Wednesday, September 23, 2009

how to plan a vacation!

So I was talking to a friend of mine (the one who convinced me that I need to blog again), and I was trying to convince them of taking a vacation. They just graduated from school and now have a job and are earning a paycheck! I asked where they were going to go on vacation with their newfound freedom and money! My friend replied that they didn't know how too and were scared a little of how to schedule a vacation. So this is for my friend in Chicago, who has only been to the Shedd Aquarium once!

Since I have traveled probably more than 99.9% of the population my age, I figured I would give my friend some help/advice!

Step 1: Figure out where you want to go! My friend has an interest in Vancouver for the Olympics in 2010, so we will use that!

Step 2: Figure out when (dates) you are going to go. Since it is for the Olympics, the dates are pretty much set. The Olympics are in February 12 - 28th, 2010. The gold round for female figure skating is Feb 25th and the Gold round for the best short track speed skating is Feb. 26th!

Step 3: Figure out your budget. This is obviously going to be pretty is the Olympics. For this trip lets say $5000. I know it may seem like a lot, but it is the Olympics.

Step 4: Flights. Since it is pretty common location Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia all work well. I found a flight on Orbitz on Continental for $637 total for a 1 stop flight from St. Louis to Vancouver. I know some people are willing to make multiple stops for a cheaper flight, but remember you are paying money for your vacation and taking time off from work for you really want to waste time flying further and wasting time in airports? Also don't forget to sometimes check individual airline websites because sometimes they have promotions(I highly doubt anyone is goign to for the Olympics). Also, if your traveling in the US, Southwest is often the cheapest but does not sell tickets on Orbitz.

Step 5: Hotels. This can change your cost a lot! To some people this is important, to others its just where you sleep and you plan to spend most of your time outside. Depending on what I am planning on doing, I will decide how nice of a hotel I want. Remember, sometimes staying a little further out will save you a lot! As we will see in this example. Because of the Olympics all of the hotels have inflated prices and are booked! Even the Holiday Inn Express has a nightly rate of over $500/night! If your willing to travel 40 miles the hotel rooms get reduced dramatically! back to normal $100+/night! 45 minutes away , 35 minutes away

Step 6: Figure out what your going to do. Since these tickets are already sold out, your going to have to find tickets through brokers (which means they will be more expensive). To do this simply google what your looking for! You'll be amazed at what you'll find! It is a little bit risky buying tickets online if you have never done it before. I would normally recommend buying direct, but in this case they are sold out. is a good place to find tickets as you will also find other brokers. Here is what I found: Short Track Speed Skating Gold Round and Women's Figure Skating Gold Round. As you can see the cheapest tickets for both of these events is going to cost about $800 total and can go all the way up to thousands of dollars!

So there it is...all in a few minutes!
Flight: $637
Hotel: $600 (assuming you stay at the 35 minute hotel for 3 nights, and factoring in taxes)
Tickets: $800
Food: $400 (assuming $100 a day, remember everything is going to cost more at the Olympics)
Total: $2437

You may think this is a lot, but it is truly a once in a lifetime experience! Personally I would spend more money to either stay longer or get better seats (to improve my experience). Since this is really a once in a lifetime event, you might want to splurge a little.


I know I have not posted in so long! I actually do feel bad. I have been so busy its unbelievable! So I figured my first post back would give an update:

I sold my house about a month ago. I moved into central St. Louis area. I did this because I started school about a month ago also. I am going to school at Washington University in St Louis for my MBA. I have classes on Tuesday and Thursday from 6:15 to 9:15 PM.

On top of all this, my traveling continues! it was supposed to stop by now, but it looks like I might be traveling to Corpus Christi several more times!

I know I talked to several other people who did their MBA while working, like I am doing now, and they said it would be tough but it was worth it....all I have to say is...I really hope its worth it! It's amazing how little time I have anymore!

My two classes I am taking right now are "Organizational Behavior" and "Introduction to Management and Strategy". I really like the strategy class, and I am now thinking this is maybe what I want to do in the future. The Organizational Behavior is more of a socialogy/psychology class....which Im not so hot about. Its a lot of touchy feely stuff...the other engineers that got their MBA warned me about these types of classes. I don't hate it as much as they said I would, I don't particularly enjoy it either, but I do find a few things interesting. I can't wait until next half-semester when I get to take statistics and analytical decision making! Now those are two classes that an engineer or math nerd can appreciate!! I can't wait!

Friday, June 12, 2009


One of my blogger readers/friends just emailed me the other day in response to my previous email about not having enough things to talk about. He told me some awesome news!

He recently was able to go to court and get full release of his adoption information including his biological parents information! How awesome is that. If you would like to read the ruling you can see it in this PDF online: Court Document

Apparently his ruling has since set the precedence for all adoptees in Colorado for adoptions that were finalized between July 1951 - 1967! How awesome is that. It looks like adoptees are slowing "etching away" at the huge legal wall that keeps them from finding out information. While some people may think that its just a small window of time, you have to start somewhere. Maybe this will lay the groundwork for other states and other dates!

That is so awesome! and Congratulations to JH!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I can't believe its been over a month since I last posted. Im not sure if anyone still reads (hard to "still read" when nothing new is posted).

One of my real life friends who watches my blog has been bugging me to post again. It might also be that she has moved away and misses the good ole' St. Louis? I have been procrastinating, because in truth, I just don't know what to post about. I feel that I have exhausted the Korean topic, and its really tough to blog about that when you live in the US...particularly in St. Louis, where there is almost no Korean culture.

Ive grown weary of the adoption topic. While I have learned a lot, and thought a lot about this topic, I feel that I have worn myself out on this topic.

