Blue Bayou

Justin Chon always seems to know how to punch me deep in the gut.
The first film of his I saw, about Korean youth from around the world. Korea had feared they were losing touch with their heritage and so hosted a camp in Korea for them. While being an almost version of Breakfast Club with an all Korean cast, it also featured a girl who had been adopted. Ironically, she finds out her Korean name and it is the same as mine. I resonated with her character pretty strongly.
The next film of his I saw, Gook, about a Korean just trying to survive in L.A. during the 92′ L.A. Riots. In which Koreans were huge victims.
This film, about a young man who was adopted at the age of 3, suddenly attracts the attention of the local police, and then I.C.E. and it is found out his naturalization was botched and he faces deportation. A story most people probably remember from right after Trump became president. And sadly, not an uncommon story, just one that is never told. And to be honest, something I had a lot of fear about after he became president. Even though I had complete faith my parents did everything right, I.C.E. was looking for loopholes just to kick people out. And while this character’s story was kind of unique, this film is an example of how terrifying it is for people of colour living in America. It is also a powerful example of how much trauma is involved in someone who has been adopted. And how difficult it is for them to talk about.
And honestly, this film painted a picture of a lot of things I had felt and not known how to put words to.

IKAA

In 2015 the documentary Twinsters came out. About two Korean girls adopted to separate families, and by random chance found eachother via the internet. The chances and specific elements that caused them to find eachother, in two completely different countries, were so slim and a bit, almost fantastical. But it’s the fantastical that makes the movie so moving and heartwarming. One grew up in California and the other in France. And it’s a perfect showing of how one develops by both Nature AND Nurture.

Quite frankly, I am a fan of all adoption stories. (I even find adoption stories in the most unlikely places. My favorite examples are Superman, and Mowgli, of The Jungle Book.) But what stuck with me the most about this movie was towards the end, when they finally went back to Korea together to attend a triennial conference bringing together Korean Adoptees. As I have always sort of grappled with my own adoption, more so for some reason since turning 30, this struck me as possibly the perfect way to move forward and explore that side of my life.

This past Christmas my family decided to up and do something completely different for us. We decided to spend it in Palm Springs, California. Which ended up having it’s challenges and its rewards. But I think I was ready to go home at the end of it.

While my parents breezed through Pre-Check at the airport, I slowly made my way through General security. I caught sight of an Asian woman far in front of me, and perhaps due to some Asian radar we have, she seemed to catch sight of me.

After I was finally through, my parents and I got much needed coffees and sat down to wait for our flight. I looked up and the Asian woman was seated one table over from us. And she easily began talking with us.

Her husband arrived with their own coffees and eventually she chanced asking me if I was a Korean Adoptee (adoption clear as my parents are both white.) and I told her yes. It turned out she was Korean and her husband was a Korean Adoptee. It further turned out that they were both heads of an organization called the International Korean Adoptee Association, IKAA, and it hosts a gathering in Korea triannually.

Even more kismet was, they remembered a girl coming all the way from Juneau, Alaska, the town where I grew up. My parents and I named a few, and bingo, one of the girls I grew up with, attending our own annual adoption group gathering, was the girl they remembered.

When we parted ways (not actually parting too far, as we were all going to Seattle,) they gave us an information packet on the next gathering in Korea, happening this very summer, 2019.

Later, back at home, I remembered the movie Twinsters, and wondered which gathering they had attended, thinking there must be bunches out there. I looked into it and, to my surprise, found that it was an IKAA gathering.

If I had never believed in Fate, or in signs, how could I ever deny this?

Holiday Vacation Epilogue

The bilingual pooch we met at the airport. I had seen this dog going thru security while I was standing in line. After sitting down with our coffees, I looked up to see this dog again, with its two owners. An Asian woman and man. We struck up conversation and come to find out the three of us were all Korean. They were able to correctly deduce that I was adopted, as I was seated with my (white) parents. Then they told us that they were the founders and organizers of a group called the International Korean Adoptee Association, who get together for a conference in Seoul every three years. It’s something I’ve been thinking very strongly about doing. Attending an adoptee conference in Korea. We talked about how we are from Juneau, AK and that growing up, I was a part of a large group of Korean Adoptees. Come to find out they knew and had hosted one of the very girls from that group! They gave us information on the upcoming conference this coming summer. And then we were kicked out of the area we’d been drinking our coffee in. But it goes to show how small this world really is, and how open we can all really be.