Article: A Korean Adoptee’s Life in a Chinese Family

This was a really fascinating story about a Korean American woman adopted by a Chinese American family. From Nichi Bei Times. We don't always hear about cross-cultural adoptions when we think of Asian Americans, African Americans or Latino/a Americans adopting a child from a different ethnic or cultural group. This is a good reminder that race is not monolithic. Also, it is a good reminder that adopting cross-culturally does not always mean internationally.

Nora’s Journey: A Korean Adoptee’s Life in a Chinese Family

Nora’s Journey: A Korean Adoptee’s Life in a Chinese Family

Published in the Nichi Bei Times Weekly July 9-15, 2009.

Special to the Nichi Bei Times

My grandmother, Nora Kim, was born in 1917 as Esther Yoon, the fourth child to Duggar Choi Yoon and Byung Hi Yoon in Upland, Calif. Her eldest siblings, Gilbert and Anna, were born in Korea, and her brother Paul was born in Hawai‘i. After Grandma was born, her mother fell ill and her father — we believe in a state of panic — hurriedly arranged an adoption of the new baby through the church. Her mother knew nothing of the adoption until she recovered from her illness.

Grandma was adopted by a Chinese couple, Tom Chung and Yuet Lan Lee, and re-named Nora.

When Grandma was 12, her adoptive mother died suddenly. Her death was abrupt and shocked the family; she took ill for a short time, and then one night, her father called for a doctor because she had taken a turn for the worse. She died later that night.

After her death, her husband fell apart. In the area of Los Angeles where they lived, word must have traveled to Grandma’s Korean family about her adoptive mother’s death, because shortly thereafter she was called to her principal’s office at school. A woman and her daughter were waiting for her there, and introduced themselves as her mother and sister, Sarah.

Grandma’s Chinese father never spoke directly to her about her adoption. One day, he handed her an envelope, inside of which was her birth certificate and adoption papers. That was the only gesture of recognition she ever received about being adopted.

Read the whole story here.

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

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