What aspect of your culture do you admire?
What I admire about Korean culture is their endurance and creativity. Even though it is a tiny country, the amount of innovation that has come from the people who have suffered so much so recently, is truly admirable. Of the US culture, I love that it is a country full of so many beautiful minds and perspectives.
What does APIDA heritage mean to you?
APIDA heritage to me is something I have struggled with only within my adult years. As a kid, I never really thought of being Asian as part of my identity, but as an adult, I’m constantly questioned about my identity.
Does this month bring any challenges for you as an adoptee?
As an adoptee, I struggle with being able to fully understand what many of my fellow AIPDA are feeling since I never faced the same types of issues that they might have. Since my family was part of the majority in the country I grew up in, I didn’t have to navigate the same issues as many other immigrant families had to, but as an adult, I’m realizing that personally, I have been faced with so much discrimination and problems due to my physical appearance.
How has your heritage shaped the person you are today?
My heritage was always something I was taught to be proud of. My American family was very careful to make sure they explained as much as they could and helped me understand to the best of their ability. I would say they tried their best, and I am so grateful to that, but I think there was obviously much that I just didn’t even realize was different. I am now very proud and even find beautiful, the shape of our eyes, the sound of the language, the taste of the food, etc, but it was definitely something I had to learn.
How does your culture influence your perception of identity and home?
“My culture” is a term I am still adjusting to. I now have dual citizenship of the country I was born in and the country I was raised in, so it’s hard to say which is my full nationality. It would be simple to just say I’m American, because I had that citizenship for so long and am more comfortable in that language, but most of my adult life has been in the country that I was born in. So I would say I am still being influenced and learning about my identity and what I call “home”.
How has your upbringing influenced notions of identity and home?
My upbringing was very open and honest. My family is Christian and raised me to be very understanding and accepting of anyone and everyone. I really appreciate that they were never close minded and always encouraged us kids to research for ourselves about what we believed in and supported that exploration. Without that support, I could never have gone to the places I’ve been or done the things I’ve done.
How does adoption tie into APIDA Heritage Month?
There are so many of us Asian adoptees that struggle with being between Asian and whatever culture we were raised in, if we were adopted into a different culture than what we were born into. I think it’s important to open the door for understanding amongst us because we do share so much in common, and also give us adoptees the opportunity to learn and understand what was different. So often, I think people just close the door on what they can’t understand or what they think others won’t understand. The world is hurting already, we don’t need to add to it by keeping people out who are needing the support and community.
What message would you give to Asian adoptees who find it difficult to navigate this month?
I would like to tell Asian adoptees that it is okay to struggle and that it is okay to ask questions. We’re all still learning who we are and what our place is in this world. I am what most would consider “adult-enough” of an age to have things figured out, but I can assure you that no matter what country I’ve been to or what age I’ve met, people have lived such different lives and gone down such different paths, there’s no way anyone can predict when you’ll have it “figured out”.