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Human Connections

I’m realizing more and more how we as human beings affect one another.

On my flight home from St. Louis earlier this summer, I was watching the flight attendant give her safety presentation. She was much more stoic and unengaging than on my previous flight. So, I was wondering why that was. I realized it was her lack of eye contact. This small simple act reduced the amount of human connection and made the interaction a lot less engaging. Working on some photo projects this year, I noticed this happens in photography too. If a model isn’t engaging to another human being–through her eye contact and body language, the photograph is dull. Really makes me think about how important human connections are to just about everything.

These scenarios really sum up a lot of what I’ve been learning this past year– that we as human beings are part of the human network. We are all connected–for better or worse. Our actions, our words, our attitudes affect the people around us. Things become so much more meaningful when you are doing them for another person. Life becomes so much more rich when you’re experiencing it with people you love. And each day becomes more fulfilling when you are sharing special moments with special people in your life who care about you. And you can travel the world, but a city is only as good as the people you know in it.

As I continue to cultivate my own identity, I can’t help but stop and think about the people in my life. The people who have shaped me and my life. The family that I was born into. The family who raised me. The people who love me. The people I care about. Friends. Family. All of these relationships have touched me and my life somehow.

Growing up as a Korean adoptee into a Polish-German family, I’ve always felt like I had to forge my own path. Growing up in a non-traditional family definitely fosters individuality and independence. I used to think that it was important to never be “influenced” by people. But now, I can see that no matter what and no matter who we are– the people in our lives influence us. For better or worse. And I think it’s just a matter of deciding how you let the people in your life influence you. And even better– it’s deciding to surround yourself with people who influence you to be more of what you want to be.

Just thinking about life.

xoxo,

rm

Meeting these Incredible HAPAs

I had the most amazing time meeting up with these amazing Korean adoptees at The KAD Diaries photo shoot a few weeks ago! These were a few of the first children adopted from Korea. They identify themselves as HAPAs. They are mixed race, Korean born. HAPAs were conceived during Korea’s US occupation. Many American GI’s had relationships with Korean “camptown women.” The babies conceived out of these relationships were mixed race babies, now known as “HAPAs.”

These babies were often shunned by society because they were mixed race and because they were often conceived out of wedlock. When a Korean woman became pregnant out of wedlock, she was often ostracized and left to fend herself. Without any guarantee of employment or any type of government or social assistance, these women often relinquished their babies to orphanages because they couldn’t support them.

The Holt family was one of the first groups to see the need to care for these babies and began coordinating international adoptions of these mixed race babies to families in the US. And this began international Korean adoption into the US.IMG_20150929_010319

Don Gordon Bell was one of the children on the first plane from Korea carrying these precious children in tow. He was adopted into a family with English-Scottish heritage and raised in Los Angeles, CA. Don, Nancy, Katherine, (pictured above) and I were able to share a meal together with a few other Korean adoptees during the weekend I visited LA for the KAD Diaries photo shoot. It was incredibly meaningful to be able to share stories with others who can relate to being a Korean American adoptee. Each of us have his or her own unique story.

The top featured image was shot by the talented, David Patrick Valera. It captured the moment I shared the video of my birth family reunion with Nancy and Katherine at our meet up. It was a really beautiful moment for all of us.

I’m so happy and grateful to connect with other Korean American adoptees. I’m really thankful for Zeke Anders putting his heart and soul into the art project, The KAD Diaries, and for bringing us all together.

Meeting up with these incredible people makes me feel proud to be a Korean American adoptee. I know I am in the company of some truly amazing people!

If you would like to follow The KAD Diaries photo project, check out the official website: http://thekaddiaries.com or follow the project facebook page!

To learn more about Don’s amazing life story, check out his blog at http://koreanwarbaby.blogspot.com/. I know you’ll be glad you did!