My friend suggested that I just write about whats going on in my life, so I guess I'll start doing that. Although I can't imagine that being particular interesting...again, I think its because she misses St. Louis! LOL.

This weekend was crazy and a lot of fun. I wish I had my camera but I forgot to bring it with me. Saturday night my friends had an ice cream social to kick off the summer.

Then on Sunday night we celebrated the birthdays of 3 of our friends, with a grill out. Everyone brought their own meat and we grilled it. There were various steaks, brats, burgers (even the non-meat variety), and kabobs. It was delicious. My friends Nicci and Leo and I decided to splurge a little and bought filets. I put sea salt and pepper on them and then slowly grilled them for 40 minutes. Leo said he wanted it medium (pink but no blood), but he kept saying that didn't think it was possible because filets are so thick. I told him, not to concern himself with it, and I knew what I was doing. Well, after 40 minutes of grilling, they came out perfect! Pink in the middle, no blood, and the tenderest steak I have ever eaten! Yum! Unfortunately we ate them so quickly, there was no time to get a picture! Maybe next time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Grad School!

Well, it looks like everything might work out! Last year, I decided to quit my job and company in Africa, to find a new job/company back in the US so I could go back to school to pursue a MBA degree.

I found out this week that I got accepted into Washington University in St. Louis!

Hopefully my work travel schedule will work out so that I can start!

Im excited and nervous about being a student again! I will be doing the evening program so I can continue working. I will probably be pretty busy with work and school work at the same time! But I'm looking forward to being back on a campus!

Being Grateful...

It feels good to be writing again. My life has been pretty crazy lately. Work has me traveling a lot which really restricts my writing

Anyways, I was perusing through the typical blogs and came across one talking about the expectation of being grateful for being adopted. Maybe I read it wrong, but it felt like there was some resentment towards that "expectation"?

It made me think about how I view the definition of "grateful" and what it meant to me.

To me: Gratefulness is a self attitude of thankfulness or appreciation for something, usually undeserving. Gratefulness usually is tied to a current condition, although you can be grateful something didn't happen to you.

You can't be grateful if you are enacting it just because someone tells you..however should we not be grateful for everything?

I am grateful that I am adopted. I don't know why this is such a hard thing for some adoptees to deal with or feel like they are pressured to be by society? You can't be pressured into gratefulness because it is a self attitude.

I know that being adopted is not ideal. I know that in a perfect world I would not have been adopted. But that does not, and should not, prevent me from being grateful for being adopted.

So what causes someone to be grateful? Why are some adoptees grateful for being adopted and some not? Well since it is a self attitude, I guess it has to do with some inner self reflection and thought? I know a lot of people hate the attitude of "move on", but it is so true, I don't know how to formulate a thought without that mentality. No amount of reflection, self loathing, or anything else will change the fact that I was adopted in the first place. So I guess I have to "move on" past the fact that I was adopted. Now you can "move on" with a bitterness towards what happened to you and that the best scenario didn't work out, indifferance, or gratefulness that something worse didn't happen. I guess my feeling is if you live your life always looking back and reflecting on how much better it could have been, I realize that you miss what is going on now, and actually make what is going on now worse because I am bringing that negative attitude to what is happening now.

So in light of this here is a quick list of what I am grateful for:

1. I am grateful that my birth mother gave birth to me (the alternative is so much worse!)

2. I am grateful that I was found in the bakery by the police (sure its not ideal, but better than roaming the streets at 3 years of age!)

3. I am grateful for Grace Home Orphanage in Daejeon, and my Orphanage mother and sister who I have met.

4. I am grateful for my parents, providing a home and family to me. It seems that some adoptees view that adoptive children make a family to APs, but they overlook that APs provide a family in return. Its a two way street.

5. I am grateful to adoption agencies. Even though there is a lot of difficulty with them, and they may be inefficient or corrupt at times. Without them I would have never been adopted.

6. I am grateful to visit my motherland, Korea. Even when it is difficult seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting things that I remember from when I was a child. Or even the pain I feel when I have to explain to the people that I can't speak Korean, and the look on their face. I am still grateful.

7. I am grateful to the Korean family that "adopted" me back when I visited Korea. I still am in touch with them and very much consider them family!

8. I am grateful for finding blogs. I started blogging 3/4 of a year ago and got me into writing about adoptions. It has really opened up a lot of emotions and feelings that I never explored before. But it is for the better. I am grateful that I "survived" the endeavor, and came out the same person as before.

Monday, March 30, 2009

What's in a Name?

I recently read a blog about a Korean adoptee changing their name back to their Korean name. I wondered why in the world would someone change their name back? For me, after 23 years since my name was changed to English (I can somewhat remember that court proceeding) I can't imagine changing it back and using my previous name "Yang Woon Hee".

However, in the last couple of months I have been faced with a new question that I have never been asked before (in my 23 previous years of growing up in the US). When I think about it, I don't know why I have never been asked this question before in my life. The question is very rude, and hard to deal with sometimes. Because about the only way to politely respond it is to tell some stranger that you are adopted (Which I don't always want to divulge).

The question is usually phrased in the following ways:
"I don't picture you as a Spalding"
"You don't seem to match your last name"

My most recent occurance was last night when I was checking into my hotel in Houston (I travel a lot for my work). The girl was very friendly and was making small talk as I was checking in, when she said "I didn't picture you with your last name". I just replied "I was adopted." As I replied you could see her face drain of color as she just realized what she had said. She apologize profusely over and over. I actually felt bad for her, because I knew that she didn't mean it in any mean way, but was just trying to be friendly.

