Corey Rickmers (이연호)
Adopted to: USA
Current residence: Rockville, MD
Growing up as an adoptee is an experience to say the least. You know you're different. You look at a family photo and the only Asian faces you see are yours, a sibling’s perhaps, and that's generally it. It doesn't mean it was hard, but it doesn't mean it was easy. Everything you do is judged by others who in turn use this to determine how to "define" you. You'll either go with the flow or be hardened by it to a degree, but you'll definitely be stronger than most around you for it. I never knew other adoptees really well outside my sister, Kara, and we were never exposed to Korean culture, though that was more due to living in central Kentucky with limited access to such programs. I am and was raised as an American and really define myself as an American, and not Korean in terms of culture. Racially, I'll always be Korean, but culturally, I'm American and I do not mind it. It always felt like the world around me had a bigger issue with it than I did.
In my opinion, a Korean adoptee makes you a child of three worlds: how you are seen by your new home and family, by the country that you came from, and from your own perception. To Koreans, from what I can tell and from what I've been told secondhand, I'm expected to be Korean not just racially, but also culturally. To do otherwise makes me a social pariah to an extent. To my friends, family, and country (in the US), I'm always Korean, and of course there are a few jokes made about me being a very 'white' Korean, I'll cop to it and even admit that I've made the same joke. But as for my own perception, I feel like I'm just me. I've always seen myself as an American, in terms of who I am as a person and culturally. But I know that I am Korean racially. People sometimes define me by how 'white' I act, but I do not know what it means to be 'white,' I am just acting like me. I am pretty chill and tend to not care, but at times it does grate on the nerves. How am I supposed to be Korean? Do I need to have a backlog of KPOP bands in my playlist? Should I look like a dude from BTS? Do I need to be god-tier at League of Legends? Should I only eat kimchi and bulgogi? Sometimes I ask myself why my actions define how much of something I am and why I need to prove something or why people need me to act some way to be something in their eyes.
At the end of the day, you are a person on a unique journey that is yours and each person's journey is different. I think you are not defined by just being an adoptee and you should only be defined by you. Who you are and who you see yourself as can only come from within. I am Corey Rickmers and I am me. What you see is what you get. If you have to try and define me by something, that's your issue, not mine.
Author: Corey Rickmers
Edited by: Kara Rickmers