Among the speakers at the panel I’m attending this Friday is Heewon Lee, co-author of HERE: A Visual History of Adopted Koreans in Minnesota. I was so excited when this book came out a few years ago, because it was among a select few that was written by Korean adoptees, with the exclusive goal of telling our stories. With no agenda other than sharing our stories in both written and photographic form, it fills an important gap in the literature. I’m looking forward to meeting Heewon, who (coincidentally, or not, as the community is small) is a friend of a friend.
Why HERE? Our story: Minnesota has one of the highest number of adopted Koreans, per capita, in the world, and yet there is nothing in our state’s annals to document this. This book was conceived to recognize the 13,000–15,000 of us who have immigrated to Minnesota, and to celebrate our existence, experiences, and perspectives, which are as diverse as our faces. We are everyday people, yet unique. We are girls, boys, women, men, babies, teens, and adults; singles, partnered, married, gay, straight, and transgendered; sons and daughters, mothers and fathers. We are a living, breathing part of Minnesota history. This book has no agenda—it is neither for nor against international adoption. We merely present the spectrum of our adopted community and how we have altered the face of Minnesota since the 1950s. Most important, we felt the urgent need to create this book as a resource not only for the present population, but also for future adoptees. After all, many of us do not have access to our Korean families and ancestry, and this book may provide the only touchstone many of us will ever have.