I had this discussion with my Korean tutor last week about last names. In Korea, people can use their last names and trace the family lines for hundreds and hundreds of years. She asked me how Americans got their last names. I explained that for most Americans, you can tell what ancestory they came from. How you can tell if someone had German heritage or French heritage based on their last names. This is why I didn't take offense when the Hotel clerk as me this question. Even though it was hard for me to "swallow" and to respond, I don't fault her. I would thoroughly agree that my looks do not match my last name.

In the last couple of weeks, I have really thought about this issue because I have never faced it before. When I thought about it, I was quite amazed that this was not an issue that I had to face before(or maybe it was something that I don't recall having to face, but I know I have been asked these types of questions within the last 10 years!). After being asked this question several times in the last couple of weeks, the question of having a Korean last name has really come back in my mind.

Ironically, at Sunday School class at church the discussion of names came up. Talking about how most Asians pick an English first name because it is too difficult for Americans to pronounce their first names properly. My church is predominantly Asian, and on this particular day, the only caucasion was the teacher and the rest of us were all Korean! So we went around telling each other our Korean names. The only difference was everyone else had Korean last names: Kang, Chun, Lee, and Hwang. Our teacher's last name was Calhoun and my last name of Spalding were both of Scottish decent.

Is it important that your looks match your last name? I think it makes a little bit more of a difference for a male than a female because traditionally the males carry on the family names (even in Korean culture). So its not too unusually to see an Asian woman who has a non-Asian name because people just assume she married a non-Asian. However, most men never change their family name. So if you have an non-Asian last name it is very unusual and most people don't understand how a male can have a non-Asian last name.

I doubt I would ever go to court and change my name on my own. I know growing up and even now I don't have any particular strong ties to my family name. I've always openly and sub-consciously been open to the idea of changing my last name. I know I was always fascinated with how it was always the woman who changed their last name to match their husbands. I have always thought that I would be open to taking my wife's name if I ever got married, if that was what she would rather have. I think its important for a married couple ot have the same family name, and I personally wouldn't care if its mine or my wife's. In particular, if I were to marry an Asian girl I could understand wanting to keep an Asian last name, to avoid confusions with having a non-Asian last name.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Boys Before Flowers (꽃보다 남자 )

This drama is the latest "rage" in K-Drama. This is an extremely popular drama that was apparently originally a comic, then a Japanese Drama, then a Chinese Drama, now the Koreans are trying to "up" everyone else, and they are doing a great job of it!

One of the main reasons for the popularity of this show is the use of Korean "Idols" or pop-stars as we would call it. 4 of the 5 main characters are all good looking pop-stars who attract a lot of females to the show. These four "Idols" comprise of a group called F4 in the drama and maybe you can see why so many females are infatuated with them:

Lee Min Ho (Goo Jun Pyo - The Leader)

Kim Hyun Joong (Yoon Ji Hoo - The Musician)

Kim Bum (So Yi Jung - The Potter)

Kim Joon (Song Woo Bin - The Mob Boss)

Then there is the main reason to watch the show. The main character Geum Jan Di, acted by Koo Hye Sun. She is not the stereo-typical gorgeous Korean star (although her profile picture isn't bad, instead she is very much the "girl next door". She is attractive but it is refreshing and nice to see such a popular star that did not have plastic surgery to become successful. In the show, her character is very much "plain Jane". She wins the hearts of all of the fans of this show with her quirky, yet charismatic character. She has some of the greatest facial expressions I have seen! The only other person that comes to mind with this type of talent is Jim Carey, but I'd much rather watch Koo Hye Sun in action than Jim Carey any day!

Koo Hye Sun (Geum Jan Di - Poor Girl)

Whether you watch the show for the "eye candy" boys or the quirky/charismatic personna of Geum Jan Di, this show is excellent. I will have to so, that so far it is my favorite of all time!

A little background to the show (without ruining the plot). There is a ultra exclusive high school in Korea called Shinwha High School (obviously owned by the Shinhwa Corporation, the biggest in Korea and obviously ficticious). The school has a group called F4, who are the best looking, most gifted, and the future of Korea (see above).

At the same time there is a poor girl, Geum Jan Di, who's parents are struggling financially and run a dry cleaning store. Through some different events, Jan Di is invited to attend Shinhwa University. Where she catches the eyes of two of the four F4 members! The story goes into the typical love triangle (with a "square" thrown in later), of rich boys vs. poor girls theme.

Unlike most other dramas with similar plots, the writers do a good job of not "flip flopping" back and forth with the love triangle. It has just the right amount of trist to make you sit on the edge of your seat!

I hope you'll take the time to watch this drama some time. They are in 1 hour 15 minute episodes. I would highly recommend you watch the first episode, if your not totally enthralled by Koo Hye Sun's (Geum Jan Di) performance, or looking at the "eye candy", then maybe this show isnt for you (but then again I would check to see if you have a pulse!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I haven't posted in a while. I have been extremely busy.

Right now I am recovering from a cooking incident. Trying to open a box of tofu (I knew there was a reason I hate buying tofu in a box), I cut my pinky nuckle on my left hand, near to the bone! The ER doctor has put a splint on it with that crazy glue stuff because its right on the nuckle. I have taken off the splint once in a while, but the tendon is really sore...I hope it will heal soon.

Anyways, if you buy tofu, don't get it in the box, and if you do...use

I was making Kimchee Chigae the other night and I didn't have any tofu in my fridge. So I ran out to the local grocery store and they only have firm, extra firm, super firm tofu!! Honestly! don't they know of this awesome ingredient called soft tofu?? They multiple brands of each of these tofus. To make matters worse each was in a cardboard box! how can buy the soft tofu in neat plastic tubes at the Korean grocery fear of cutting yourself cutting into a tube!!

