I had an epiphany a couple years at Korean Heritage Camp for Adoptive Families, that many adoptees do not feel that their adoption was an empowering experience. Every conference, camp and counseling session we go to often focuses on the ‘challenges’ of being an adoptee, and I realized something- being adopted is the single most empowering event that has happened in my life. I came to this conclusion after a camper asked me “How did you find your purpose?” I realized that my answer to the camper’s question was very much rooted in my adoption.
I’m an urban designer and planner by trade, and I fell into my profession largely because I wanted to find a solution to reduce and alleviate poverty. I consider myself the beautiful result of poverty. Some of my earliest memories are sleeping on the streets of Seoul, South Korea as a child; and that intimate experience with the harshness of public places has informed my passion for safe spaces that elevate all people. My childhood experience has created a keen sensitivity to vulnerable populations; and urban design and planning leverages all of my talents and skills to make a positive impact in communities around the world. The saddest memory I have has become the most powerful force in my life. Being adopted, I was given the privilege to be in a position where I can help others. I feel an extraordinary amount of purpose when I have the privilege to design a wonderful place for people to enjoy.
I realized that parents have the amazing opportunity to plant this seed in your adoptee’s mind: that they need to think about how their adoption empowers them. What is it about their story that can fuel a passion, a career, a life that is purposeful and filled with hope and resilience?