A Letter From Our President
This will be my last president's letter, as I will be stepping down from the Also-Known-As Board of Directors at the end of this term.
Being on the Board has been an incredible privilege, an opportunity unlike any other: to have a hand in building the adoptee community that I would like to be part of. After attending my first amazing event connecting with adoptees, I knew I wanted to be part of a strong community and recognized that meant putting in my own effort.
Selfishly, the first event I ever organized was to show a documentary that I wanted to see and to hear the filmmaker's insights: In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee. As an Also-Known-As representative, I was able to reach out to director Deann Borshay Liem and get her to agree to join us by Skype (before Zoom days!) at the event. So it was, over the years since, that Also-Known-As allowed us on the Board to open doors and pull together discussions to create spaces for adoptees to have their voices heard. Fittingly, one of our last events this year is co-sponsoring the showing of Deann's latest film, Geographies of Kinship, on PBS on May 19.
By the time the programming year ends in July, we'll have put on about 150 public events and 90 mentorship events during the past 6 years. There have been so many exceptional memories and moments that we shared with NYC and online, and with the generous help of leaders and orgs from the global adoptee community. To name just a few: the Adoptee Film-a-Thon, Milton Washington's Afro-Asian Futurism gallery show, Queer Adoptee Art retrospective, Glenn Morey's Side x Side art installation at the Waterfall Gallery, Olympian Marissa Brandt discussion, 6 huge holiday parties (the Board even pulled it together online in 2020!), Forget Me Not movie screening and director interview, Adoptees and Black Lives Matter discussion, unprecedented Transgender Adoptee panel, Deported Adoptee panel and video interview series, the just-happened Adoptee Hip Hop Concert, so many fantastic discussions, writing workshops, and art sessions covering identity, birth mothers, race, DNA, birth search and reunion, immigration, and much more with amazing facilitators and guest lecturers (last one of this year on research on adoptee heritage camps!), adoptive parent series, 4 giant BBQs in Prospect Park (back this year, don't miss it!), 3 Adoptee Excellence Scholarship winners (a record 117 applicants this year, stay tuned for the winner!), and lots and lots of socials.
Throughout it all, the key to everything was the people doing all the work, the best people I've ever met: my fellow Board members. One would think after a long day of meetings at the day job, attending Also-Known-As meetings would be a massive drag, especially since none of us were getting paid for it. Yet being around these people - 19 different individuals over the years - was a soul-lifting experience. Each one of them, to a person, was truly excellent, and they never failed to inspire me. I always left our meetings more energized than when it started.
As a result, I can walk away feeling good, because I know the organization is in extremely capable hands. I am quite excited to see where new leadership will take things, and also looking forward to being part of that in a new way. Perhaps, some of you readers might also consider being part of the organization in a new way. In any case, I look forward to seeing you at the next event, and all the ones after!
Mike Mullen, President
Also-Known-As Upcoming Events
Geographies of Kinship National Broadcast 4/19 and Pre-Broadcast Conversation 4/14
The national broadcast premiere of Deann Borshay Liem’s award-winning film GEOGRAPHIES OF KINSHIP is Thursday, May 19, 8pm ET on public television's America Reframed (NYC channel 13). In this powerful tale about the rise of Korea’s global adoption program, four adult adoptees return to their country of birth and recover the personal histories that were lost when they were adopted. Tune in!
We are co-sponsoring a special pre-broadcast conversation exploring the little-known history of African American servicemen who were among the first U.S. citizens to adopt Korean children and the eventual adoption of approximately 200,000 Korean children worldwide. This virtual event is May 14, 9pm ET and features Prof. Kori Graves, author of A War Born Family: African American Adoption in the Wake of the Korean War in conversation with Korean adoptees Dr. Estelle Cooke-Sampson, Lisa Jackson, and filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem. The event is moderated by Prof. Kim Park Nelson. Register to receive the link for this free event.
Happy Hour at Boka Chicken 4/19
Join us for Korean fried chicken at Boka Chicken in the East Village on Thursday, May 19!
WHEN: Thursday, May 19, 6:45PM (PLEASE ARRIVE ON TIME)
WHERE: Boka Chicken, 9 St. Marks Place, New York, NY 10003
COST: Pay your own way (CASH ONLY)
Note, this is a CASH ONLY establishment, so please come prepared. Please arrive on time as we will only be seated when the full headcount has arrived. For questions, contact Joseph at email@example.com.
