DAVID YUEN TAM
June 17, 2017
CHINYI CHEN
June 17, 2017

SHANN ORMSBEE

“I am 36 years old and an immigrant through adoption. Brought here at the age of two by my adopted parents from Seoul, South Korea. Like most transracially-adopted children, I was adopted by a Caucasian family and grew up in a predominantly white culture. I have always felt different because on the outside I am Asian, but have no history or connection to my Korean roots. I do not have any sense of an Asian identity.

As I grew up I realized that people would make assumptions about me based on the color of my skin. They would ask if I spoke any Korean or question why my parents didn’t look anything like me. I always felt like I had to make an excuse for my difference. My blanket statement growing up, and now, is “I am Korean, but I was adopted and brought to America at 2, so I don’t know anything about Korean culture.” This began to bother me when I got older and I began to question WHY I didn’t know anything about my heritage. My adopted family brought me into their culture, but didn’t know the proper way to integrate a child split between two-cultures; teaching me about my birth country’s culture would have helped alleviate the disjointed feeling I felt growing up. I do not want to make the same mistake with my children. I plan on teaching them about their Korean heritage and hopefully, take a trip to Korea. To help my children learn more about their ethnic culture, I have become involved in many Asian American organizations and have surrounded my children around people that can help teach them about Asian culture and have role models that are proud of their ethnicity.

A few years ago I started my birth search at Holt International Adoption Agency, but there was not any additional information that I could obtain through the adoption agency beyond the statement in my file ‘found to have been abandoned’. The Adult Adoptee Outreach Coordinator told me that some Adoptees have had success finding their birth families by traveling to their motherland and beginning their search in person.

The goal to ‘go home’ is a yearning that I hope I can one day accomplish. This trip to Korea, my homeland, will be my journey of self-discovery and my lofty goal is to hopefully find my birth family. Even though I know I may not be able to find out anything more about my birth family, I will be able to seek a connection with my heritage and through this effort begin patching the hole that is my missing cultural identity.”

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