Not every adoption story is the same. Some adoptees struggle within their adoptive families out of neglect, lack of love or a sense of belonging. Adoptees who return to Korea to live often face other issues too: of confronting their relinquishment and feelings of loss. Korean-American adoptee Laura Wachs, 28, shares her story, and of how her love of spoken word poetry has helped her find her voice and create a family she can call her own.
Rachel Smith, 23, lives in Cheongju, Korea. She’s spending two years teaching English on the Fulbright program. Smith talks to us about growing up in Kentucky, what got her interested in coming back to Korea, searching for her Korean mother and how all of this has helped her firmly grasp who she is.
Richard Peterson, 31, reflects on moving back to Korea nearly nine years ago, armed with both advanced Korean language skills and a solid knowledge base of Korean history. But instead of looking back, Richard reflects on his opportunities in Korea today and of building a life on his terms.
Richard Peterson is at home with his wife Emily and their dog Rudy in Seoul.
Julien Brulé, 31, is a Korean adoptee from France. Last year, he quit his job and his life in western France to come to Korea to meet his biological mother. Then he took the unusual step to move in with her, despite a language and cultural gulf. For more than half a year, he’s been learning more about her and himself as they attempt to write a new story together.
[In FRENCH, with ENGLISH introduction]
Korean adoptee Leo Chung, 44, was raised in The Netherlands but now makes his origin country his home. Chung talks about his experience in the Dutch military and of developing an interest in Korea from an early age, especially its martial arts. That, and a reunion with his birth family at the age of 20, motivated him to make repeated trips back over his life. But while his reunion with this biological family has far from a storybook ending, Chung has come to embrace his Korean identity on his own terms, including becoming a dual citizen.
Cara Kim Mooney, 23, is a Korean-American adoptee who grew up in upstate New York. She was adopted from Korea at the age of six months, and returned to her country of birth two years ago as an English Teaching Assistant on the Fulbright Program. Mooney wanted to come back to Korea to get in touch with her roots, after a childhood filled with memories of international travel and family support. As an adult, she’s grown to love Korea, and accept it too.
Julianna Gonska, 24, returned to South Korea a few months ago to take part in a Korean government scholarship program for foreign students. For Gonska, a Korean-American adoptee who hasn’t lived in Korea since she was five months old, the tuition-free program represented a great opportunity to get in touch with her Korean heritage and engage in intensive language study. But as you’ll hear, Gonska faced problems proving her U.S. citizenship to Korean officials even before she got on the plane. Her struggle has highlighted a loophole that Korean-born adoptees can face upon their return, even people whose U.S. citizenship was conferred automatically by law.