 

Xoxo

rm

The KAD Diaries Photo Art Project

Last weekend I had the amazing privilege of traveling to California and collaborating with Zeke Anders, an LA filmmaker and fellow Korean Adoptee. Last year, Zeke filmed an award-winning vlog series entitled, American Seoul. The YouTube link is available on my Videos tab. This vlog series beautifully opened up a window for viewers to see an inside glimpse of what it was like to be a Korean American adoptee. Venice Arts

This year, Zeke is creating a photo art project to share the stories of Korean American adoptees around the US through portraits shot in the Venice Arts studio in Venice, CA. Adoptees traveled to the studio from all over the nation to participate in this meaningful project.

Each adoptee had the opportunity to choose to stand in front of the American flag, the Korean flag, or in the middle of the two. After our portraits were taken, we participated in a video interview to share some of our thoughts on the topic of adoption. on set KAD Diaries

It was really meaningful to be able to participate in a project like this to share my experiences as a Korean adoptee and to hear other adoptees’ stories. Growing up, I was the only Korean girl in my circle of friends. I was one of two Korean girls in my school. I was the only Korean adoptee that I knew. Now, I know a ton of other Korean adoptees, aka KADs, who can relate to my experiences! It’s been really neat connecting with other KADs. Each of us has a really unique and powerful story. It’s definitely a special community for me.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was getting to meet Zeke Anders, award-winning filmmaker and all-around great guy! I love meeting artists who are passionate about their work and who love telling stories in a beautiful way. I love how this portrait series adds beauty to the idea of being adopted when adoption is often attached to a negative stigma. The details surrounding being adopted is something we, as adoptees, typically grow up not enjoying sharing. In contrast, this project gives each of us a selfie with zekecreative, artistic outlet where we can express our stories freely while simultaneously adding beauty to the painful and challenging moments we experienced as adoptees.

While in LA, I spent a lot of time in Koreatown! So neat to go to different restaurants where the signage and menus are printed in Hangul (Korean) as well as in English! I visited the Line Hotel, which was really fun and exciting. Friday night beats and an energetic crowd with the largest number of stunningly beautiful Koreans I had ever seen in one place. The crowd was 99% Asian.

wi spaI also visited Wi Spa, a traditional Korean spa.  Patrons relax there for hours– or even overnight! There were different saunas on a co-ed floor and a gender-specific floor. The co-ed floor housed saunas lined with various purification elements like salt, jade, and clay where you can relax and allow the heat and elements to detoxify you. The all-female floor had a steam sauna, hot whirlpool tub, cold whirlpool tub, and places for massage and other spa services. This was a really great experience– and just like the spas in the Korean dramas! santa monica studio

The KAD Diaries meet up and my time in Koreatown was really neat because I didn’t feel like I was in the minority at all. For the first time on such a large scale as this, I just felt like being Korean was the norm. And sometimes that’s a great feeling. During my trip, I was able to sneak away to do some aerial training at a great studio in Santa Monica where I flew on some hot pink silks. I also had the amazing opportunity of training with a stunt coordinator at Hollywood Aerial Arts doing 2-point wire work. While harnessed in, the trainer hooked me up to a stand where I could practice flipping forward and backward in the harness and flying on my stomach and back using my core muscles! Then, he took me up on a mechanical lift up to the rafters, 25 feet in the air! I was able to run and jump 10ft in the air with the push of a button. Such a fun experience. Definitely a neat change from my super strength-reliant aerial silk work.

Venice BeachEven though my trip was jam-packed with high energy meet ups, photo shoots, and fabulous LA nightlife, I was able to sneak in some chill downtime at the magical Venice Beach drum circle and to relax poolside. Definitely a fabulous, memorable trip! I love LA! It was so great to experience the best the city has to offer with newfound friends and fellow Korean adoptees!

