Skip to main content

Thoughts from an Adopted Korean-American

My mom and I entered a Mother-Daughter Look-Alike contest just for spite - and we got 11th place (not bad considering there were 10 finalists :)

My mom and I entered a Mother-Daughter Look-Alike contest just for spite - and we got 11th place (not bad considering there were 10 finalists :)

There are a lot of things I've noticed about myself, a Korean-American adoptee, so I'd love to put these thoughts into a Hub that makes a lot of generalizations, but it's how I look at life and it makes me smile :)

I don't fit in! For one, my friends are mostly Caucasian, as my adoptive parents and family are. It's what I know because I'm used to the culture. My bridesmaids were all white. I'm accepted mostly by white people.

I'm too loud for most Asians; I raise my voice and they think I'm trying to pick a fight when I'm really just getting into a story I'm telling. I don't really take off my shoes when I'm inside the house, and that certainly gets me in trouble. I don't know if they're joking or not.

The food is a whole 'nother story. What is durian? What does stinky tofu smell like? How can I tell them that I don't eat meat because I'm a vegetarian? I dare not tell them I'm really pescatarian because most people don't know what that is ("Is that a religion?").

I'm too scared to visit Asia because I feel it's too different from America or Europe. I feel like I would get lost and never figure out how to get back. The languages, the gestures... it's all foreign to me.

On one hand... it's good that I'm not like anyone else. From what I've seen from my experience, and those of other adoptees I know, I feel that I have had a positive experience as an adoptee because I grew up without knowing any other Koreans, or Asians for that matter. In my hometown, my brother and I were the only Asians, and so while we were treated with respect like everyone else, we were also special. I love being different in that way; it was interesting to other people to learn that I was adopted and they wanted to ask me about it, which I enjoyed.

Also, because there were no other Asians in the area, I didn't realize how much of my biological culture and heritage I didn't know and understand. I didn't feel inadequate in that I didn't know anything about being Korean, including the language, cooking, or dancing. I know of other Asian adoptees who grew up in areas where there were people of their ethnicity who enjoyed the fellowship of their friends and family in the customs that they shared. They had an understanding, close ties, that the adoptees didn't have. I didn't realize that I didn't have that until I was older, and by that time I was comfortable enough with myself and my identity was developed enough to the point where it didn't really bother me.

Who's my (birth) mama? I would be lying if I said I didn't want to meet my birth mother. However, it's a different thing to go out and find her - that's too much work for me. I wouldn't say no if she just appeared like some birth mothers do... unless she wanted to be a part of my life.

The only reasons I would want to meet my birth parents would be so I could see what they look like. I've always been fascinated by the fact that most kids look like their parents. What sum did it take to get me as the good-looking combination? (Ha.)

I would also like to see what they think of me. Am I what they thought I would be? Yep, I'm always trying to seek approval.

It seems strange to think that I may never know who my biological parents are, when it is typically such a huge and undeniable part of most people's lives. And yet, it's not something that bothers me. I'm lucky to be happy with my life today, and I won't take that for granted.

Additional Resources


Early on January 10, 2015:

I really col'dnut ask for more from this article.

Leaidan on January 01, 2015:

It's great to read something that's both enjoyable and provides pragamtisdc solutions.

Daryl j. from Converse, TX on December 30, 2012:

This is a very good and interesting hub. As I have also been interested in Asian cultures, it actually makes me wonder how Americans of Asian descent get along here in American.

Skarlet from California on October 21, 2012:

Scroll to Continue

What a nice hub. I am glad you are having a good life and appreciate your own differences without allowing everything to revolve around race.

voted up.

Doodlehead from Northern California on October 13, 2012:

Well, from someone who is not adopted, but who lived with a family for a time who had adopted a girl to be a sister to a natural born brother, I found your perspective really insightful and fun to read.

It is great so many adoptees end up having good lives in families that adopted them.

Hey--guess what...a friend of mine was just adopted at the age of 54. It is a long story, but she lived with the family in high school, but was not adopted then. It is only lately, that this has come about. It has brought them all closer. Nice story.

glassvisage (author) from Northern California on October 11, 2012:

Thank you for your comments! auni, one day I'll get to Asia... hopefully soon! :)

aethelthryth from American Southwest on October 11, 2012:

Thank you for encouraging people to be willing to adopt. I think some people who had bad adoptive experiences have talked very loudly about it, which has made other people quietly say, "I would like to adopt a child, but what if they grow up and say such things about me?"

So this article is a strong statement to potential adoptive parents that they really can succeed in making a child feel happy and like they belong to someone.

auni forever on October 11, 2012:

I'm Asian as well but was born and had grew up in North America so I feel a lot of the same things as you do about looking like an Asian but feeling or acting like a Caucasian. I don't know if you enjoy traveling or not, but if you do, I don't think you should be afraid to go to Asia! It's a most fascinating place to visit, especially if you are unaccustomed to the culture and even if you don't know the language. It's kind of fun to look like a local but act like a foreigner...

RTalloni on August 27, 2012:

Congrats on winning! :) Thanks for sharing your interesting story with honesty. How pleased your parents must be to see you grown up and able to write about your life with such freedom and straightforwardness!

Pastor Dr Carlotta Boles from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC on August 25, 2012:

lol, lol, lol, I am a RADICAL PASTOR, lol, lol. I agree with jpcmc though. One thing I do know, your BEAUTIFUL in God's eyes and that's all that matters! I think your very pretty, God Bless you. When you get some time, come visit. Voted-Up!

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on August 23, 2012:

We're all special regardless of our looks or our nationality. What matters most is that you're enjoying your life.

For the record I like Durian. Have you tried durian ice cream or coffee. Yes, they still stink. But that's subjective.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on August 22, 2012:

You're such a sweet, positive, cheery soul and I like your writing style. Cheers to you and your mom. Hope all goes well for you, always. Thanks for sharing.

greeneryday from Some tropical country on August 14, 2012:

Very interesting story and unique, I think it just does not really matter how other people think of you. In the end what more important is how you feel about yourselves, who you are now, and how your adopted parent and friends love you.

Mae Williams from USA on August 13, 2012:

I am Chinese and my husband is caucasian! I have 2 daughters! One acts and wants to be Asian the other does not identify at all being Asian! They are biological and feel indifferent about Asian. Culture! They have mostly Caucasian friends! Where I live I have no Asian friends but I grew up in a very Asian community! My point is that even mixed b

Virginia Kearney from United States on August 13, 2012:

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I am an adoptive mom of two Chinese daughters and I always wonder what it feels like to be on your end. My kids know lots of other Asians and other adopted kids and we are going to China next summer, so I think China will not be strange to them. However, I teach at a University where there are a number of Korean students. Two students I had grew up with Korean parents, but in otherwise completely Caucasian communities. They told a story very much like yours. They didn't know how to react to other Koreans. They didn't want to join Korean club, or "be" Korean, whatever that means. I do think family and culture win out.

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on August 12, 2012:

I enjoyed reading your story and I think today we are all so diverse it does not matter where we come from. I am very mixed, and do not identify with anything actually. I am just me, and happy for that at last.

Related Articles