New American Media featured a moving story this weekend from Hyphen magazine, which covers the Asian American diaspora. It told the stories of two Korean adoptees who, when deciding to adopt children themselves, turned to the country of their birth.
One woman, Rebecca Eun Hee Viot, and her biological brother grew up in Minnesota with their adoptive white family, disconnected from their ethnic roots. When circumstances prompted Viot and her husband to adopt, they chose Ruby, a 9-month-old from South Korea. From the piece:
Since then, Ruby has brought peace to Viot's life and tightened Viot's bonds to her birth country. “I never took a pride in being Korean," Viot said, though she wasn't necessarily ashamed. “I was often confused and sad because I knew I didn't fit in. I just didn't know who I was.”
Motivated by her daughter, Viot has begun to explore Korean food (she can now cook kaktugi, bulgogi, japchae and kimchi jigae) and the Korean language (she has learned to read Hangul and aspires to speak it with her biological family). She is also interested in learning Korean drumming and dance through the Korean Heritage House, which recently opened in the Twin Cities; Ruby will be enrolled when she turns 4.
“We're learning together,” said Viot, who has founded an Internet forum for parents undergoing the adoption process. I have to stop myself from thinking that just because [Ruby and I] look alike that is enough. I'm still learning about the traditions. I have to do my homework, just like my [friends who are] Caucasian adoptive parents.
Written by a journalist who was herself adopted from Korea, the story cites the results of a 2009 study released by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute titled "Beyond Culture Camp: Promoting Positive Identity Formation in Adoption."
The two women's stories are reminiscent of the story of Emile Mack, a Los Angeles Fire Department official and Korean adoptee recently profiled in KoreAm magazine who was raised by African American parents. Mack recently adopted his own baby girl, also from Korea.