On July 31, 1959, I was put on an airplane bound for the United States along with more than 90 other babies who had been orphaned or abandoned as a result of the Korean War. When we arrived in Portland, Oregon, almost 20 hours later, we were given Western names, American parents, and new cultural identities in a country that was shocked by the practice of white parents raising Asian children. Growing up as an interracial adoptee had a profound effect on who I am today. When my husband, Greg, and I decided to start our family three years ago, we chose to adopt our daughter, Eleanor, from Korea rather than give birth to a biological child.
There's much to be said for having the same DNA as your child, but the power of sharing such extraordinary life circumstances with my daughter has been an irreplaceable gift. Not only has it helped me make sense of my early losses of country, birth family, and racial identity, it has also given me an appreciation of how the success of those early Korean adoptions paved the way for thousands of children in more than 60 countries to find American homes of their own.