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November National Adoption Month: Grace Gaydosh answers questions you might have been too shy to ask
November 15, 2016
For over 20 years, National Adoption Month has been celebrated in November. Many local agencies and adoptive family groups arrange events during the month to raise awareness, especially for children in foster care who are waiting for permanent families in a different country.
While adoption-related issues are very important, the main focus of this month is to recognize adoption and the kids and teens who were adopted or are waiting for a permanent home.
Fourteen years ago, I was one of those kids.
On October 13, 2002, I was brought to the United States from South Korea. I was only a baby, around 5 months old. My entire new family, along with many of their friends, came to the BWI Airport late at night and waited for me to arrive. This day was very emotional for my soon-to-be parents. They were receiving a baby girl to add to their family. Of course, they were excited to see and meet me, but they were also very nervous.
For my part, at 5 months old, I didn’t really know what was going on. When I look back at that day, I can’t really remember anything that happened. However, my mom recorded it all on her video camera so that one day I could look back on it and see it. When I watched the video, I was shocked at the number of people who came to support my family and meet me. It was like a wedding reception.
My brother, Greg, was only four years old when I came home from Korea. Having a new sibling can be a huge change. He was no longer the only child, but it can also be exciting to have a younger sister. That was his take on it. From the moment he saw me, he wouldn’t stop trying to making me laugh. When my family finally brought me home from the airport, Greg spent all of his time with me trying to entertain me. He ran into walls or made funny faces. He was definitely happy to have a sister.
When he got older and was in high school, he wrote a paper all about me (his sister) being adopted. He felt proud to have an adopted sister, and that made me feel happy.
When my mom first laid eyes on me, she cried: not sad tears, rather tears of joy. My mom couldn’t have anymore children after my brother, so she really wanted to adopt. She was the first one who got to hold me and didn’t want to give me to anyone else to hold. That’s pretty normal new mother behavior.
My dad, as well, cried when he first saw me. I was, after all, going to be his “little girl.” And I am.
Adopted kids can be in the position where people want to know about their experiences, but maybe they are afraid to ask.
So ask me!
When did you find out you were adopted?
I guess I have just always known. My parents told me when I was younger but I don’t really remember it. My family and I celebrate my “Gotcha Day” on October 13. That’s the day I was brought to the United States. When I was little, I celebrated my “Gotcha Day” by going to Chuck E. Cheese’s or eating dessert with my family. Now that I am older, I don’t really do anything special for it; however, my family still acknowledges the day. I celebrate my birthday, too. That means I get twice as much love. So no cool secret adoption story- that’s mostly for the movies.
Why were you put up for adoption?
I get this question a lot. Some people are scared to ask because they don’t know how to. A lot of people ask, “Did your birth parents not want you anymore?” No, that is definitely not the reason. My birth parents could not afford to take care of me. Parenthood was not feasible for them. However, they didn’t give me up and put me in a foster home. They put me up for adoption to be placed with a permanent family. It was meant for me to be adopted.
Do you want to learn more about Korea and your origin? What emotions and feelings do you experience and have they changed throughout your childhood?
I did when I was little and wanted to learn more about it. My parents took me to a Korean culture camp where I met with other kids like me, and we learned about our culture and played games. I liked going to the camp when I was young, but as I started to get a little bit older, my feelings towards it changed. Around the age of 8 or 9, I stopped going to the camp and didn’t really want to go to any other camps or activities that involved my origin.
Do you ever think about wanting to travel to South Korea and find your birth parents?
My parents have always encouraged me to go when I’m 18 or older. I have always thought about going back to see what Korea is like. It would be cool to compare it to the United States. I also have always thought about finding my birth parents and meeting them. My parents only got so much information at the time of my adoption, so I don’t know too much.
Is it hard being different from your peers, and, if so, how do you deal with it?
Honestly, it isn’t really hard at all for me. Maybe at times I feel a little different, but all my friends treat me the same. Not many people know that I am adopted, so they don’t say anything. I’m no different than kids with separated families or kids with stepparents. We all have different kinds of families.
What is your name in Korean? Is there a special meaning to your name?
My name in Korean is Eun Jee Kim. Eun means “grace” and Jee means “wise.” There’s a rule in Korea where if you have already have a boy then you receive a girl, vice versa. So, when my parents decided to adopt, they knew they would be getting a girl. They had always wanted to and planned to name me Grace. It turned out, my name was already Grace!