While tofu does not have much a taste in itself, people often ask me why I eat it. I reply because I like it..however, thinking about it there is not much a taste, but the fact that it is so subtle and I really like the texture. Which is probably why I prefer the super soft tofu to the firm. A soup doesn't feel right if it doesn't have tofu in it! Besides, its a "super food". Tofue is super healthy for you and it doesn't taste bad..what more could you want?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

About Me

So on Diane's (a faithful reader, who also blogs, but from an AP perspective) blog, the writers are telling about themselves. I have never done this, so I thought I would give it a try to let my few readers learn a little bit more about me.

1. Name: InMySeoul (obviuosly not my real name, but my blogger name)

2. Top 5 destinations: Korea, Korea, Korea, Korea, ok, seriously though Korea, Luang Prabang (Laos), Koh Tao (Thailand), Whistler (Canada), Vail (Colorado).

3. Favorite Films: Oh boy. Im a movie addict. I've seen them all I guess I'll have to do them by genres:
Action: Top Gun, Patton, Platoon
Foreign Film: My Sassy Girl
Comedy: Zoolander, Grumpy Old Men, Gran Torino
Chick Flicks: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, 10 Things I Hate About You, My Sassy Girl

Seriously, if you have never seen "My Sassy Girl", You need too! Its the best chick flick I've ever seen. I'm a sucker for the romantic ending like the cowboy riding off into the sunset.

4. Favorite Foods - would be easier to list what I don't
Anything Korean. My favorites are: Gamja Tang, Jjim Daek, and sunduboo.

5. Favorite Color for the home - Navy Blue

6. Favorite Room in your house - Tie between kitchen (I love to cook), and my family room where my tv, big speakers, and comfy couch are located!

7. Favorite color to wear - whatever is clean and comfortable at the time!

8. Favorite season - winter with lots of snow!!

9. favorite zoo animal - I never really liked the zoo much, because it smelled. I always had fun at the polar bear exhibit, and also watching the hippos fart in the pool. I was mature for my

10. Favorite Farm Animal - none. I was raised in the city and I am a city slicker

11. Favorite time of day - morning and late late night. Wierd combination I know.

12. Favorite Type of Book - anything that gets my interest. I don't have any one genre.

13. First Job - babysitting for my sister's friends.

14. Oddest Job - hmm..never really had one. probably working at a nursery school?

15. Are you easily embarrassed? yes, usually, depending on the subject.

16. Any Phobias? Yes. I am an introvert so I hate meeting new people, I hate large groups of people. Ironically, my friends don't realize this and think I'm an extrovert, but thats only because I am good at forcing myself to overcome this weakness. The fear of falling (not heights, just the dropping part). Also I have a phobia of birds; I can't stand their legs, beaks, and feathers. I'm ok eating them as long as I dont think about the above three things.

17. Any Quirks? Oh I'm sure I have them. Im a single guy, so I know I have a few. I don't like feet. Growing up, I would wear shoes from the moment I woke up until I went to bed (even laying on the couch!). My mother says I have "baby feet" because to this day they are so soft and tender. I have had to overcome this recently because for the first time in my life, I have made friends with Asians, who incidently don't wear shoes inside the house!

I don't like giving or receiving hugs, kisses, or other forms of PDA.

18. Favorite song to sing with your kids: Well, I dont have kids. I remember my mom's favorite song: "You're 16" by Ringo Starr. If I did have kids I would probably sing: "As I Lay Me Down" by Sophie Hawkins. Awesome song, probably one of my favorites!

19. Favorite music when you were a teen: Oh man, I love everything except country. If I had to narrow it down, probably grunge and Punk. I love Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and most punk music.

20. Five words to describe you - LOUD, nerd, decisive (everything is black and white, no gray), energetic, reliable.

21. If you were offered a free trip to the moon would you go? Depends on who else was going. If it was by myself, NO. (I worked in a lab for a summer, it sucks being by yourself for a long time!)

22. Favorite TV shows when you were a kid - Party of 5, Full House, Family Matter

23. Favorite children's book - The Little Engine that Could, any Richard Scary books (because of the name)

24. Least favorite household chore - all of them!

25. Open up your local paper and write down your horoscope for today - sorry, don't have a newspaper, and actually I don't read them.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"Voices from Another Place"

This is the latest book I have read. It is a collection of short stories, poems, and art written/created by Korean adoptees. It is a very cool concept, although the application was a little weak. The book is just a hodgepodge of writings.

While the layout could have been better, there are some excellent stories and poems in the book. There were 3 or 4 stories/poems that really "hit home" for me in this book. I'm not sure if its worth buying the book for just 3 or 4 really good pieces of work?

Since it is impossible to sum up all of the emotions an adoptee feels, the only way to learn about it is to hear the stories of many adoptees. This book does provide for a lot of different feelings to be exposed, however it falls short in that the book has no organization.

At the end of the book, it gives a one or two sentence introduction of each artist, but i think the book would have been better if it had the "adoption" story of each artist prior to their work.

Like I said, I don't regret reading the book, but I'm not sure its worth the $10 price tag. I did find 3 or 4 really good pieces which I am glad to have found.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Orphanage mother

I have mentioned this before, but only in passing.

When I visited the orphanage I came from in Daejeon, I met my Orphanage mother! Its been 23 years since I was there last and she was still there! She cried and kept holding my hand and rubbing my cheeks! (my adoptive mother does this too!! I don't know what is with my cheeks, but for some reason my mothers always have to rub them!)

