Adoptees of Korea: Abby Rodgers

Name: Abby Rodgers
Adopted to: United States
Current residence: Rochester, New York 

 

I was born Oh Jee Eun, in South Korea. I have no recollection of the country that birthed me. I was adopted at five months old; flown to New York and raised in America by an engineer and a school teacher. The only information I have fits on a few pieces of paper that accompanied me on my journey to my new home. These papers tell me that my biological parents worked and met in a market and that I was the result of a brief liaison. I was put up for adoption due to a stigma involving unwed single mothers. 

I grew up in a small town in the suburbs of Rochester, New York. The town is about six hours from New York City and three hours from Toronto, Canada by car. It is one of those places where everyone knows you or knows someone that knows you.

Growing up, I always knew that I looked different from my parents and many of my friends, but I identified with my adopted culture. There were several adopted Korean children in Rochester. Most of us were adopted through the same agency, Love the Children. Through the agency and a local Korean church, we were able to experience a taste of Korean culture. For several summers they held a Korean culture camp for adoptees. The camp was named Camp Chingu or Friends Camp. Here we learned some Hangul, how to cook many Korean dishes, and read stories about our motherland. At the time I was not really interested in learning about my origins. I am now so grateful now that I had that opportunity. 

We would also celebrate the day I came to America every year. Somewhat like a birthday, we called it “Airplane Day.” This day served as a way to remember where I came from but also as a reminder of my transition to my new life. I often think of what “Korean me” would have been like. The person that I would have become had I not been adopted. 

I believe that my sense of wonder and adventure was instilled in me from birth. I started my life on a journey and am forever seeking new ways to learn about different people and cultures. This curiosity led me to study abroad in France. I lived there for four and a half years and it was a pivotal time in my life where I met some of my dearest friends and really discovered myself.

 

Someday, I hope to return to the country where I was born, to learn about my birth culture, and discover the “Korean Me”.

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