Updated: Feb 19, 2022
Here's the story of AKAP participant, David S.
I was born as Il Young Chang in South Korea sometime around April of 1969. I was dropped off as a baby in a basket across the street from an orphanage on Cheju do Island that specialized in adoptions for military families.
I was adopted at 2 years old to a career Navy seaman and his Filipino wife. I grew up in Southern California and Southern Oregon most of my adolescence. Throughout most of my early childhood, I was abused by my mother, both physically and emotionally. She had undiagnosed / untreated Bipolar Disorder.
I grew up thinking that I was my mother's natural son, even though kids called me "Jap" and "Chink" (mostly in Southern Oregon where I was only one of three Asian students).
I never knew the truth until I turned 12 years old.
My father drove me to Portland to get my naturalization papers and when he was asked if he was my natural father, he simply replied, "No." and didn't even look at me. The drive home was long and we never spoke of it again until I was 20 years old.
My father gave me my adoption papers when I got out of active duty from the U.S. Army. He said, "Here, you might need these." He was reluctant to speak of it and my mother never could tell the truth about anything.
Adult to Now
Since then, I have worked over 30 different jobs and finally got my Bachelor's Degree in Business Management. I got a decent job at a local non-profit in Portland and have been there for the past 16 years. I got married, stayed married, and had two daughters (one who is 21 years old and one who is nearly 15 years old).
In 2003, I was deployed to Iraq while serving in the Army National Guard. I survived the deployment, but my past was stirred up and it resulted in a complex PTSD service-connected disability. Sometimes I feel like the depression and anxiety will be the end of me. I struggle with intimacy and connection with others, including my family.
Being adopted, I think I missed out on learning what real connection is—like what you would get from a loving mother and father.
My parents did the best they could, but they failed to provide good examples of healthy loving relationships.
I submitted my DNA sample, but I haven't received any leads regarding birth mother or father.
Part of me wants to know, part of me doesn't.
I feel like despite all this, I'm still a success story and I've made the best of my life. I could have easily ended up as a homeless street urchin in South Korea, shunned all my life.
Sharing your story
We've opened up the opportunity to our community to share their Korean adoptee experience and personal story. As we share these stories, we hope that more people feel like they belong, they are not alone, and that they have a story worth sharing.
Want to share your story? Let us know!