 

 

Featured image (top) courtesy of Don Gordon Bell

Being Adopted was a Recipe for Success

Even though many people viewed growing up as an adoptee with a negative stigma, I always viewed it as a blessing. My life as a Korean adoptee was a gourmet cocktail, combining different cultural and family experiences, finely crafted with the deepest of care to create the life experiences I was meant to have. I always knew that in a deep sense. I couldn’t imagine being raised in a traditional family. Even in my own adoptive family or biological family, I knew that my experiences would have been so much different if I had a traditional upbringing in either family– without being adopted. As a Korean adoptee, I was exposed to two different families and two different cultures. I was exposed to Two Adventurerstwo different parenting styles, family traditions, and belief systems. I had the opportunity to pick and choose the good qualities I wanted from each of them. Having two families also meant that I had two sets of family drama. That was difficult at different moments, but it still made the patchwork quilt of my life. And it made me a stronger person.

My adoptive mother’s core personality and my core personality couldn’t have been any further polar opposite of one another. But I always really valued how my adoptive mom balanced me. She was super mellow, easy going, and indecisive. The complete opposite of my super energetic, fast-moving and extremely passionate personality. Balance is good. Especially because I tend to be a little bit of a workaholic. Growing up I always appreciated her laid back spirit. With my hyper overachiever extremely dedicated personality tendencies, I counted it as a blessing to have a mother who showed me unconditional love, support and acceptance rather than to be raised by someone who was driven to the point of being critical, judgmental, and hard on me. I think being raised by someone with that type of personality could’ve easily set me over the edge since I was already so hard on myself, even as a child. This easily could’ve been the case in a biologically-related family setting where I would have been raised by people with the same intense personality traits as my own.

Knowing that my birth mother committed suicide, I wondered if that was something that she struggled with too– feeling as driven as I did, but without an emotional outlet or an unconditionally loving family. Which eventually could’ve easily led to too much pressure for one person to handle. Ever since I found out the tragic way in which my birth mother died, I always counted that as confirmation that being adopted into this family was a gift– from God, maybe even somehow orchestrated by my biological mother beyond the grave, to give me a fighting chance at leading a successful and happy life free from the pressures that she endured and which may have inadvertently led to her untimely demise.

I always knew that my adoptive mom showing me unconditional love was the single most important thing to shape me into the girl I am today. And this was something I always guessed my biological family was incapable of based on the story I was told about how my birth mother was cut off from her family, and the way that I was estranged. The unconditional love and acceptance that I received from my adoptive family was a powerfully driving force in my life and is something I will always be grateful for.

xoxo

happy tuesday!

 

Robbed, Destitute—But Coming Back Swinging!

Had a really tumultuous weekend in my hometown. Was in town helping a friend of mine with a photo shoot for a fashion spread in a national girl’s magazine he shoots for. We were shooting two models against the backdrop of an old abandoned fort in Baltimore County just past Miller’s Island. The shoot was grueling with mishaps happening at every turn. We were working hard all day to make sure the shots were incredible. Thankfully in spite of all of the issues that arose, the shots we captured were amazing—truly stunning.

Sometime within the course of the photo shoot, someone shattered the passenger window of my friend’s car to steal some of my most prized possessions: my wedding rings, my favorite Kate Spade weekender bag, my designer handbag given to me by my mother for my birthday, make up and clothes that I curated with care, my glasses carefully selected and fitted by a boutique over multiple trips to NYC, and my treasured special edition iPod. The thieves also used my credit cards to charge over $500 worth of gas and merchandise as well as taking the cash and checks in my purse, my phone charger, and my car keys.write pic

In spite of being robbed of over $7K worth of some of the most expensive of my most prized possessions, I was most heartbroken over losing the journal that was tucked inside my Kate Spade bag. I was writing in this lovely space over the past year. A small pink notebook with beautiful gold lettering on the front with the words, “Write” inscribed on the front. This tiny token probably only cost $15. But to me, it was a priceless item that cannot fully be replaced. I’ve had so much personal growth over the past year and each milestone was documented within the pages of my little pink journal. I was also in the process of writing a series of children’s books—and had just completed a concept web outlining the backbones of each book in the series of 7-10 books that fit the theme. These inspired ideas came at a stroke of genius moment just one week ago while late-night writing at one of my favorite coffee houses after a long day. It was one of those monumental moments where the ideas were flowing, and I felt so energized to get the project going that I began making plans to collaborate with illustrators and publishers to get these inspired ideas out there. My journal also had pages of sketches for clothes I recently designed during other moments of inspiration. I was working toward creating them for events this year. I also had painstaking notes on trip details and options for traveling to a few destinations to celebrate my milestone birthday this fall, which took mad time and energy to research and plan. All of which I enjoyed and loved doing at the time—so for me, this journal was a patchwork quilt of pieces of my life that I loved. It documented these moments of insight as they happened. And it contained exciting plans for the future.

