Embrace Who You Are

I was born to an unwed mother in Incheon, South Korea.

Born out of wedlock in the 1980's, the realistic outcome of being an unwed mother was very taboo.

My mother lived with her sister during her pregnancy. When I was born, she was unable to see me for reasons unknown to her or myself. Being born with a cleft lip and palate, I was already "different" from birth.

I was given up for adoption due to my birth mother’s inability to financially support me.

I was able to find her couple years ago. She was immensely emotional when we met. She felt guilty for giving up her oldest child.

Today, we have a healthy relationship. We understand that we can't undo the years we have not been together; however, that does not change anything between us. I call her once a month.

In U.S., I grew up in a rural town in northern Indiana. My adoptive family raised me to have integrity, responsibility, and respect.

I was six months when I was adopted and welcomed with open arms by all of my parents' biological children.

My adoption day, also known as A-Day/Arrival Day/Gotcha Day/Airplane Day is January 7th. A date I have tattooed on my leg. A day I will always take time to celebrate.

At the time of my adoption, the local newspaper wrote an article discussing what it meant for our family.

According to the adoption documents, I was in an orphanage, The Social Welfare Society, from the time I was relinquished until I was adopted.

Today, the organization has multiple offices in a lot of major cities in Korea. Their goal is to support unwed mothers, orphans, and children with physical and mental disabilities.

The biggest challenge I had to overcome after being adopted was eating with a cleft lip and palate.

I've had at least eight corrective surgeries for my cleft lip and palate.

Starting from when I was eight months old until I was about 17.

Knowing that I looked different on so many levels, I was at the center of being teased in elementary school, middle school, and high school.

Negative comments regarding my facial features started in Kindergarten.

Racial comments started in middle school and high school.

I overcame the negative aspects of these experiences by having a loving family.

My adoptive family has always encouraged me to continue to laugh and learn how to accept myself for who I am.

My closest friends also played a significant part, as they didn't care how I looked.

I feel so empowered to have been adopted by my family. Not every adoption is perfect, nor is every adoptee "normal".

I can't and absolutely will not speak for others and their adoption. As for mine, I am thankful beyond words.

I'm proud of the person I am today.

My parents did a wonderful job of raising me, holding me accountable for my actions, and letting me learn life lessons on my own.

My siblings mean the world to me and they have continued to support me, as I will continue to support them.

I don't share my story unless I'm asked. I don't want to offend others. Adoption can be a very sensitive topic for many, despite their past, present, or current views.

Sharing my story is not personally important to me.

I know my story.

I embrace it.

I live it.

However, if sharing my story provides a positive influence on others, then peace be the journey.