My name is Ellen. I was born in Gunsan, South Korea and grew up on Vashon Island, WA. I was adopted from Korea at 9 months old. Even though I grew up in a predominantly white community, there was a unique amount of Korean adoptees on Vashon Island. I thought it was normal to be a Korean adoptee until I went to high school in the city of Seattle, where I then became one of a handful of Asians and the only Korean adoptee.
Often I forget I’m Korean until I look into the mirror or when I am surrounded with other Korean adoptees. When I’m with other non-adoptees of any ethnicity I feel less Korean. I definitely identify more with my mother’s (white) culture than with my Korean culture. By law, I’m Irish-American, with dual citizenship to Ireland and I have an Irish name. I have one older sibling who was also adopted but he was born in WA and he is bi-racial African American. Our parents divorced when I was 6 years old, so my brother and I grew up in a single family household under my mother’s care. I work in the medical device industry as a mechanical engineer in the San Francisco Bay area.
In 2006, I moved to California after living in Boston, MA for five years. I have enjoyed living in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past 5 years where there is much more diversity than I could have hoped for. I’ve met a lot of adoptees who have inspired me to go back to Korea. I was actually able to visit for the first time in August of 2010. I feel really lucky to have been raised with diversity in my family which has taught me to keep an open mind. In 2007, I joined a local Korean adoptee group and an adoptee mentoring group. I now help direct the Adoptee Mentor Program (AMP) which is the charter program of the Mixed Roots Foundation. Not only I help direct the program – I also mentor in the program. I currently mentor a child who was adopted from China. I hope to continue to raise more awareness and support for adoptees and their families through AMP and the Mixed Roots Foundation.