The county police officer was invested in trying to help me regain what I lost and to identify the suspects. After the shoot, my friend and I went back to his place to determine a plan of action. Thankfully the hair/make-up venue used their shop-vac to clean out the chards of glass scattered around the passenger side before we drove home. They were able to clean about 90% of the glass. The drive was pretty crazy as some of the residual small chards of glass still crackled in the side of the door as we went over bumps or made sharp turns. Each time the car accelerated, both of us kept forgetting that he no longer had a window and instinctively pushed the window button to try to shield ourselves from the wind. Upon each attempt, we both cringed hearing more grass cracking in the slit where there should have been the smooth caressing sound of an intact window closing. Thankfully, we made it to his house without any more mishaps. I decided to go out to unwind and connect with other people. I decided to drive back to my mom’s house to shower and change since I was super muddy from the shoot. That’s when I realized those tools stole my damn car keys, so I was stranded with nothing but the clothes on my back without access to my car or cash. Nothing I could do about accessing the car that night. Everything was closed. car window

I was super dirty from shooting outside at an abandoned fort all day. So, I showered and washed the clothes I was wearing. As I stood in the shower washing the last of my make up off, I felt pretty stripped of everything I held dear. Without any cash or cards to replace any of the items that were stolen—I felt pretty destitute. Sounds pretty dramatic, but it’s truly how I felt. Grr, I was going to have to go out on a Friday night without any makeup on.

I decided to still go out despite that I felt naked and destitute without any of my usual things. And I met up with some really great people. So weird to have nothing but the clothes on my back that night. No money, no credit cards, no car, no purse, no makeup, no dress clothes, no favorite shoes, no phone. But I had friends. And that was nice.

So crazy but this moment of destitution actually sparked some painful memories of the feeling of abandonment and destitution related to being abandoned as a little baby when my birth father gave me up for adoption. It was painful to make the connection as I stood there in the shower and reflected on how destitute I was when I was left as a little baby to fend for herself with nothing but the clothes on her back and a small box of toys. I realized that since I was able to bounce back from that, I was sure I could bounce back from this.

I’ve learned so much from this experience. May sound cliché, but these moments really did remind me of what was important. Do I need to have the best make up, the finest clothes, the biggest engagement ring? No. Do I really even need more than a little food and water? Not right now.

The night I was robbed, my husband was able to work with my friend and I over the phone to help me devise a plan of how to get a new set of car keys. And the next day my friend Sean and my mom spent the time to help me get my car towed and get a replacement set of keys programmed at the dealership. I am so grateful for their TLC. I couldn’t have done it without them. Being completely purseless, my mom spotted me money for food, the tow, and the new car key. All of these kind gestures made me really think of how truly grateful I am to have such wonderfully loving people in my life who care about me. If I didn’t have them around, I truly would have been in a pickle. I am so appreciative for all of the people in my life who I know I can truly trust and count on in moments of need, namely my mom, my husband, and my friends.

I think that holds true for my adoption story too. While I was left with nothing material apart from the clothes on my back, I was placed into the loving care of my adoptive mother. She was always a huge source of love and support, and without her I would be truly lost! I am convinced that it was her unconditional love for me that gave me the confidence I have in myself to be the strong woman who I am today. I don’t let her know how much she means to me as much as I should.

