I got to talk to my language partner Daniel and his wife Chloe today. It had been a long time since I have been able to meet them over Skype. It was good to hear their voices. Our language skills have regressed over our lack of meetings and practice. ㅠㅠ
Chloe and Daniel are expecting their first child by November 22. I am so excited for them! They will be fantastic parents. During our conversation, I had remembered something Daniel told me about the post-natal care for the mother and the baby in Korea. It’s quite different than the United States.
In the US, a mother has the baby at a hospital. The next day, the baby goes through tests to make sure he is healthy. By the third day, a mother and baby can be discharged and sent home.
I have a sixth sense when it comes to spotting Asians in the room. It’s really not that hard since we make up less than 1% of the population in my area. Even so, I still consider it a super power.
One night at my favorite bar, my Spidey Senses started tingling. In the corner was a group of scantily-clad Asian women hanging on a group of college boys. I thought it was a strange sight since the bar I frequent is pretty classy. It’s not unusual for college women to drink there, but it is odd for them to be dressed up in that much glitz.
“Nasty” (noun): a fan of the blog, Eat Your Kimchi
One of my all-time favorite blogs was Eat Your Kimchi. A married couple from Canada moved to Korea to teach English. They started their blog as a way to show their family and friends back home that Korea wasn’t some destitute Third World Country and to chronicle their adventures. Months later they discovered that they had viewers and not just the ones back at home. They started to branch out, featuring KPop and making jabs at the music videos through skits and satire.
I owe a lot to Eat Your Kimchi. It was through their weekly installments of KPop Music Monday that I was able to fall in love with KPop, then fall in love with Korea, and ultimately embrace who I am being an American in a Korean body. However, I have noticed a drastic change in their structure over the years. When I started watching them, they prepared skits and I was genuinely able to laugh out loud. Each week, I had something to look forward to. No matter how crappy my weekend was or how sucky Mondays are, I knew I would have a good music video and a good hard laugh in KPop Music Monday.
The town I grew up in has a population of about 2,000. It’s filled with people who’s parents grew up here who’s parents grew up here. My great-grandparents have a road named after them since that is where they built their home. If I were to walk in to the local mom and pop restaurant and mention my grandpa’s name, half the patrons would know who he was and everything about him. It’s safe to say that everybody knows everybody in this town.
When it comes to diversity, well, there’s really no such thing. We have a few African Americans and a couple Asians in the area, but we are really few and far between. That’s where “The Small Town Asian Game” comes in. Whenever two Asians see each other in a small town, we instantly know something about each other without exchanging a word: Are you from a small town, too?
Here’s how the game is played.
1) Be Asian.
2) Spot another Asian in your small town that you’ve never seen before.
3) Stare down said Asian until you make eye contact. You may permit yourself to do a once-over if you are crossing paths.
4a) If other Asian does not make eye contact, then he is not from a small town.
4b) If other Asian stares you down equally and sizes you up as if to say, “I don’t know you. Where did you come from?” then he is a member of the small-town-and-Asian ranks.
While this may seem a bit silly to someone who is not in the >1% minority, it is a very real thing. Even when we have close friends and family, it is sometimes difficult connect to that level of belonging. No, they don’t treat us differently or leave us out. It’s just that the people who are closest to us forget that we look Asian, but the rest of the community doesn’t. Seeing another person who “looks like me” is a rare treat and reminds me that I’m not alone. It’s in that brief moment when our eyes meet that I feel a deeper sense of belonging.
Step One: Read “How to Request Adoption Records”
Complete Steps 1-3.
Step Two: Write a Letter to Birth Family
Include basic information about yourself and family, why you are searching, what you are doing now, what activities you enjoy, etc.
Step Three: Find Pictures of Yourself
I personally skipped this step, but you can feel free to send old or new pictures of yourself.
Step Four: Send an Email
Attach all documents and send an email to email@example.com. Hotmail? Yes… Hotmail. I bet ya didn’t even know that people still had Hotmail much less an international organization. I was skeptical, too, but it’s legit. Make sure to put “Post Adoption Services” in the subject line and give a brief introduction in the email body.
*This picture is actually of KSS (Korea Social Services), another adoption agency. For some reason, I thought to take a picture of this agency and not one of my own.
When I finally decided that I wanted to open a search for my birth family, I wasn’t sure where to start. I knew I was adopted from Holt in Korea and Bethany Christian Services in the USA. I decided to start with BCS.
April 7, 2014
I went to the BCS website and filled out their contact form for what they call “Post Adoption Support.” I received an email that said I would get personal contact from Bethany within two business days.
April 14, 2014
I haven’t heard from anyone. I called 1-800-BETHANY and was told that the person who handles international adoptions only came in on Wednesdays and that I should expect a call from “Josh” on the 16th.
My first step to opening a birth family search was to request my adoption records. My parents had some paperwork in a filing cabinet in the house, but I always found misplaced papers between files. I wanted to be sure I had everything. Requesting my file was fairly easy after I found the right contact. You can read more about my experience later. But for now, let’s focus on how to get your adoption files in hand.
Step One: Make Sure You were Adopted from Holt Children’s Services
Holt Children’s Services is a different agency than Holt International Children’s Services. If you know you are from a Holt agency but are unsure which one, you can always contact both.
Step Two: Fill Out Paperwork
– Petition for Adoption Information Disclosure
– Holt Request Form
Fill out as much as you can.
Step Three: Scan the Information Page of Your Passport
It’s the colorful page with your picture on it. If you do not have a U.S. Passport, you can read my step-by-step guide to getting one.
Step Four: Send an Email
Attach all three documents and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Hotmail? Yes… Hotmail. I bet ya didn’t even know that people still had Hotmail much less an international organization. I was skeptical, too, but it’s legit. Make sure to put “Post Adoption Services” in the subject line and give a brief introduction in the email body.
Step Five: Wait for a Response
I know it’s hard. But remember, Korea is 12-13 hours ahead of us so you may get a response in the middle of the night.
That’s it. Pretty easy, right? For more information about Holt Children’s Services of Korea you can go to their website.
If you’re interested in going a step farther, you can open a birth family search.