After hearing my story, I have come to greatly appreciate my orphanage mother. She gave me my Korean family name of "Yang", it is her family name. Even though I was only 3 at the time I was brought to the orphanage, she decided to keep me there (The orphanage is supposed to be for children 5 years and older). I was there for almost 2 years by the time I was adopted. Lastly, she had the youngest picture of me, that I didn't know existed. They took the picture the day I arrived at the orphanage. I was in clothes that I didn't recognize, and now thinking about it, I wonder if those were the clothes that I was found in, or if those were orphanage clothes? Maybe someday I'll ask.

She said that she was so thankful that I was well and had gotten a good education and had a good job. In my 23 years of being away, I never once thought about my orphanage mother. I've probably thought about my birth mother 10 times in my life, and of course my adoptive mother all the time, but my orphanage mother...I didn't even know one existed!

Apparently there were 4 of us that were adopted overseas from her "children". She said she was scared because she never heard back from any of us, and was constantly worried if she made the right choice of letting one of her "children" be adopted overseas. She then told me that one of my "brothers" visited from Germany a year before me! and that I was the second one to return "home"! She said she was so blessed that we were doing so well.

This really opened my eyes to the "unsung heroes" in my life.

In adoption we always talk about the birth mother, adoptive mother, and the adoptee, but never talk about the "orphanage mother" or people invovled in the orphanages where we came from. I wonder if my case is unique in that my "orphanage mother" has worked in the same orphanage for so long? I wonder how much of an imprint we (adoptees) leave behind on the workers that work at the orphanage.

This year for Valentine's Day I don't want to forget my "Orphanage Mother". I never realized until last year, that I had someone worrying about me at my orphanage.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Birth is More Than Once: The Inner World of Adopted Korean Children

This book was written by Hei Sook Wilkinson, and is more of a discertation than a novel. Its also quite short and kind of pricy if you calculate the price/page cost. I was pleasantly surprised how good of a read this book was. I was expecting some boring paper about adoption research. Instead I found it very interesting and very easy to read.

Hei Sook Wilkinson is a Korean Adoptee herself, and apparently very famous among the Adoptee and Asian Women circles for her work. The book is a non-fiction, and is the account of Hei Sook Wilkinson during her research of Korean Adoptees.

I would highly recommend this book to any Adoptive Parent or potential adoptive parent because it is very insightful. The information given in the book would be helpful for any foreign adoption. I would have to say it would be kind of useless for non-foreign adoptees as most of the issues discussed have to do with cultural based issues.

When I read the book, I did find myself saying "Well Duh!" Or "no kidding", but after some time and reflection I realized that to adoptees many of the things in this book are obvious, but probably not obvious to Adoptive Parents. Even though I did find a lot of things obvious, there were still a couple things I had never considered or realized myself. This made me try to think back when I was first adopted to remember how I felt.

Hei Sook Wilkinson postulates that all of the children in her study go through the same "phases" in their lives as they go through their adoption. The speed of which these "phases" pass is dependent on the children.

Again, I highly recommend this book. I think all Adoptive Parents should read it and I think even Adoptees should read it. I gives a good and clear insight on the psychology of the adoptee during the first years of adoption. I will post another post soon discussing one of the "Phases" that really hit home for me!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Adoption and Real Life

Usually racial things don't bother me. Being a foreign adoptee, I have just grown a thick skin to being different. Whether someone calls me Chinese, Japanese, or Filipino, or even racial slurs like chink, gook, or whatever, never seems to bother me. However what does sting sometimes is when people assume that my parents are Asian. I know this isn't seem logical. Since I am very Korean looking, it is only logical for other people to assume my parents look the same as I do. So I try not to fault them at all, because their thought process is logical.

That doesn't help the pain that I feel every once in a while, when someone does assume my parents are Asian. Its wierd, some days it affects me more than others. I think it has to do with my audience and who I am talking with.

This issue just came up yesterday and for some reason it really hurt. I had just finished playing a hockey game and we were in the locker room. For those of you who have never experienced a "locker room" setting, its pretty much a lot of testosterone and joking and usuall not very poliically correct talking. So the usual banter is going on; which usually consists of off-color jokes (ironic since our team is a melting pot of races, but anything goes in a locker room). Anyways, the Asian jokes don't bother me, however someone made a comment like "It's because you have an Asian mother, and she probably taught you that...". Innocent enough comment. I said "My mother isn't Asian". I got this wierd look, then I decided to let it go. It wasn't worth trying to explain.

Why did that comment hurt so much? I know the person who made the comment was not trying to be mean or hurtful, but for some reason it really pinched me.

Why did I have such a hard time telling them I was adopted? I don't know either. I think maybe because I'm already different enough. In case you don't follow hockey, there are not many Asians in the NHL. There are actually more blacks than Asians in the NHL! Its not like these guys are strangers anymore. I've been playing on the same team, with the same players for over 6 months now. But for some reason I just didn't want to explain to them that I was adopted. I don't usually have any problems telling people I'm adopted, but here was an instance where I didn't speak up. Was I just tired? Was I embarassed? I don't know. I just swallowed the lump in the back of my throat and finished getting changed, and walked out of the locker room.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I need your help!

I am in the process of having a new website designed. Will you please go to this link: Here

Take a look around the website, and please post comments on what you think. What changes should be made, and any suggestions you have.

I'm Sorry!

I don't know what has been happening! It seems like my life has been flashing by. I don't know where the time has gone. Anyways, I'm back and hopefully I'll find the time to post more regularly.

Anyways, I have been doing a lot of reading lately so I will have several reviews coming up.

The first one is called "Miles from Nowhere" by Nami Mun.

I received an email from a publisher asking me to review this book and write about it on my blog. It took me a while to get to the review.

