Being Adopted: The Beginning

You think it would be easy to write about my adoption, but to be honest, I don’t even know where to start. I am basically describing my entire life through these next few posts. So, let’s just start with the very beginning: where and when I was born, why I was adopted, and when I came to the United States.

I was born on December 17th, 1998 in Gwangju, South Korea. Now if you are wondering where Gwangju is, it is all the way down south. From Seoul, it is about a three hour train ride.

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I was given a Korean name after I was born. My Korean name is Kim Sun Joo (hehe, the “KSJ” in my domain name stands for this) I don’t normally go by my Korean name, but I have had some people call me by it. I go by my American name, which is Sonya.

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(This is me with my foster mom when I was a few months old. The sign that is in front of me has my Korean name and my adoption case number I believe.)

After I was born, I was put into foster care. I had two foster moms/families before I came to the United States. I had stayed in Gwangju for about a few weeks, and then moved to Seoul. I lived with my foster family in Seoul for about five months. I actually met the foster mom I had in Seoul when I went to South Korea in 2015. She remembered me! I was the first girl she had ever fostered, and it was hard for her to let me go 😦

I came to the United States on May 21st, 1999. In my family, we call this day my “gotcha” or “arrival” day. I was just over five months when I had arrived. I flew into Washington Dulles International Airport, and have lived in Maryland ever since I came.

11816180_10207423694129767_4394784242616396841_o(My foster mom and I meeting for the first time in 16 years)

This day was a very important and special day for my family. After waiting for almost a whole year, my parents were finally getting their daughter and my brother finally became an older sibling. My parents had been trying to adopt for a while now, and unfortunately, the baby they were originally going to adopt had passed away due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Luckily, I was put up for adoption not long after, and now here I am, 18 and a half years later.

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(This was taken right after I was born. I was only 5 and a half pounds!)

Now if you made it this far, you are probably wondering why I was put up for adoption.  Well, if you didn’t know, there is this big taboo in South Korea against unwed women who have children. I’m not sure if this stigma is still as large as it was today, but I would not be surprised if it is.  From what I have been told, your family can dishonor you if you decide to have children and are not married. If you are dishonored from your family, then you are pretty much left raising your child without any support. I have been told that this was the case with my birth mom.

My birth father and mother were not married and they were not planning to be. From the little information I was given, they were intimate with each other, and that was about it. My birth mother had found out that she was pregnant with me during the first trimester, but she did not tell anyone; not even my birth father. She gave birth to me alone, and only after I was born did she tell my birth father.

However, my birth father had claimed that he had a girlfriend at the time and did not want to marry my birth mother. It would have been both socially and financially impossible for my birth mother to raise me alone. My birth mother was a hairdresser at the time (I’m not sure if she still is) but her income would not have been enough to raise me. So, she put me up for adoption, with the hopes of a better life for me.

And that’s how I ended up here, 19 years later 🙂

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(okay, not going to lie, I took this selfie when I was 17 but shhh)

Thanks for reading this post! Keep an eye out for my next one, which will be about my childhood and what it was like growing up as a South Korean adoptee.

-Sonya