Losing such precious things reminded me of how fleeting things are, and how important it is to savor and enjoy the things you love in your life—because nothing lasts forever. This past year I invested a lot in myself. The things that were stolen were so painful to lose because I loved them so much. Makes it easy to think it may be better not to care about anything at all. But at the same time, I think it’s better to love something for a while to then lose it than to never put yourself out there to love anything at all.

After traumatic things happen like this, it’s a knee-jerk reaction to question whether or not I should’ve done something differently. Should I have traveled to Baltimore, gone on the photo shoot, left my bags in the car, or the list goes on. But I think that when you put yourself out there and take risks and do amazing things, some bad things are bound to happen in the process, and that’s just life. I would much rather live a huge life and have things happen than to stay reclusive and lead a small life where nothing really happens at all.

I can rewrite the ideas in a new journal. After all, the journal itself is only a written expression of thoughts that I myself created—and thank God, I am still here. So, I can create something new. Conceiving the ideas are the hardest part of writing. Once the idea is conceived, it’s fairly easy to rewrite –especially for something as memorable as an idea conceived during a stroke of insight. And I can buy more beautiful clothes and handbags. There is a silver lining in everything. I am allowing myself the space to be mellow, chill, and sad for a time, because this experienced sucked!!! But after that, I am going to use this angry passion for the things I lost to fuel a flame to recapture everything that I lost and held dear or to reinvent them in a fresh new way.

This loss was a personal attack trying to keep my spirit down. But it’s done the opposite. This loss actually fanned a flame for the things that I’m really passionate about. It’s pissed me off. But in a good way. I feel so incredibly fired up that I feel even more energized to fight even harder to move forward with the things that I planned in my journal. I feel so incredibly stoked to write that I can’t even stand it. I am going to redesign the garments I sketched and create them to love and show off and cherish. I am going to recount and rewrite every detail of every memory from my previous journal that I still want documented in a beautiful new journal, or incorporate them into a book I am working on—which was even better. I am going to pick out gorgeous new clothes, and who doesn’t love that?? I am going to buy new makeup that I love. And I am going to use this as an opportunity to redesign new rings to fit the personality and style that I want to convey in a fresh way, rather than to try to duplicate my previous wedding rings. I have a few jewelry designers in mind, so will be a fun new endeavor that I am excited about. This is a fresh start.

I am not the type to just take things lying down. This terrible thing knocked me down, but I’m gonna come back up swinging. For a while now, I’ve been burning to do a long distance race. Don’t know what it was, but I felt an immense desire to run over the past couple months. And this trying experience tipped the scale and inspired me to commit to training for one. I don’t know what it is about pushing yourself physically that makes you somehow stronger and your enemies weaker… but it does. And I’m ready for that.

I’m not going to let these criminals ruin the things that I love and the things I cherish in my life! I’ve got too much going for all of the things I’ve set out to do!

Just thinkin’ out loud. Hope these thoughts hit you right.

Sending my love, prayers, and positivity out to you! Send ‘em back to me, please! I’m gonna need them this week. < XoXo

 

Korean Adoptee Meet up in St. Louis

Within the past year, I joined a couple of Korean adoptee Facebook groups and met the most amazing adoptees from all over the US. It was in one of these groups, that I met April—a really lovely soul. This beautiful girl was abandoned in a marketplace in Korea when she was 5 years old. She still remembers her grandmother releasing her hand for the final time. She can still taste the salt of her tears and feel the grit of the dirt and her hair as the wind blew these across her mouth. April still flashes back to this moment when she hears her own beautiful little daughter cry for her. Such a profound moment in her life. Definitely something that has been a part of her past. But, April has not let the hardships she’s faced define her. She is stronger for her experiences. But she doesn’t dwell on them. She is one of the most incredibly loving, open, funny people I’ve ever met. She is married and has two beautiful children. Her family lives in St. Louis.

