Strength and Resilience

As adoptees, our stories begin in another land -- they begin with immigration. Our stories may be different from that of most immigrants, but as immigrants, we share the strength and resilience that are necessary to uproot ourselves and begin a new life in a foreign land not of our choosing.

I was born in CheChon, South Korea. I have a biological brother who is a year and a half younger than me. We were both placed in an orphanage in the city that we were born in. I don't know who my birth parents are. I am currently in the process of finding out more about my adoption story and about my birth parents.

My adoptive mom couldn't have kids of her own because she had ovarian cancer. She always wanted children so both her and my dad made the decision to adopt. They went through Holt International for their adoption process. One night at dinner, they received a phone call from their case manager that they had a brother and sister that they wanted to place in a home and asked if my parents would be interested in adopting a brother and sister that they wanted to keep together. Before, my parents could say yes, they talked about it while keeping the case manager on the phone. They agreed to adopt both of us without any hesitation.

I was adopted on April 7, 1988. I was five when I was adopted. The first year, I had to learn a new language and acclimate to my new surroundings and to my new family. I was too young to comprehend that I was being adopted. I was told by my mom how scared I was when I first  met my new family. I didn't talk. They were surprised because they were told that I was outgoing and talkative but that first initial meeting I was shy and apprehensive. My mom also told me how that first night in my new home how I cried going to sleep.

My family made sure that both my brother and I adapted very well and made sure that we were being taken care of mentally, emotionally and physically. I don't recollect any prior knowledge of my adoptive family. My parents did receive pictures of both my brother and I along with medical information and our background as to why we were placed in the orphanage along with other information about both my brother and I. My relationship with my adoptive parents growing up has always been a good one. They have supported me in everything that I have ever done.

As I grew older, I began to struggle with my identity. I've always known that I was adopted and a person of color. That was something I struggled with. I would communicate to my parents how I was dealing with these things and they listened and it was hard on them as well that I was going through this period of questioning who I was. My dad past away when I was 25 from cancer. My mom and I had a rough patch after he died but now we have reconciled and she has been the one constant person who has been there for me during my struggles of anxiety and depression and living a life of sobriety.

Adoption has made me see the world differently and how I love people. As an adoptee, I feel that I am more of an inclusive person and more accepting of others because of my parents and how they opened their home to both my brother and I without any hesitations.

Besides adapting to my new surroundings, the one challenge I had to overcome and still work through is fear of abandonment. Even though I love people, I am always worrying about being abandoned and left behind. I am grateful for my small group of friends who help me through this. Fear of abandonment is one of the causes for my anxiety. I get anxious when I feel that I am not heard but more so when I am alone for long periods of time. I allow myself to spin in circles by questioning myself about whether my actions were right or wrong or whether I did or did not do enough, or whether I said something wrong or not.

For a long time, I have allowed fear and my anxiety to hold me back from achieving my purpose that God has planned out for my life. The one area I am proud of is my heart of hospitality and willingness to serve people and meet them where they are at in their lives.

My biggest dream is to own a house and open my home to a family/individuals in the refugee community and live life with them. For most of my life, I have had a desire to go into ministry and living life on a daily basis with people in the refugee community is where I am called to serve. This year, I have enrolled in a discipleship training class to help jump start and fulfill my dream. My other dream is to write a book one day. However, my two biggest goals this year, are to visit Korea and to get my ESL teaching certification.

As adoptees, society forgets that we are immigrants as well and our stories often are forgotten and untold. As an Asian-American, I've become more aware of who I am and how I fit into the immigration story. There is a lot of pain in my immigration story. Yes, I am someone's daughter but I am still treated as an “other” by society. I am still being marginalized. My voice isn't often heard. My face is often not seen. I am in this constant tug-of-war between where I am from, who I am as an Asian-American woman, and how I belong. Being torn from our roots is something that all adoptees experience. We have a need to seek the truth about where we're from even though it may be impossible to do so. I hope to find my birth parents and I hope that they were both okay.