own. I was told that my birth mother and birth father loved me, they loved me so much, they knew adoption would be best. I loved them(birthparents) for that and as a first grader, that was a lot to think about. I can remember looking around the room on days where parents would visit their children during school. It was hard watching all of my other classmates with their parents, parents who looked like them. And then there was me, this little asian boy with two white parents who look look closer to the kid across the room. It was around then, that I noticed I was different than the rest of the kids. But even though I was different, I knew my birthparents loved me, somewhere, they loved me.

On days when I would feel sad I would make my mother carry me around in her sweatshirt, pretending she had carried me in her belly for 9 months. I remember sitting in her sweatshirt being able to see the light pass through it as she would walk around the house, occasionally bumping into things to make me laugh, it did help me feel a little better about being adopted. It made me feel like I was actually hers. They also enrolled me in summer camps in MN built on South Korean culture. I attended several, but Camp Choson was the most important. It was through here that some of the greatest and worst memories I have were made.

Camp Choson is a South Korean camp focused around South Korean culture, or at least that's what they say. I attended this camp for years and years, at one point I was even a counselor. Here my thoughts about adoption changed. What I viewed as a once beautiful thing, became shattered and sank to an empty pit of disgrace. My first impressions of the camp were great. I was young at the time. I was finally with kids who were just like me! They had parents just like me! They knew exactly what it's like to be me! I loved it. I made some of my best friends here and for my first several years I couldn't wait until Choson would roll around. All the pretty young asian girls (one of which would become my current ex-girlfriend), the Milkis, the food, seeing my friends who were just like me. But soon enough resident camp came around. It was during this time that I watched many of my best friends succumb to drugs and alcohol. Something I was too young to understand.

It changed them. It changed me. I hated watching my closest friends become nothing more than addicts. How could they think it was cool? I didn't use drugs or drink, I was raised on a family with values. I steered clear of them. It felt horrible losing my friends, these kids who I had hung out with for a decade. My best friend ********, who I had known since 1st grade became nothing more than a drugged up loser. Keep in mind, I was still probably only a 10th grader. This is just how I felt during this time period. It erased many of my positive thoughts about adoption and replaced them with this idea that all korean adoptees end up this way. I began to view adoption as more of a recycling process than anything. We were recycled children. Our birthparents didn't want kids like us, so they just put us in a bin and passed us on for the next sorry sap to deal with us. I hated them, I hated me, I hated adoption. I pushed them away.

It was around this time that I met ****, the girl who I would love for a little over a year. She was a south korean adoptee too. She didn't use drugs or alcohol, she was perfect. I won't touch on this much, but to sum it up, I mentally abused this girl. I loved her, but I also could never forget that she would end up like all the others, she was just another korean while trying to love this girl, I was also trying to push her away...I was devastated when she broke up with me, but I don't blame her in the least bit. It was right for her to do so. In the end I pushed her away as well. For the record, she never did end up like everyone else at camp.

Over time, my parents noticed I was growing further away from them. They noticed I wasn't on the phone with my "asian friends" all the time. I wasn't hanging out with them. I wasn't acting the same. They knew something was wrong. I told them all about my friends. They then told me something about my adoption. They said that during the first 3-6 months of a child's birth, it is the key time for a child to learn who they can love, who they can be close to, who is safe. I was constantly moved around from one to another during this time. They said that maybe the reason I wanted to push them away was because I viewed them as unsafe, somewhere in my head, I knew they were just going to leave. This..was true. It made sense. Why else would I want to push everyone away? Why did I always have this feeling to push away someone the closer I got to them? It would also explain another fact, I rarely say "I love you" to my parents, or anyone else for that matter. Occasionally they pull it out of me. But I don't say it, it feels awkward and strange. This story they told me only reinforced my feelings towards adoption. Instead, they weren't the problemed recycled children, I was. After that, I didn't think about adoption until my senior year in high school, I tried to leave it behind me.

Senior year. At this point in time, I had ditched my Choson friends. They were long gone to me. I had never mentioned my feeling of being a recycled child, of course I never really remembered it either. Until one day. Upon getting into an argument at school with a kid, he mentioned that my adoption was made because my parents didn't even want me. Well, that..... sucked, I knew it was kind of a joke, but stuff like that crosses the line for me, I just held it in though. Then the senior retreat happened. The senior retreat was a thing for seminar class only, we left for a couple days with our class and went to a special secluded area to get more "in tune" with each other. It was the best thing that had happened since my first impressions of Choson.