Virtual Event: The Violence of Love and Ghostly Kinship in Adoptee Summer Camps 4/23
Featuring a presentation and Q&A by Hong Kong adoptee and scholar, Kit Myers
This talk examines two types of summer camps for adoptees: birth culture (or heritage) camps and a unique adoptee-run summer camp. It explores how these summer camps shape notions of community, family, culture, and identity in similar and different ways. It also considers how they attempt to address different forms of violence produced by adoption and love. More specifically, through the framework of ghostly kinship, it will explore the ways we can hold relationships with birth/first families that do not and are not supposed to exist.
This is a virtual event and is open to the public. No registration is required.
What: The Violence of Love and Ghostly Kinship in Adoptee Summer Camps
When: Monday May 23, 2022, 6 - 7PM ET
Where: Zoom: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/86018994043
Kit Myers is an assistant professor in the Department of History & Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Merced. He received his doctorate and master’s degrees from the University of California, San Diego in ethnic studies and his bachelor’s degree in ethnic studies and journalism from the University of Oregon. Prior to his current position, he was a chancellor’s postdoctoral fellow at UC Merced. His research examines adoption, family, and kinship, specifically in the ways that they intersect with race, gender, sexuality, immigration, citizenship, nation, and indigenous sovereignty. Kit has published articles in Adoption Quarterly, Amerasia Journal, Adoption & Culture, and Critical Discourse Studies as well as co-edited a special issue on adoption and pedagogy. He also serves as an executive committee member of the Alliance for the Study of Adoption & Culture. Visit his website for more information on his research.
Also-Known-As Annual Adoptee Picnic at Prospect Park
Join Also-Known-As to kick off Summer 2022 with our Annual Friends and Family Picnic! It's our biggest event of the year.
**This is a FREE, FAMILY-FRIENDLY EVENT, so please feel free to bring your significant others and kids!**
If you have never attended an AKA adoptee event, don't hesitate! We have a welcoming committee and it's a great first event if you've never been to an adoptee gathering before! We'll have games, prizes, lots of amazing food catered by Korean restaurant, BulBap Grill, and soft drinks~/snacks! Don't miss it, and please use this facebook event page to RSVP so we can order enough food for everyone!
WHO: Adoptees, Friends, Families, Special Guests, Everyone!
WHEN: Saturday, June 11, 2022, 12-3pm
[Rain Date: Saturday June 18th, 2022]
WHERE: Prospect Park SW, Brooklyn (same spot as previous 2 years)
Exact Google Maps location: https://goo.gl/maps/9i5A2rpDJz2K9DfP6
COST: It's a FREE event. Why? Because Also-Known-As loves our community!
RSVP: Please RSVP on this event page so we can order enough food for everyone!
TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS !!!!!!
Member Spotlight: Nikki Webster
Name: Nikki Webster aka 이혜진 AKA @nikki_often
Member since: 2012
Tell us a little about yourself:
I was adopted from South Korea to Baltimore, Maryland, USA in 1987 when I was three months old. My childhood, adolescence and college years were spent in Maryland. I don’t like to talk about my adoption experience or what it was like growing up for me, but I would easily admit that I’m significantly emotionally damaged because of it, and although I’ve come a very long way, I still have quite a ways to go to becoming healthy and at peace. I’m definitely a functioning member of society, but also not at peace yet. I think we all, as adoptees, face a lot of unspoken and unresolved trauma but there were extra layers that are difficult for me to talk about or even to reflect on.
I think that the universe (or God, if you’re religious) did try to give me a break though, and I was reunited with my entire biological family in South Korea in 2012 when I was 25 years old and I lived there, included as a member of my family, until 2017. I met both of my parents who were still married, I met aunts who remembered me as a baby, I attended weddings and funerals and yearly trips to my parent’s house for Chuseok and Seollal, I made kimchi with my mother and aunts, I got to go on summer family camping trips, I watched my sisters become mothers, I felt like I had a real family there. There are many challenges when it comes to reunion, but in contrast to my life beforehand, my reunion was dreamlike and brought me relief. I made no return trips to the United States during that time, which I think is an important detail to mention. For those five years, I wasn’t interested in the United States at all because I didn’t think I would ever return, and now I feel very far behind everyone else when it comes to US culture (which I never thought I would have trouble understanding), professional development, understanding politics / economics / finance, and “adulting” in general. I moved back to the United States in 2018 to Los Angeles for a job (that I lost in 2020), and I’ve been trying hard to navigate life in California since then.