Last year, April began opening her home for Korean adoptees to meet up from all over the US. I had the most incredible time meeting up with the best girls and guys last weekend at April’s house. All of whom were Korean adoptees, like me! There were a bunch of Korean adoptees from St. Louis and the midwest, including Michigan and Ohio. A few from Texas, and my friend Gina from LA. It was so much fun to share similar stories of growing up in white families in white neighborhoods and to hear all of their European last names. I told everyone how I recently jokingly told someone she could call me, “Hey you!” and the woman thought I was telling her my Korean name: “Hei Yu.” Others had similar funny stories.

Some girls reunited with their birth families already. Many discovered their entire back stories were wrong. This can definitely shake a person to the core and is something that many adoptees can relate to. One girl reunited with her birth family and decided to spend a couple of years in Korea to get to know more about her Korean heritage. Another girl just started the process of searching for her birth family, so she’s really nervous about how everything will pan out. A few people shared that they never had a strong desire to reunite with their birth families, and they are okay with that.

We went out to a Korean karaoke bar and laughed when only two out of twenty of us knew enough Korean to work the controls. Thankfully, we were all okay singing out to English songs. There was kimchi. There was soju. There were beautiful Asian features. We were as Korean as it gets for Korean adoptees.

april, gina, me

I brought two pairs of shoes with me that I’ve been trying to give away for the past 6 months. They were two sets of gorgeous pumps –one metallic chrome and one bright turquoise. I haven’t had any takers because no one can fit into these gorgeous heels—my feet are very small. I even posted them on an online Facebook yard sale in my area with no luck. I brought them to this gorgeous group, knowing most of my Korean girlfriends would have similar frames. When I brought my shoes out, I immediately found new owners for these bombing shoes. So funny how such little things can make such a difference in normalizing my own petite features.

This meet up was so incredibly meaningful to me in my own personal journey. It’s amazing to think that I’m in such great company in my own personal experiences. So nice to feel the camaraderie and warmth of other Korean adoptees.

It’s amazing to me that in our shared experiences we all had an instant bond. I love getting to know new people and sharing stories. It definitely creates a special community where one can really feel that she belongs. One of my newfound friends described our meet up well by saying, “I have a tribe, a place to belong. It’s something you can’t really explain in words… it’s an experience. One I truly treasure.”

 

#mytribe #adoptees #koreanadoptees #stlouis

The Moment I Lost my Bio Family

In reconnecting with my bio family last May, I had to process a lot of intense realities. One was the idea that at one point–one epic moment in time, when I was literally in physical transition from the hands of my bio family to the arms of my adoptive family, there was a transitional moment where I was utterly and completely alone. A single little baby– without a family, without a home, armed with only the clothes on my back. At this solitary moment, I was an orphan. Somewhat destitute and on my own. This cosmic moment in time is something that all adoptees share. It’s not something I ever dwelled on. And yes–one could actually say that at that transitional moment, I actually had two families, so double the love and all that. Which was also absolutely true. But on the other hand, quite literally at that transfer moment, I was at square one. Alone. Helpless and penniless with only the clothes on my back to call my own. It was like counting along the number line used in school to illustrate transitioning from the negative integers to the positive ones– there was always that point of transition at zero that indicated the neutrality between this major shift. At that moment, I was at zero, as my prior life was ending, and my new life was beginning.

For me, this moment happened when I was dropped off at the foster care lady’s house. And figuratively, in the lawyer’s office when my bio dad signed the paperwork to hand over guardianship to my adoptive family. I’ve never really thought about this monumental moment until this past year. It’s definitely a defining moment in each adoptee’s life. There were the psychological and emotional ramifications of being utterly alone. But even more than that, I have been really thinking about the open realm of possibilities that my life could’ve taken in that singular moment in time. What if I was raised by a different family than my adoptive family? Would I be the same person? Choose the same career? Marry the same guy? My head has been spinning over the past year with all of these questions. Reuniting with my birth family prompted me to ask myself these really challenging questions. I did a lot of soul searching. I came to a lot of conclusions so far.

