Community

It’s strange to think of where I was less than ten years ago. I was a generally happy person with a lot of friends, but quite lonely. Not lonely in the sense of lacking companionship, but more like someone without people close who understood. Who understood the complexities of adoption. Of what it’s like to be a person of color. What it’s like to be a person of color in the Deep South. Of how it feels to be reunited with a birth family a world away. Of what it’s like to always be the minority. Or how it feels to constantly be the only Asian in the room.

Because of that, I set out on a quest. When I began seeking Korean adoptee community for the first time 8 years ago, I almost gave up. I could find nothing locally here in Nashville and I had no support. No groups existed like those I saw in New York or California and I didn’t know where to begin to try to find that. Maybe it just needed to be started, but I certainly had no idea how to be the one responsible for that sort of undertaking.

Thankfully, I didn’t give up, but just expanded my search. When I couldn’t find anything in Tennessee, I widened my prospects to include the Southeast and eventually, the entire country. I traveled to conferences and made friends. I met my husband – a Korean adoptee – and when we married and he moved to Nashville, we joked that the state’s KAD population doubled. We began a blog and through the power of the internet, we were able to form our own community of support, though we still lacked physical proximity. We’ve met some of our best friends in the world.

The importance of this community in my life has been underscored a million times in these last several years. In the first conference I attended where I was surrounded by people just like me – who looked like me and shared similar life experiences – and I was so overwhelmed by it all that I just sobbed the entire weekend. It was cathartic. To finally find the community that, for so long, I didn’t even know that I needed. I was again reminded of its importance in a recent FaceTime with a KAD friend, who began as a blog reader and became a dearest Seoul sister. My phone rang and connected the video chat, and both of our faces popped up. “Heyyy,” I sang, met by her, “Oh my God, we have the same hair!” Wow, how powerful are these mirrors that I lacked for so long, but now take for granted! Yes, something as simple as matching jet-black, stick-straight hair can speak straight to a lonely soul.

I went without these imperatives for so long, but now I am blessed to be surrounded by them. In our daily interactions online and in my own home, where my husband and I could be mistaken for twins. And now, yes, even in a local adoptee group. Reminded of the things I so take for granted now, I always want to do my part to provide opportunities for other adoptees to find these same “a-ha!” moments. We recently kickstarted a local Tennessee KAD group, which grew to 30 members within a few days. We are currently planning our first meet-up for next month. If you’re local, I hope you will reach out and join us. If you’re not, I hope you will take the scary step to find your local KAD group, reach out, and simply join them for a meal. Don’t underestimate how much it could change your life.


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© We the Lees, 2018. All Rights Reserved

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