This is a quick read book. It only took me two days to read it, and it is well written. However, that is about as much praise as I can give to the book. The story itself is kind of disturbing and definitely not for a young audience.

The story is about a Korean girl whose family moves to the US from Korea. Her father abandons her and her mother soon after the relocation. The girl soon runs away from home. The book follows her life growing up on the streets; including life in foster care, prostitution, and drugs. The book is quite "gritty" and not for the feint of heart.

This book is a fictional book and is not based on the authors life.

My personal feeling is that the book was written for shock value. I personally don't like reading books like this normally, and I would normally not buy this type of book from the bookstore. The book is probably too real about a girls life on the streets, which is probably what deters me from this book. I know its "shallow" of me, but I hate reading books that delve into this side of society and life. I guess I'm more of the "cowboy riding into the sunset" type of reader. If you like to read about things like this, then you will probably enjoy this book because it does seem very real and it does seem the author did a good job in researching for her book. I guess it was just too real and graphic for my tastes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Fitting In" (Part 2)

I believe this is a big issue/concern for many foreign adoptees. At least in my personal experience it is probably the one I struggle with the most. For some odd reason, I have never really been driven by the typical question of "Why was I given up for adoption?". To be truthful, I'm not sure if I was abandoned or truly accidently lost. It was not uncommon for mothers to abandon their children as a way of "giving them up". So since I was found in a bakery, it could have been that my mother truly abandoned me or I could have been lost. In my mind, I was adopted and that was the end of it. It doesn't matter how I got here, but the fact that I am here now.

What I do struggle with sometimes is "fitting in". I remember as a child always wanting to fit in. I just recently read an interesting book written by Dr. Hei Sook Wilkinson titled "Birth Is More Than Once: The Inner World of Adopted Korean Children". Dr. Wilkinson writes about her study of 8 Korean adoptees in the Greater Detroit area. One of her findings that was common among all of the adoptees was their striving towards "fitting in". Common to all of the adoptees, was their disinterest in anything to do with Korea; This included culture, food, and language. Dr. Wilkinson observed that this was a temporary phase common in the development of the children. After some time, the children regained interest in their native country.

Since I was 5 years old when I was adopted, I had some capacity in the Korean language. My parents used to tell me about introducing me to Koreans who would try to speak to me in Korean but I would refuse or pretend not to understand them. This was even within weeks of being adopted when obviously I only understood Korean! I can't be sure why I did this because I don't even recall doing this.

Dr. Wilkinson's concluded that this was common in her study and that it was due to each adoptee wanting to "fit in" into their new culture and surroundings as fast as possible. She further postulated that this was driven by each adoptee wanting to be accepted by their new family and their new surroundings (thus contributing to the success and permanance of their adoption). New adoptees tended to believe if they blend in fast and quickly, then their new adoptive parents will have less reason to send them back. While I can't say for sure whether or not this applied to me, I do know that it makes sense. I think my parents agree in that they contribute it to my will to "fit in" as quickly as possible. I'm not sure if this was out of "fear" of being sent back if I didn't "fit in" quickly or not, but I suppose it could have been.

Another phase that Dr. Wilkinson recognized in her study was "identifying" with other Koreans (or sometimes just asians). This was of course after the child overcame or grew out of the phase above of rejecting one's culture. I vividly remember this phase of my life. A year after being in the US, my parents enrolled me in pre-school. At the pre-school I remember my best friend was another Korean boy (I think Korean, definitely asian), we believed we were brothers because we were both asian so we believed we were related.

I used to ridicule ethnic groups in the US for "clumping" together (not necessarily ridicule, but couldn't understand why people would clump together). Developing little sub-cultures such as China Town, Korea Town, Mexican Town, amongst larger cities. In these areas you will hear the appropriate foreign language and authentic food. I couldn't understand how people could live in the US and never learning how to speak English, and only speaking their native tongues. My feelings were probably due to the fact that I grew up in a very prodominantly white suburb of Detroit. So when I was growing up, I couldn't believe that people would want to isolate themselves from American society. In the last couple of years, my view on this has changed. I can now understand why they would be drawn to living in the same areas as other people with the same ethnicity.

I think I have re-entered the "identifying" phase. I seem to find myself more drawn to asians lately. For the first time in my life I the majority of my friends are asian, and mostly Korean. I recently moved, so I was in search of a new church. I have to admit that I decided to see if there was an Asian church I could go to. I found one and I found that I really liked the people and have since made a lot of friends. I'll have to say, I rather enjoy it. Its not that we are exclusively asians, there are a couple non-asians. What I found is that we just naturally have things in common. Obviously we enjoy the same foods, similar secondary languages, and similar interests in pop-culture (ie K-music and K-dramas). This makes it very easy and comfortable to develop relationships with this crowd.

This recent event in my life has opened my eyes and made me realize that it does seem easier to relate when you share a common ethnicity/race with people. One thing I'm sure other adopted Koreans can relate too is introducing our non-asian friends to Korean food. The foods in particular are seaweed and especially kimchee. Depending on what kind of personalities your friends have some of them make quite the commotion about eating seaweed and kimchee. Particularly the smell of kimchee and the smell of kimchee when it "leaks" through the pores in your skin. Cultural differences such as these can definitely hinder making friendships with people who don't understand or have a "nose" for kimchee. A fellow blogger (Kim Yoonmi) talks about this issue in her blog: Here

Prior to my visits to Korea, I always lived in white societies and the vast majority of my friends were also white. Not that this is bad, actually I have some excellent friends. However, sometimes I just fealt that I didn't "fit in". So when the opportunity came to visit Korea for the first time, I was really excited that I was finally going to blend in and "fit in". I quickly found out that I was going to be disappointed. Sure I blended in by looks, but as soon as I opened my mouth I stick out like a sore thumb.

