Brian Nieken, 32, has known who is biological Korean father is for half his lifetime – they first reunited in Korea when he was only 16. Nieken says the trip forever changed him and how he saw himself. But as the years went by, he realized important questions remained unanswered. He talks about that disappointment and of coming to terms with tough details that led to his adoption.
Korean adoptee Matt Blesse, 31, is an American who moved back to Korea six years ago. A poet who now spends a great deal of time in kitchens in Seoul, the Californian chef-in-training got cerebral and talked with us about his ideas on adoptee identity and authenticity. We caught up with him on the island of Jeju.
Theme: AJ Paschka
Alex Fitch: “Along the Highway,” Needle Drop Company.
Ari De Niro: “Put the Hammer Down,” “Questing,” Needle Drop Company.
Adam Kohlhaas, 30, talks about his experience living in Seoul for the past five years and of reuniting with his biological parents. For Kohlhaas, reconnecting didn’t translate to an emotional bond or match the many tearful reunion documentaries he had watched to prepare himself for this life event.
Thank you for listening to ADAPTED. Originally funded by a Fulbright grant (2016-7), Adapted will continue on in some form yet to be determined.
Robert Ogburn, 57, is a Korean-American adoptee who has returned to the country he was born in — as a diplomat. Raised an only child, Ogburn’s story includes an unexpected adoption twist and insights on how Korea and its perception about adoptees has changed over the years. And like so many other adoptees, Ogburn talks about a quest to know more about his past, and of the all-too common realities of an elusive paper trail.
Austin Johnson, 28, is a Korean-American adoptee and Seoul resident. He’s been living here with his wife, Janetta, for the past two years. They came to Korea together and ironically it was Janetta who has been his bridge to Korea: cooking authentic Korean food and being an anchor when life back in his native country got tough.
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.