Who’s Julia?

Sometimes, I ask myself this very same question…

I was born in Seoul, Korea on May 29th 1983 to young Christian unwed mother. I was named by her: 구지혜 Or, so they say. Nothing is proven, nothing is sacred. I was adopted.

I was adopted by a Jewish white couple in New York, USA who had desired a little flat-faced band-aide to cure their infertile wounds. Four years prior, this couple had given birth to a bouncing baby girl, Sara – but had suffered miscarriages ever since. I was wanted and needed by them. They renamed me, dressed me up in pretty clothes, and gave me a thorough and expensive White education.

My parents soon discovered that this asian adoption deal was not what they set out for. Their “colorblindness” theory backfired as they were exposed to new racism they thought was long gone. They stepped up, though, and started on a path that was revolutionary at the time. They learned to like Korean food (or so they pretended), they bought some hanboks, some asian dolls, and hired an asian nanny. They thrust me into set-up photos with Korean “friends” and made every effort to embrace my lost culture. My mother searched – for the mother I once had. She demanded more information, hired Korean “investigators” to find her for me. Her efforts produced a photo, I now hold dear. And a name, I know is a lie, of “Grace” for a woman who wears my face…. worlds away. I rebelled then against all my parents efforts, but now I adoringly admire their courage.

I drift between feeling lost and lonely in this white world in which I was raised. Homesick, sometimes. Full of fantasy and wishes. Sometimes unable to decipher reality from make-believe. I drift from gratitude to feeling victimized. Mostly, I find myself somewhere lost, in between.

A fully paid college education, a brand new car…. was this fate? Was this what Grace was dreaming of, the day she said goodbye to me?

*Photo Note: The header photo is of me, falling asleep, on the subway in Korea in 2005 – my last day of my first trip back since my adoption. When I first started riding the subway, I would desperately search the faces of each passenger to see if anyone looked like me…. could they be a relative?

15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Grace  |  December 1, 2006 at 2:40 pm

    I was just wondering if your birth mother’s name “Grace” wasn’t an interpretation of her Korean name, like mine is. The character “Un” or “Eun” meaning “grace” was often used as part of a girl’s name. Eunhae, Eunshil, Unshim, SaeUn…

  • 2. poundpup  |  December 19, 2006 at 12:45 pm

    Hi Julia,

    Came across your blog the other day and liked it. As admin of poundpuplegacy.org a new community website for adoptees, fosterees and natural parents, with forums, blogs and info pages, I added a link to your blog and made a feed of your weblog available to our site. Please pay us a visit and if you like our website, please place a link back.


  • 3. Amy  |  August 28, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    I just came upon your blog. I was adopted from Guatemala 22 years ago. We have similar experiences. I was required to do an internship for my program in college and just decided to intern at an adoption agency. I figured, hey I’m adopted, this will be easy. Little did I know I’d start exploring my own adoption, fall in love with the field, want to make changes and eventually end up working there… Anyway, I love your blog. You should update more:)

  • 4. Ellie  |  December 10, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    Grace, reading this has really touched me. I’m Korean myself but over the years have made friends with two Korean girls who were adopted as children – one from Australia and the other from the Netherlands (but is currently studying in Aus). The stories they’ve told me are similar to yours, and I think perhaps these feelings may be shared by them.

    After having done volunteer work at an orphanage in Korea…all I can say that in the end, I’m glad that your adoption worked out well, that you were taken into a loving home. The feelings of being lost will, I hope, fade with time, but writing about them till they do to help sort them out is a very good idea 🙂

  • 5. Allison  |  February 8, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Beautiful writing. I love this blog. You give me so much to think about as a Korean TRA.

  • 6. Vincent Kuneen  |  March 1, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    deep dude..very deep

  • 7. Jane  |  May 20, 2008 at 3:10 am

    Julia I’m thinking of you and Praying for you…I love your writing

  • 8. Becca  |  May 28, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Happy Birthday. I think of you often. You are loved a lot.

    Becca (onni)

  • 9. Sarang  |  May 30, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Hi Julia
    I moved to USA 5 years ago from Korea because of my husband’s job. I’m still having hard time living in here because of language problem. 😦
    I was curious about the photo above when I came your blog. The guy with glasses looks so serious or upset. 🙂

  • 10. Margie  |  August 13, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    I miss you, Julia. I miss you so very much.

  • 11. surmount1124  |  November 13, 2008 at 11:37 am

    I miss you Julia
    You mean a lot to me

  • 12. jawa137  |  May 29, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Missing you, Julia. Missing you so much.

  • 13. Korean Adoptee in Korea  |  January 12, 2010 at 3:48 am

    Hi Julia,

    You’re writing is so… direct. I really like it.

    Check out my blog, if you have time,


    about my time in Korea.

    Good luck.


  • 14. Yossi Bar-ne-a  |  October 7, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    May I ask how do you know Prof. Librescu ?
    He was a lecturer of mine, a really great soul, and brain.

  • 15. carbohydrates  |  July 18, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Thirdly, there is no losing your lunch money.


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