Andrew was born in Seoul, South Korea and is currently employed as a Human Resources Manager. This is his 8th year as a Mentor in Spence-Chapin’s Adoption Mentorship Program. Andrew looks forward to continually deepening his mentorship relationships with all of the returning teens, and to be a resource providing support for those struggling with their adoption identities. He also enjoys just being a friendly voice and a supportive ear.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND?
My identical twin brother and I were adopted from South Korea together when we were children by the adoption agency Save the Children to a couple from Boston, MA. My parents would then adopt a third child from South Korea, our sister.
HOW DID YOUR FAMILY SHARE YOUR ADOPTION STORY WITH YOU?
Not too much was known about our backstory from Korea since a lot of paperwork was lost when we first came over. Speaking for myself, my adoption identity and story did not really resonate with me while growing up. Being in a mixed-race family of three Korean children would obviously highlight that we were adopted since our parents are not Korean. I do know that my parents held unto records that they were able to obtain and that both my brother and sister have looked at all of the adoption records we do have, but that has not been a choice that I have made yet.
WHAT INTERESTING STORIES DID YOUR PARENTS SHARE WITH YOU?
When my parents decided to adopt two identical twin Korean boys, the logistics of having two brand new children brought into their lives that look exactly the same definitely caused some issues. Since we did not speak any English, our new names did not exactly register when they were trying to address either boy. This would be particularly challenging in the first bath that they gave us. Two identical twin boys that did not respond to English names naked in a bathtub is pretty much a recipe for disaster. So, my parents being practical medical professionals, decided to label us with a gigantic “A” or “M” on the back of our necks. And I am pretty sure we were color coded for the first several months that we lived in Boston, with one boy always in Red and the other always wearing Blue. To this day, they insist those were our favorite colors.
WHAT MYTHS OR MISCONCEPTIONS DID YOU ENCOUNTER AS AN ADOPTEE?
I honestly did not face a lot of questions about being adopted. More people were fascinated about me being an identical twin. I guess the only heritage questions I receive in my professional life are when I meet people for the first time that I have corresponded with who are intrigued that a fast talking New Englander with a French last name and no accent turns out to be a Korean guy when we meet face to face.
WHEN DID YOU GET CONNECTED TO SPENCE-CHAPIN’S MENTORSHIP PROGRAM?
I entered the Mentorship Program in 2013 with the high school program at that time. In my years in the program, I have had the joy of seeing our young teenagers grow and blossom into young adults. I mean several of our former mentees are now mentors in the program, and one of them highlighted adoption in a TED talk.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A MENTOR?
I have been able to not only connect and see our young teenagers grow up, I have also had the joy of seeing my fellow Mentors go through their own adoption journey. All of us adult adoptees were able to share our adoption identities with the teens, all of the parents and with each other. The support and relationships I have built with the Mentors, teens, and parents over the years has truly impacted my own life positively.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU SHARE WITH YOUNG ADOPTEES IN THE MENTORSHIP PROGRAM?
Don’t be intimidated by the title of the Spence-Chapin Adoption Mentorship Program. We are really just here to get everyone to think about adoption identities and share all of our unique adoption journeys. We have days in which we encourage people to listen and if comfortable to share experiences. But we also just have fun activities (Karaoke, Painting, Zoo, Day at the Park) which we just get to be in an environment that all of us can relate to each other since all of us are adopted.
Spence-Chapin’s Adoption Mentorship Program is for adopted middle and high school students. Our program empowers adoptees through friendship, building self-confidence and challenging them to discover and understand their adoption identities and experiences. To learn more about joining the Program as a Mentee or Mentor, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up for our FREE Mentorship Webinar!