I never really knew what it meant to be an adopted Korean until my parents began to read a special book to me, written and published by my own adoptive father. The book is called: When You were Born in Korea, and it is specifically written about adoption. (It even has my sister and me featured on the back!) But even after having the book read to me a number of times, my mind was not absorbing anything–it wasn’t until other people (classmates) started pointing out that I looked different compared to my Caucasian parents. By then, I began questioning who I was, why I was here, and all the cliche questions about my birth parents.
I became comfortable with being adopted…I figured that I was given up for a potentially good reason, and I was given a life that my birth parents probably could never have even fantasized for me to grow up in. I was fortunate/lucky enough to become apart of a four-person plus one dog family, where I have enough freedom to be who I am…a Korean American, and not feel ashamed about it in the least bit. Meeting other Korean Americans was one of the best things that has ever happened to me; I joined a Korean Traditional Dance group where other Korean-American adoptees gathered on the weekends to learn Traditional Korean dances and to then perform them for parents. While a dancer, I met my life-long best friends, and I would most definitely not be the same person I am today…I cannot even imagine where I would be without them.
I became infatuated with everything Korean that I could get my hands on…the culture, music, food (especially), and even the language. Granted, I have always been very intimidated about learning the language. However, I have just begun to take classes in hopes that I will someday become fluent enough to get around Korea on my own or with just my friends. I have been to Korea a fair few times, and have always dreamed of being able to communicate freely, and I am praying that that day will soon come.
Growing up and learning about the Korean culture has also forced me to learn the typical “stereotypes” that are distributed alongside the culture…much like American culture, being as thin as possible is the ideal in Korea. And for a while, I fell into a slump about my personal image, and what I should look like to be “truly Korean,” and therefore beautiful. But through time, I have discovered that I am lucky to look the way I do, and I am lucky to have people appreciate the way I look in my life. What is the point in trying so hard to look like someone you’re not? Why take on the stereotypes? Being different is what has made every person unique, and I have taken that in stride.
I could not be more proud to be a Korean American. I may not be the smartest person in the world, nor the most beautiful, but I know I have made positive impacts on others’ lives and if I were any different, I probably wouldn’t be able to say the same.
As I am working to become a Paralegal in the future and become experienced in the cosmetic field as well, I cannot imagine how my future will be painted out for me. But as long as I continue to have the paint brush in my own hand, I can splatter as many colors on there as I desire and see where that takes me.
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