This passport was used only once and has long since expired. It was issued to me when I was five months old and bears my Korean name which I no longer use. I was born in Songtan, South Korea to a Korean single mother and an absent American father—a circumstance so common that the term Amerasian was created to describe children like me—and was immediately placed for adoption. I was adopted as an infant by an American family and have since lived most of my life in the United States. I used this passport only to arrive in the U.S. and I became a naturalized citizen shortly after. My parents changed my name to help me assimilate, not only to my new country, but to my new family. International adoptees don’t fit the model of an immigrant held in most of our imaginations—the process my parents underwent to apply for my American citizenship demanded only a fraction of the labor that most immigrants face. International adoptees do experience cultural transformation and erasure that is common among immigrants, but adoptees are distinct because they undergo these experiences alone—my family didn’t immigrate, only I did. In the second half of the 20th century, over 200,000 Korean children were sent overseas for adoption and many have come to view adoptees as a diaspora. In 2010, the Korean government agreed to grant dual citizenship to all Korean adoptees who return to the country for a short time. Perhaps I will eventually hold a new Korean passport, one that bears my American name.  

Place(s): Korea

– Ericka

Relationship:  Im/migrant who arrived as a child Im/migrant who arrived as a child