There was a moment during the retreat where everyone in my seminar class sat in a circle and we all told our biggest secrets I would like to say. Out of privacy for them, I will never mention any of their stories of course. But bottom line was is that each story was very sensitive, a lot of tears were shed, a lot of stories that meant the world to us were shared. Then it came my turn, the minute I started talking, I couldn't help but fall into tears. I told them about how to me, being an adoptee was a feeling of disgrace. We were recycled children. We were nothing more than that newspaper you threw in the garbage that would become next weeks. I said how when people mention it, even as a joke that "your parents didn't even want you", still was the most hurtful thing you could say. This was the first time I had ever mentioned anything about my feelings towards adoption since I was young. The response given to me was acceptance.

For the first time in a long time, I wasn't adopted. I wasn't recycled. I was just like them. They didn't have to be adopted to be like me. Everyone had a rough story to share. I finally realized what I had been searching for. I didn't hate adoption, I just wanted to be accepted, I didn't want to be different, I didn't want to be a "problem child". And to them, I wasn't.

Upon leaving the retreat, it was said that every story shared, will be left there. I left all of my hatred towards adoption behind me, I don't like it, but I don't hate it. It is what it is. Since then I have been pursuing my career of being an actuary. I have grown somewhat closer to my family, but I have quite a long way to go. But, I'm only 20. I've got a whole lifetime ahead of me.

If you read this whole thing, thank you for your time. I'm sorry if it wasn't what you expected. Please do keep in mind, I cannot word out some of the things I think. So what may be the biggest thing may be worded very poorly or under-described.
AnonymousKA AnonymousKA
4 Responses Sep 14, 2012

I read your entire essay and applaud you for posting it and sharing your experiences. I have a somewhat different take on adoption, but just like everything in life everyone's experience and perspective is different. For me, adoption is a part of who I am, but doesn't define me any more than any other attribute of my life does/did/will. Not to say it isn't important or impactful, but it's never been something I've consciously thought about on an ongoing basis. I'm a person, with wonderful parents (one who has now been deceased for a number of years as a result of an accident), a wonderful family of my own, and a great life behind and ahead of me. Kudos to you for not following your friends down unhealthy paths in life and making decisions for yourself. Just be yourself, be proud of who you are, and remember that you are "you", regardless of how you came into this world. Whatever you are, whoever you are, you have the ability to make your own way in the world and be the best person you can be.

BTW, 1992 rang a bell for me as well. It was the year I graduated high school. :-)

Thanks for sharing. Your journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance is an important one. I hope that You will find your path. I just started this meet up group for adoptees...I am also a Korean adoptee. I came to the US when I was 6 and I can completely relate to your story. I went to College of St. Benedict in MN, so I am familiar with MN. I am watching this movie right now about Chinese adoptees into white families. It's called Somewhere Between...I think all adoptees should watch this. Email me if you're interested in conversing some more. Susan

Dear AnonymousKA,
You are so young & to have all these stuff inside you is a big load to carry. If I can be of little help-I am here for you now.
I too, grew up in Mn. In fact my husband has a brother there in Duluth. I have not been there but planning on see it one of these yearly trips that I make to Mn.
I am in Korea right now-my 3rd trip. I have been searching for my background for long time.
I was also abandoned & lived in a orphanage till 5 yrs of age. All I knew was the life in that cement walled in orphanage. Back then Korea was very much in poverty. And now, I don't recognize anything. I do tend to gravitate towards the countryside, mts. & rural areas.
Your story caught me because maybe I can give you some little help that I never got from anyone.
There is an author who wrote about adoption who happens to be an adoptee. I hear that she has passed but left her mark for all us adoptees. Her name is Betty Jean Lifton. She has written numerous books but the one I would recommend is "Journey of the Adopted Self". I'm not going to say this is a cure all for us but to have some who has gone thru "our journey" is enough to put the time into it. I find the book very validating. Because of the validation, a whole baggage weight was lifted off my shoulders. Reading the book, I am realizing why I am the way I am. No amount of people or best friends or relatives have given me more clear view of myself.
Another book by a different author-Ronald J. Nydam. This book also very good. I got these books on & very inexpensive.
My "long" story is little different than yours but our journey is the same. I, too hate the "Adoption" thing. I cringe when I hear someone is adopted or is adopting. Did you know that Mn was the first U.S. state to except Korean adoption?
On my first visit to Korea, it was very emotional & I cried a lot. I hated the Koreans & it's gov't for not dealing w/ their abandoned, illegitimate, Amerasians(half white/ half Asian), & orphaned children. Because of their "shame" in the above mess that it's people created,they did not know how to deal w/it, it was decided to ship "it" all out to foreign lands. And now, all the adoptees are coming back to Korea looking & wanting what is rightfully ours & the Korean people ask " why have you come back?- we sent you to a better place". Our roots are in Korea!!
I have gone thru all your pains & more- same w/ you & yourself.
Maybe sometime, we can meet in Duluth. We already know each other.
I have great admiration for your bravery!

Blessings & comfort in your journey!