Perspectives of Adoption: The Adoption taboo

by Katie Jacoby

For some reason, asking me about my adoption experience seems to be taboo for most people. I've never really understood this - Perhaps it's because I'm a different race than my adoptive parents, and race is another subject people seem to want to avoid. Maybe it's because they assume it's a touchy subject for me. (Which it's not.) Or maybe it just comes down to the simple explanation that they don't know enough about adoption to inquire about it. Whatever the reason, I'm proud to share my adoption story, and hopefully telling it will inspire more awareness, and answer some of those unasked questions.

Katie and her family.

Katie and her family.

I was born in Pusan, South Korea in 1986. (Pusan is about 200 miles from Seoul, that's the equivalent of NYC to Baltimore.) To the best of my knowledge, I lived with a foster mother for the first 4 months of my life. I don't have any information about my birth mother or father, which could be why it's so easy to talk about them...there isn't much to say. I can only assume that I was orphaned and put up for adoption before entering a foster home for that very short time, until I was adopted by Irish Catholic (read: white) parents in Annapolis, Maryland.

I came over by plane in April of 1987. Apparently, I got to sit with the pilot, and the flight attendants loved me! My adoptive parents (from here on out, I'll refer to them as my parents) anxiously awaited my arrival at BWI airport with my older brother (also adopted from South Korea as an infant), neighbors, friends, and family.

Of course, I have no recollection of my time in Korea. So far, this story is what I have come to know through old photos and stories that have been told to me. What I do have memories of are a "normal" childhood, in a loving household with my two brothers, mom, and dad. (And cats...there were several cats throughout the years!)

Like many parents who adopt, mine struggled with infertility before they adopted my older brother and me. Less than two years after I arrived from Korea though, they were blessed to have a biological son of their own. 

Our family photos might garner questions for people who don't know my family. When we were kids, strangers' first assumptions might be that we were friends. As we got into our teenage years, one might assume I was a girlfriend or something. In fact, my younger brother and I were walking in the mall together once, and someone did ask us if we were a couple. I looked at the woman incredulously - how awkward!? But how was she supposed to know he was my brother? After all, he is white. Maybe people assumed my mom was a nanny when they saw her out with 2 Asian babies, and a white baby.

When people find out my older brother and I were adopted, 99% of the time, the next question that follows is are we "related"? Biologically, no. But in the sense of two people having a relationship to one another? Of course! He's my brother.

What about my friends? How did being adopted shape my personal life? Well, two of my best friends were also adopted from Korea. That was how we first met. Our parents were involved with adoption events in the area, and connected with other families who adopted from Korea. But we've remained friends after all these years because we are just compatible. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with adoption.

Katie with her best friends.

Katie with her best friends.

Did anything written here make you uncomfortable? I would think not, because why would they? I guess what I'm trying to say is, for me, adoption isn't a taboo subject. It's just part of my life and being that I've grown up with, known, and accepted for as long as I can remember. My family is my family, my friends are my friends, and I've never experienced anything other than this. 

Adoption has been such a beautiful part of my life - In fact, it's given me life. A life I never would have had otherwise.