mama mio are celebrating EVERYDAY MIRACLES this month and sharing some amazing stories of how little babies came into this world!
Hundreds of thousands of babies are born around the world every single second however what happens when a baby isn’t able to be raised by their parents? In the best case scenario, these orphaned children are hopefully adopted by a loving family that will bring them home and raise these children in their families.
We interviewed our Marketing Manager, Jinny Olney, to understand the adoption process and see what it felt like being raised as an adopted child.
How old were you when you were adopted?
I was adopted when I was 4 months old from South Korea. I was a nice chubby little baby with a sprout of hair on top of my head. My parents have always celebrated our ‘gotcha day’ too which is the day when they came to pick me up in South Korea!
Have you always known you were adopted? If not, how did your parents tell you?
My parents have always been open and honest with us about where we came from (i.e. not from a stalk)! It’s really strange because as a child you don’t really think that you are different to anyone else until someone teases you and points it out!
My parents always read us books about ‘where did you come from’ which were focused on adoption and being different. As long as I can remember, they were always very open to us about where we came from!
When I was a moody teenager and I used to get into an argument with my parents I would say to them ‘I want to go back to my real parents’. I think I made my mum cry the first time I said that (yes I was horrible!). After a few times, she didn’t really care so much!
Do you have any siblings?
Yes, I have one brother who is two years younger than me. He was also adopted from South Korea however we are not blood related.
The question that probably annoys a fraternal (not identical) twin most is, ‘Why don’t you look the same if you are twins?’. For me, the question that I often get asked which perplexes me is, ‘Is your brother biologically related to you?’. What people sometimes don’t to understand is that you don’t get to ‘choose’ the child you want to adopt. It’s not like a surrogate who is asked to bring a child into the world for you. My brother and I are two years apart in age so it would have to be a real coincidence if we were actually blood-related!
How did your parents find the process for adoption? Was there anything that stood in their way?
I think it was a lot easier to adopt a child in the 80s than it is today. That being said, the process wasn’t ‘easy’ and it did cost them a lot of money too!
I know that they had people from the adoption agency come to visit them to see if they were ‘capable’ parents and if our home situation would be suitable to raise a child. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to have someone question you as ‘worthy’ parents, especially when many other couples are able to have a baby naturally without anyone prying into their business.
My parents also built a great network around them with families that have adopted children (mostly Korean). We grew up together learning about our culture, learning how to make delicious Korean food (very similar to Japanese!) and celebrating important Korean days. To this day, we are all still friends and still often get together to celebrate (although now it’s for weddings and christenings!).
Did you ever experience any hardships while growing up?
I grew up in Australia (I’ve only just recently moved over to the UK) and it’s such a multi-cultural country that sometimes I forgot that I looked different from my parents.
When we first started school, there weren’t many Asian children (although there were a lot of other nationalities) so that did feel a little strange. I remember being teased by a boy in the 6th grade when I was in primary school and that’s the first time I guess I felt really different. Other than that, I had a great life growing up with my parents in Australia! We spent time at the beach, learnt how to surf (badly on my behalf) and spent a lot of times outdoors playing with kids in our neighbourhood. It’s a lot different to the life I could have had in Korea where study is really important and there is so much pressure to do well academically!
People often say things like ‘ni how’ (hello in Chinese) which I find really offensive – not all Asian people are Chinese! I’ve got a good Aussie accent so I often reply back to them and say ‘Sorry, I didn’t hear you, what did you say?’ and the look on their faces is pretty funny!
Have you ever met/do you know your birth parents?
Once you turn 18 I believe that you are able to go searching for your parents. My parents took us to live in South Korea when we were 9 and 11 to let us experience our culture. As part of this, my mum went looking for our birth mothers (often the father’s weren’t listed on the adoption papers because they are likely to have to birth out of marriage).
Unfortunately it’s not that easy to find your birth mother as they often had to give up their children because their families didn’t approve of their relationships or they gave birth out of marriage. They might have gone on to get married to someone else and potentially changed their names so it’s hard to track them down.
We did get an opportunity to meet our foster mothers though. These women looked after us from the time we were given up to the time that my parents came to collect me. They were really lovely women who looked after the adopted children like they were their own.
I would have to say that I’m not that curious about finding my birth parents. My parents are all that I’ve known my whole life and I don’t see them as being my ‘adopted parents’. I’ve had the most amazing upbringing and they have cared for me like any normal parents would so I’m just grateful to have one set of parents!