It has been much more difficult and time-consuming to go through adoption process due to COVID-19. However, there are adoptive parents who came visit Korea to adopt children to become parents to love them.
Among them, there was Richardson Family with one of our adoptees(Mrs.Young, Elizabeth) from ESWS as an adoptive parent.
Thank you for sharing your story with us!
1. Please share your and your family’s story as an overview.
Russell and I have 3 children and live in Frederick, Maryland. I was born in Seoul and adopted at age 7 months
through ESWS, too. We are adopting a little boy who we are naming Hannuri (한누리).
2. How was your visit to ESWS, and was the process of adoption especially difficult at this time where there is
the COVID-19 pandemic?
I had been to ESWS before as a beneficiary for a birthland trip many years ago when I was 19 years old and I
met Dr. Kim Dukwhang. But since I was meeting my son for the first time, I was nervous and excited. The first
time I saw him in person was so special after months of seeing his pictures. I will never forget the moment
when he walked into the room.
Yes, the adoption process was more complicated due to COVID-19. The laws from the US and Korea kept
changing, and it was complicated to make plans for our work and it also made the trip very expensive. We
decided to bring our 3 children with us because the situation was so unpredictable.
Quarantine was very difficult. But now that we are out of quarantine, spending time in Seoul as a family like this
is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We are glad everyone wears masks and is careful here. My husband loves
Seoul and our children are learning so much. For myself, I love being here and wish I could stay longer.
We are fortunate because we know staying in Korea for 7 weeks is a great hardship for many families.
3. What made you decide to adopt another child from ESWS when you already have your biological kids, and
what are some good things as an adoptive parent who is one of the adoptees?
We felt we were having such a good time with our 3 children and had so much love and enough experience as
parents that we were ready to adopt a child.
As an adoptee myself, I know what it’s like to not have much information on your birth family and to feel out of
place. I have been through some challenging times in my life. I feel that any pain I experienced will have been
worth it if I can share the wisdom I’ve gained with my son. I’m a resilient and joyful person and I want to share
that with him too.
4. How do your kids feel about having another sibling through adoption?
They are very excited! They think their brother is really cute. My son is glad he won’t be the only brother
5. If you could have chosen to be adopted or not, what would you choose and why?
I can’t regret any part of my life because all of my experiences have made me who I am. I grew up in a family
that loved me. I had a lot of opportunities. I feel very fortunate. This does not mean there were no challenges
as an adoptee, especially as I got older. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like if I had grown up
here in Korea. I’ll never know. But to choose a different path means I wouldn’t have my husband, my children,
my family, and all the good things that have happened to me too.
6. What (if anything) did your parents do to keep your ethnicity/heritage alive?
My parents encouraged me to go to Korean adoptee culture camps. When I had the opportunity to travel to
Korea on a birthland trip, they supported me. And when I wanted to study abroad for a semester in college at
Yonsei University, they supported me then, too.
7. What is your personal opinion on adoption?
My personal opinion is that there should always be efforts made to protect the mother-child relationship.
Mothers everywhere deserve a lot of support and resources. If that’s not possible it would be good if the
children could stay with other relatives or at least in Korea. But if all those options have been exhausted, I think
that a loving, well-prepared and well-vetted adoptive family is the best option for a child to thrive. And adoption
can continue to be improved by listening to adoptees about their experiences.
8. Could you share any episode in your life regarding adoption?
The birthland trip I came on when I was 19, with a group of 8 other young women, profoundly affected me. We
lived together in a guesthouse and studied Korean for a month at Kyung Hee University. We visited ESWS and
saw the different programs. We escorted babies to be adopted on our flights home. It was an amazing time to
connect and realize that I did not have to be alone with my feelings as an adoptee. I don’t know if I truly
understood at the time how fortunate I was to have that opportunity, but now I do.
9. What advice would you like to give to those who may be suffering from identity issues as an adoptee?
Sometimes we feel like we need to choose either being Korean or American (or other adoptive country). But
we don’t have to choose. Being myself, being an adoptee, an “also-known-as”, and all the other things I am, is
an identity. At my age now, I embrace my struggles and complexity and am proud of who I am.
10. What do you think is the most important thing in forming a family?
Love, listening, and acceptance for who your child truly is.
11. Do you have other thoughts you would like to share?
Thank you to ESWS and especially to our son’s foster mother, Ms. Hye Jeong Choi. She is a wonderful woman
and I am forever grateful we got to meet her and see how much love and devotion she has given our son in his