I definitely don't want to downplay the relationships I have developed with some of the best people I have ever met in my life in Korea. I met some really nice people in Korea. Some people that I will never forget and I will always remain in contact with all of my life. I would have to say that Koreans on a whole are very kind and helpful people.

However, I never felt like I didn't "fit in" more than during my travels in Korea. Ironically where I thought I would "fit in" the most, it turns out that I felt I stuck out the most. The language factor is probably the biggest reason I felt that I didn't "fit in" as well as I thought as I would. Since I love Korean food, and my Korean friends say that I am very much Korean except my language (ie my sense of humor and my interest in Korean pop-culture); I believe that language is the single biggest factor of "fitting in". Which is probably why I felt that I didn't "fit in" as well in Korea as in the US.

Sometimes it was external factors that made me feel like I didn't "fit in". Such as the one restaurant owner who refused to serve me because I didn't speak Korean. But more often than not it was my own internal feelings that made me feel like I didn't "fit in". I was so frustrated with myself on several occasions:
1. Trying to tell a taxi where to go
2. Trying to figure out what to eat for lunch or dinner
were the two most common instances where I this feeling was greatest. This feeling of not "fitting in" was not put on me other people. Instead this feeling came from internally. It was more of a feeling of shame of myself. To be honest, it was very discouraging at times. Luckily I met some really nice people in Korea who definitely made my trips worth while. But this whole scenario has put a huge drive in my life to re-learn my native language. I have purhcased and used Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, and now I take private lessons to try and learn Korean. I truely do believe that the language barrier is the primary factor of whether or not I feel like I "fit in". This is not to discount the other factors. Like I said, in my recent move, I think I have been able to make friends much quicker not only because I share the same language, but also because we share a commone sub-culture of asian food and pop-culture.

Now I can understand people wanting to "clump" together with people from their ethnicity. Particularly when language is a factor. I'm not sure that I will make decisions on where I will live in the future based on this, but I'm sure it will be in my mind when I do have to make the decision.

Monday, January 19, 2009

"Fitting In" (Part 1)

I am the type of people where I can move and live anywhere and get along. Technically I think I prefer bigger cities, but I still enjoyed my 5 years of living in a town of 6000 people. I am able to adjust and adapt to my surroundings. I don't know if this has to do with being adopted, and having gone through a huge adaption (change in culture and language) or if its just my personality. I won't dwell on that aspect long because either way, I'm glad that I have this trait.

I am an extreme introvert. My friends will laugh if they read this because I think I am very talkative around them. I mean, I have no problems talking with my friends. What most of my friends don't realize is that if they were a stranger on the street, I would never in a million years talk to them. They also don't know that when we first met, it literally made me sick to my stomach. Whenever I meet new people are in large groups (even large groups of my friends), it makes me feel nauseous. Even in a comfortable setting like in my own church. I can hardly bear the "greeting" time because there are over 10 people (even though I know them all) that I might have to "deal with". When I try to explain to my friends they just don't seem to understand, and they usually laugh because they think they know me better. Its not just butterflies and nervousness, its literally a sickness in my stomach.

The only reason why my friends don't realize that I have this problem is because I force myself to overcome this fear. I know this is a weakness in terms of meeting new people and that realistically I could be perfectly content and happy living a "hermit" style life (which is dangerous for an introvert). So even though it makes me sick to my stomach thinking about it and doing it, I force myself to deal with it. Like I mentioned above; even after I overcome it I still face it every week. Church for example. Even though I know most of the people there, I still get nauseous every Sunday when we are supposed to get up and greet everyone. Or during "fellowship" after church. A big room with lots of people, is probably my biggest fear in life.

Even though I have done it many times, the fear never subsides, it never reduces and never gets easier to do. I have put myself in these situations each week at church, and doing it today, is no easier than my first visit.

I kind of went off on a tangent, so I will split this post into two parts, the second part will resume where I meant to lead this post.

MLK Jr. Day!

Its been a little while since I posted last. I've enjoyed a little rest/break the last couple of days. I've been traveling a lot for work, and its wearing me down a little. However, I did get a nice rest this weekend with MLK Jr. Day off. Its going to be short though because I have to leave tonight for Houston again! I think I'll be glad when my traveling slows

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

To Search or Not To Search: That is the question.

I think this is going to be the toughest post I write. I have been thinking about how to write it for the last couple of days. The reason its going to be the hardest is because its the most "personal" one I've written to date. Lately I have "met" some new people because of the whole adoption posts. I have had some great dialogues with these people. I have decided to publish these thoughts for the public to read in the hopes that it might help others to see what goes on, at least in my mind, when dealing with this topic.

My previous post I showed some videos of an organization called GOAL which helps Korean Adoptees to search for their birth parents. I met with this organization when I was in Seoul last year. However at the time I was not ready to begin my search.

Actually to this day, I am still not ready to start the search. However, the more time that goes by the more that I feel closer to being "ready".

If your not an adoptee you may wonder why someone would not want to search for the parents right away. You may also wonder what it means to be "ready". Unfortunately these are not easy questions to answer. The answer actually depends on each individual.

When I was growing up, I was never really interested in searching for my birth parents. I never really thought much about this subject while I was growing up. Since visiting Korea last year for the first time, this subject has resurfaced. My opinion is slowly changing. I don't want to start my search yet, but I do feel that I am slowly moving in that direction.