I do believe that most things happen for reasons. Maybe not all, but most things. In these monumental moments, our lives shift and take unexpected turns. But, ultimately no matter who we are in life– adopted or not, we all must learn the responsibility that lies in being who we were meant to be as individuals regardless of who our families are. We must choose the life we want to live for ourselves regardless of whether or not we are alone or surrounded by the biggest family on the planet. The events and people in our lives certainly shape us, but they most definitely do not define who we are. We are so much more than the stuff that’s happened to us. And we are definitely so much more than what the people around us make us out to be. Whether we are adopted or not, we all must go through the same process of learning who we are for ourselves and by ourselves. We are each individual people who must live out who we were meant to be in the world regardless of others, and at times, even in spite of others. So, in essence adoptees get a jump start on that road to self discovery as an individual, starting as little babies.

Growing up as adoptees, we are never given the luxury of the notion that “this is how you should be, because you take after so and so” or “that just runs in our family.” So, growing up we are constantly learning who we are, on our own! This can be a daunting process, but it’s not impossible. Ultimately, no matter who your family is, or who you are surrounded by– every individual has his or her own free will.

I can remember moments in my life where I had to take a stand and be the person who I was meant to be, even if that meant not doing exactly what I was told. One moment that stands out in my life was when I was a senior in high school. In my adoptive family, my mother desperately wanted me to go into the medical field. Most of my adoptive family thought I should become a nurse, because after all, that is what all of my female cousins did. Many adult family friends told me I should become a doctor. I entertained these ideas, and entered college as a pre-med student. Since I wasn’t complete sold on the idea of becoming a doctor, I simultaneously completed a volunteer experience during my first semester of college at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center where I was able to obtain real life exposure to patient care. The program was called “Patient Partners.” Basically, I went into patient rooms, armed with a survey asking patients how their stay was at the hospital. Easy enough. I went into the volunteer program with hopes that I could gain an idea of what it would be like to be a nurse or a doctor. I lasted one day. The experience served its purpose, and I was a fast learner! In that brief experience, I learned a really quick, valuable lesson: I was not meant to be a nurse or a doctor, regardless of what my family wanted. And this volunteer program was an experience that I sought out myself. I had done well. Lesson learned– able to move on.

One thing I realized through that volunteer experience was that in a career as a doctor, I felt that I would more quickly stick a needle in someone than actually talk with them. For me, this objectified and dehumanized the whole experience of wanting to go into a career where I could make a difference people’s lives. Later on, through probing out different careers I landed on the idea of a speech language pathologist. I could still use the medical and scientific knowledge to work with clients to regain parts of themselves lost after injury or illness. But, I could actually spend time working on regaining some of the skills that are unique to the human experience– eating and speaking. An ER doctor could spend 30 minutes pumping on a patient’s chest and ultimately bring her back from the brink of death. This is an extraordinarily commendable feat. But, sometimes, these patients are shells of the people they once were. And that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to work with patients on the things that make life worth living– connecting with others and enjoying some of life’s simple pleasures– like eating a piece of decadent chocolate cake or sharing stories. I’ve been practicing medical speech therapy for seven years now and absolutely love the work that I do with patients. This was definitely the right career choice for me. I am really passionate about my work, and I take a lot of pride in what I do. I really love seeing my clients make gains to be able to eat and speak again.

These are the types of invaluable lessons that every single individual on the planet must learn! Being an adoptee sometimes muddies the water a little bit, and can make learning these lessons of self discovery a little complicated. But I want to encourage every adoptee that it’s not impossible. You can do it! It takes hard work, determination, and a lot of exploring. But through and through, by and by, you will learn more about yourself, the world, and where you fit in. It’s a lifelong process– not only for adoptees, but for all humans. And no one ever feels like he or she has fully arrived at total self-discovery. But the beauty is that you get to decide who you are and how you want to design your life. And if you don’t like something about the way your life is headed, you can redesign. It’s magical, really.

Good luck! I’m rooting for you!

xoxo

rm