When someone new joins Boston Korean Adoptees one of the first questions people ask is, “How did you find out about BKA?”. It’s an interesting question because no one has really found a great way of advertising our existence. So what brings me here? Strangely, the answer for me is K-dramas.
If you’ve ever watched a K-drama (and if you haven’t, I have suggestions!), then you’re probably familiar with the theme of destiny or “fated love”. While I’ve never been a believer in such things, perhaps I need to rethink my stance.
Growing up, I didn’t know much about Korea, but the place I envisioned was constructed from a few grainy snapshots of Seoul that the adoption agency had provided. In my mind, Korea was permanently frozen circa 1986: a room with rows of cribs, an empty playground, a city block displaying signs in a foreign alphabet. So, when a friend introduced me to K-dramas, I was fascinated by a modern Korea that bared little similarity to my mental image. I also found the crazy plot twists, cliffhangers, and fairy-tale endings to be the perfect antidote to the stress of graduate school. In short, I quickly became addicted.
K-dramas made me want to learn more about Korea, but, at the time it seemed unrelated to being an adoptee. Looking back, I notice that many of the K-dramas I watched featured plot lines somehow related to adoption. For example, “My Princess” is about an adoptee in Korea learning that she is actually the secret heir of Korean royalty. (I’m not the only one that imagined this scenario as a kid, right?) However, I remained oblivious to these connections.
Eventually, fate must have grown tired of subtle hints, because dramafever.com began suggesting that I watch a documentary about a Korean adoptee, “AKADan”. This was my first experience seeing an adult adoptee telling their story. I was shocked to hear my own thoughts said out loud, by a complete stranger, whose life was in so many ways different than my own. Even more shocking was that adult adoptees gathered by the hundreds and held conferences together!
Coincidentally, at that time a work conference sent me to Japan, and I seized the opportunity to visit Korea for the first time since leaving as a baby. After returning to Boston, I found myself wishing I knew more. I googled “boston Korea” and found Boston Korean Adoptees, Inc. at the top of the list. It hadn’t occurred to me that other Korean adoptees would be meeting here, the place I’d lived for six years already. I looked to see when the next event was being held, and was shocked to find that there was a group meeting that very evening to discuss “AKADan” of all things!
While normally an introvert, and pretty hesitant about meeting a bunch of strangers, I figured I should give it a try. After all, what were the odds that I had already happened to see the film they were discussing? It was clearly meant to be. To my surprise, meeting other Korean adoptees wasn’t intimidating or awkward. Instead, it reminded me of traveling to a foreign country and meeting a fellow traveler. Although we had only just met, we spoke the same language and had traveled similar journeys, making it feel as though we were long lost friends finally reconnecting.
My fate was ultimately sealed when I learned at the meeting that BKA was holding its own conference the following week. In less than 24 hours I had discovered BKA, attended a book club, and signed up for the conference, and a few short months later I found myself running for the BKA board. It was whirlwind romance worthy of a K-drama. While I’ve always been a skeptic, I’m thankful that K-dramas and destiny have brought me here today.
P.S. I’m still hooked on K-dramas, so… does anyone want to watch one together?