While I was growing up, I was not interested in searching for my birth parents because in my mind, the only parents I had in my life were my adoptive parents. I'm not blaming my adoptive parents, and I'm not saying it was because of them that I didn't search. It was totally my decision. My parents were always open and I knew all growing up that if I wanted to search for my birth parents my adoptive parents would have been as supportive as they possibly could have been. However, my life was comfortable and I didn't want anything to disrupt that.

There are several reasons that I don't feel ready.

First, I think I am emotionally scared. Meaning I don't know how I would react to the whole scenario if I were successful in finding my birth parents, and I guess I am a little scared of that.

Second, When I do meet my birth mother, I want to be able to speak to her. That means that I need to learn Korean. If you watched those videos in the previous post, you will notice most of the adoptees couldn't speak to their parents. I think that would be an agonizing feeling. I know it would really upset me, not being able to speak to my birth mother when I find her.

Third, in my situation, it is highly unlikely I would be able to find my parents. Since I was found in a bakery, There is no documentation about my parents. Basically I would have to participate in a television program where adoptees can search for their parents, and people call in if they have any information. I feel that my situation would make the likelihood of me finding my birth parents to be very unlikely which I guess discourages me from starting the search. I know this is a weak excuse, it still plays a role in my decision.

My last concern is if I am successful in finding my birth parents, that the urge to move/live in Korea would be too much for me. I think I would end up moving to Korea almost immediately. This would really hurt my career and I am not ready to put my career on hold right now.

I am slowing working on these items. I am slowly coming to terms that I will want to start the search for my birth parents soon. I am taking Korean tutoring right now, so hopefully I will be able to speak Korean to my birth mother.

As a result of addressing these items, I create a fear. I am fearful that while I prepare to begin my search that I risk that my birth parents may pass away. Obviously the longer I wait the more of a risk this becomes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


No I'm not watching soccer.

My friend Lacy Chu (fake name to protect the, sent me a youtube link about this organization. It reminded me about this great organization. I found them on the internet last year when I was planning on going back to Korea. I actually visited there office in Seoul.

They offer many great services to adopted Koreans. They help with family searches, setting up trips to Korea, and language programs. Here is the link to their website if your interested:

Here is the great documentary. Its in Korean, however the interviews are all in English because they are all Korean adoptees who only speak Korean. Plus you can see the emotions they go through. Be warned, have a box of tissues ready.
Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Episode 3:

Episode 4:

Episode 5:

Episode 6:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Korean Cooking!

I have bought several Korean cook books recently. I have been stocking up on the base ingredients and buying cooking equipment.

I personally love to cook. However, even for someone who thoroughly enjoys cooking, cooking new foods can be daunting. Even though I am Korean, Korean food is somewhat "foreign". By this I mean, I grew up learning how to cook American food. My parents were good about teaching me how to cook. I'm not ashamed to be a single guy who knows how to cook and bake, I'll never go hungry! However cooking American food is much different from cooking Korean food, or any other ethnic food. This may not seem like a big deal, but it does make a big difference.

The difference comes to creativity and time preparation. When you learn how to cook one ethnic type of food, you know what type of flavors, spices, and tastes mix well or work well together. You also learn valuable time savings methods in preparation. So trying to learn a new type of cooking takes a lot of time and effort. It also takes a lot of trial and error, but if your willing to put in the time, the end rewards is great!

Here is one of the recipe books that I purchased:
Discovering Korean Cuisine: Recipes from the Best Korean Restaurants in LA

I was really concerned when I was thinking about purchasing this book. In my past experience most cookbooks from restaurants were usually sub-par. The reason being is the recipes are often extremely complex and difficult, requires equipment the average person doesnt have, and never seems to taste right (like the restaurant is really going to give away their secret sauce!)

This cookbook does not fit this mold. It is actually very good. The recipes are fairly simple (much more than I expected) and they taste great! Although I am still skeptical that the restaurants give out their exact recipes, however, they still taste very good. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to start learning how to cook Korean. Fairly simple recipes, great tastes!

Here are some of the items I've cooked so far:
Dwaeji Bulgogi:

It was so good! It was so good that I made it again a week later!:

The recipe doesnt call for vegetables, but I hate making dishes with just meat, plus I love onions, green peppers, and green onions with these types of dishes! I think I am starting to overcome my "fear" of Korean cooking because I am starting to modify the dishes to my taste!

I have also made kimchi jeon:

I love kimchi jeon, but I never made it before because I thought it might be a little tough to make. Boy was I wrong! Flour, water, kimchi, salt! Thats it!!! And it tastes great!

The third dish I have made from this book was an egg casserole:

It looked really good! Unfortunately, it didnt taste as good as it looked. I think I know what went wrong, so the next time I make it I think I will know how to improve it. I really like this dish so I will try again!

Like I said this cookbook is really good. The recipes taste great, and the recipes are fairly simple and do not require a lot of ingredients (with a few exceptions).

I mentioned that I bought some new was a gift to myself. I figured it would motivate me in my quest to learn Korean cooking, its worked so far!

Jealous? You should be, these are awesome tools! I had to think a long time about buying these. A really good knife set is really expensive. Was it worth the cost? Definitely, I am asking myself why I waited so long to buy a nice set. The efficiency of the way the knives cut is hard to describe. They are very solid knives, with some weight to them (personally like a heavier knife, it makes me feel like there is something there). Of course you can get a really good knife that is light weight. Actually the way the knife fits your hand and the weight are the biggest determining factors when buying a high end knife. So if your debating on getting a really good knife or set, I would highly recommend it. If you don't want to fork over all that money for a full set, I would highly recommend buying a good 8" chef knife, and a 3" or 4" paring knife, these two knives are the most used/common and probably the most cost efficient.