Here's the story of AKAP president, Krista Caniparoli-Goodwin.
I was born on March 12, 1987 with my given name of Myeongsoon Choi (명순 최) meaning bright and mild. I was born in Kyeongsangbuk-do province in Seoul, South Korea and adopted through Eastern Social Welfare Society.
From my papers, it says that my mother was dating my father and had found out she was pregnant with me. Soon after that, my father had left her and my mother ultimately made the decision as an unwed and single woman that she would give me up for adoption as she believed she couldn’t care for me properly.
From what I understand, I was placed into a foster home pretty quickly and stayed with them until I was adopted at 4 months. My foster family consisted of my foster mother, father, and two older brothers. My mom told me that when she found out they had matched, she received the picture of me and carried it with her and showed people saying she knew I was meant to be theirs once she saw my sparkly brown eyes… her words not mine. 🙂
My mom frequently told me growing up that they had some major concerns that I might not make it to the United States because of things that were happening between North and South Korea at the time.
So fast forward to 4 month old Myeongsoon Choi getting on my first ever plane ride with other Korean adoptee babies and headed to Seattle, Washington to meet my “new” family.
Here started my journey as Krista Theresa Myeongsoon Choi Caniparoli (the girl with a million names). 🙂
I grew up in Great Falls, Montana with my mom, dad, and two older brothers, who were biological to my parents. Imagine a cute little Korean baby with black hair that stuck straight up (mom had to use lots of conditioner to try to calm it down) pretty fussy, I’m sure it was very interesting in church with me. 🙂 I had mostly males on both sides of my family, one girl cousin on each side besides me. I say this because even with all of that and me being adopted and one of the few girls, I never felt different.
I mean I knew I looked different for the most part and I knew I was adopted. But I don’t think I felt different until later on in my life.
I can’t recall when the conversation came up about being adopted because my parents were so open to talking about it whenever I brought it up. I do remember that the conversations usually came up at night when I was going to bed with questions like, “who do you think I look like?” “why was I adopted?” “what do you think my life would be like there?” “do you ever think I will be able to meet them?”
Growing up in Great Falls I only knew of one other Korean adoptee. Our families would go to these meetings often, don’t ask me what happened at them because all I remember is the kids would play and the grown ups would talk. Eventually she and I would end up going to elementary to middle school together. From about first grade on she and I would do show and tell and show off our traditional hanbok for our classmates and the coming first graders.
Either I was naive or I was shielded from it, but I never really felt out of place. Like I said, I knew I looked different deep down but I never really associated myself as being Asian let alone Korean. I wasn’t exposed to the culture, food, or camps like other KADS except for a few picnics for the KADS.
In my high-school years I think is when I really started to understand my Korean-ness.
I was called Asian Persuasion, exotic, racist names and realized that in most cases I felt special and unique so much so that I would play into it in my dating years (I regret that now). When it came to the racist remarks I would then start making fun of asians (myself) first so then I could say it before someone else could. Much easier to beat them to the punchline first right?!
I had gone back and forth about wanting to meet/find my birth parents most of my life. Sometimes I wouldn’t want to because of guilt for my family that I would hurt them by searching and other times I yearned to see someone that just simply looked like me who shared DNA. After I graduated high school, I was supposed to go to Korea for my first trip back with my mom. Unfortunately, she passed before that trip could happen and while I wanted to still go, I knew it would be hard for both my dad and me.
It wasn’t until I was on social media and saw my KAD friend I talked about earlier, in Korea for her first trip, that’s the moment that finally got me to have a serious conversation with my dad about wanting us both to go. Everything aligned pretty perfectly and we were on our way to Korea. The one thing that was very important to me throughout was to make sure I was balancing my emotions and trying to respect his emotions as best I could. This would be a very emotional trip for both of us.
I am so glad we were able to take that trip because we were able to meet my foster mom, dad, and one brother and his family. My dad passed away a little over 3 years ago and ever since then I have been diving deep into my Korean culture, food, language basically everything. I am still currently trying to find my biological family, both my parents have passed away and I would be lying if I didn't say that I don't feel abandoned/orphaned again, I have my brothers and family who I love, but something just hits differently with trying to locate my biological family.
To find the only people who I look like.
Adult to Now
My first real experience of having more Asians around me was my first year in college. I was in an all-girls dorm on campus and my roommate was Japanese. We had many international students from Asia in our dorm. It was actually a really big shock being surrounded by so many “real” Asians and then there was me. I honestly don’t know if the people around me would have known that I struggled with that a lot because I always came off as the outgoing, happy, confident self. And if I’m being really honest with myself, I still struggle with not feeling enough.
If you talk to me I might have already told you that I don’t feel Korean enough or American enough.
This really became apparent to me after my first trip back to Korea with my dad.
I’m so glad that there are more resources out there now and that we have so many KAD groups because I feel like I have had such a strong connection with many KADS knowing some of the things I went through as a younger Krista weren’t all in my head and that there were others who had similar feelings and experiences as I did. I’m an open book and always here to chat (probably could have written a novel on here 🙂) if you need someone to talk to.
If I could give one piece of advice: Keep sharing your story with the world, the world deserves to hear your story!
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!