I’m also the creator of @Nikki_often, a visual arts project dedicated to punching you in the heart with comics.
What I'm up to now:
These days, I’m reclusive by choice, and I’m dreaming of my future and planning out small steps towards getting there. I’m trying to learn more about financial literacy, professional development, and also, how to build a life alone. I’m searching for an active fitness hobby and bought rock-climbing gear and rollerblades recently. I’m also interested in learning how to take care of house plants and mini terrariums. I still haven’t gotten to explore all of Los Angeles so I try to when I can. I sometimes think about preparing to become a digital nomad for a year or two; I want to see the world, but we’ll see if I can really make that happen~ I keep up with Nikki Often regularly and am considering trying to get maybe a small coffee table book published, or starting a podcast.
What makes me laugh:
Blooper reels from comedy TV shows, like The Office, Schitt’s Creek, and Saturday Night Live, and also videos where professional comedians could not control their laughter while filming live, like The Colbert Report, Daily Show and SNL also. I really enjoy podcasts, recommendations for laughs: My Favorite Murder (true crime/comedy, weird mix but not distasteful), Timesuck (educational/comedy), If I Were You with Jake and Amir (advice/comedy). Anything satire/parody, dark humor that is dark but not cruel, wholesome humor. Reading the comments sections of meme posts and finding clever and even more hilarious responses. Snoop Dogg’s Instagram account~ There are so many things I could list out, but I’ll stop there. I need more laughs so please leave recommendations!
해물순두부지깨 Seafood Soondoobu Soup
고등어구이 Grilled Mackeral
All the banchans
Deported, Not Forgotten
Thank you to our community members for supporting Anissa Druesedow, Monty Haines, Mike Davis and Joe Nugent, four adoptees who were deported back to their countries of origin.
If you have not yet, please take some time to watch the full length interviews of Anissa, Monty and Joe to hear their stories.
COMING SOON: Please stay tuned for Mike Davis's full length interview.
Help us support deported adoptees. 100% of funds go directly to deported adoptees to help with financial hardship as they fight to return to the U.S.
NYC adoptee Ben Smith has announced the inaugural Adoptee Empowerment Housing Scholarship! This scholarship was created to make diversity more accessible to transracial adoptees by helping them experience new chapters in new cities. The inaugural program aims to help someone move to New York City by offering a 2 month housing grant, one way plane ticket and $500 cash, along with mentorship and adoptee community involvement opportunities. Deadline to apply is May 25!
Long-time Also-Known-As member Heather Schultz Gittens is collaborating with IAMAdoptee on a seven-part virtual Reiki workshop series specifically designed for intercountry adoptees. This series will explore buried emotions of anger, fear, shame, guilt and grief without judgment throughout the seven chakras in their bodies, while providing a safe and supportive space for us to listen to our bodies and discover how we can show up for ourselves. Register for the series or individual sessions.
The 2022 KAAN Conference is in-person with three days of keynotes, films, presentations, roundtables, performers, exhibits, support forums, and life-changing community. Conference dates: Friday June 24 - Sunday June 26. Early bird registation deadline has been extended through May 11! Standard admission through June 1. Also-Known-As will be presenting an intimate Q&A with several deported adoptees; other presenters include Joy Lieberthal Rho of IAmAdoptee and Lisa Gibson of FCCNY. Visit KAAN's website for the full program and to register.
The Philip Jaisohn Memorial House is pleased to present Seeds from the East: The Korean Adoptee Portrait Project. This project represents two years of work and drawings by A.D. Herzel. The exhibition runs from April 30, 2022-June 5, 2022, at 100 E. Lincoln St., Media, PA. Special events include Artist’s Talk on Saturday, May 14, from 4-5 pm with an Opening Reception to follow, online viewing of Nam Holtz's film Found in Korea between May 15-21, and online panel Art and Therapy Based Strategies: Addressing Transracial Post-Adoption Life on May 21.
Camp Naru is excited to announce the launch of their new nonprofit Korean American summer youth camp that aims to help Korean American children, including those who are adopted and multi-ethnic, strengthen their appreciation of Korean culture, build friendships in community, and grow in confidence and self-esteem. Led by longtime camp director Ben Oser, the first session will take place from August 16-22, 2022 at Berkshire Hills Eisenberg Camp in Copake, NY for children ages 8-14. Please check out their website for more information and to apply: campnaru.org.
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