Adoption Journey pt. 1

If you follow me on Instagram you might know since my first visit to Seoul in 2016 I've been trying to find my birth family.  I was born in Seoul, Korea but adopted into a family in New Jersey at five months old.  I grew up in a place that lacked Korean culture, so I never had a strong desire to find my birth family. My adoption was not hidden from me (being the only Asian person in an Italian/Irish family), and I grew up watching documentaries about adopted children trying to find their birth families.  Obviously, I had different priorities as a young adult.  Growing up I didn't have a healthy relationship with my adoptive family, and was kicked out at 18.  This is when I discovered I technically wasn't a U.S. citizen and didn't have proof of my citizenship.  This started the long and expensive process of applying for American citizenship while I was going to college and working full time in New York City.  I can't begin to explain how this was the most challenging time of my life.  I cried on a daily basis and was so overwhelmed with the application process.  There is no security or guarantee once you submit the check and application for citizenship, so the wait time was about two years for me.  I grew up, went to school, and worked my whole life in the United States, and it still was a two year wait for me.  I can't imagine how stressful this ordeal is for the people who have no ties to this country when applying. 

In September 2016 Tim and I visited South Korea for the first time.  I had a vague idea to visit the adoption agency, but did no real research to prepare for it.  Tim pulled through and located the office located three subway stops from where we were staying.  I had a brief panic attack, but then sat with a case worker who was able to pull my file and explain my entire adoption case to me.  She let me know my birth family weren't in a good financial or healthy state to raise me as their fourth child, but they did everything they could at the time to give me the opportunity for a better life.  After this meeting I had a totally different perspective and deep appreciation for my family I never met. 
Fast forward to April 22, 2018 (less than two months ago!) I submitted an outreach letter to Holt Agency giving my consent to try to find my birth family.  Now, this process is very old school involving an actual telegram being hand delivered to the last noted residence of my family.  When I submitted my application I had no expectations but I was satisfied knowing I tried.  Seven weeks later I was checking my emails after work and get a life changing email with a brief update and photo of my birth parents.  We were all shocked.  The communication between us has been brief but very surprised and happy.  My sister sent a few photos of the family and they're very curious about my life.  I have three older siblings-two brothers, a sister (full blood), and at least one niece!  I submitted my response letter yesterday and will wait to hear back if they give consent to contact me outside of Holt Agency. 
In the meantime I've started to learn Korean through the Duolingo app and downloaded Kakaotalk for when they're ready to reach me.  I'm terrible at documenting things, but this is a life changing experience, and if not to share with others I will look back at this time in awe.  It feels serendipitous to have struggled for so long and when I was finally ready to reach out everything happened so quickly.  Given the current political climate with families and children being displaced without any proof of identity it makes me worried for their futures.  As I find my birth family after 27 years this young generation is being torn from theirs.  Every child deserves the opportunities to live a happy, healthy life.  Being separated from your family can have devastating life time emotional effects that aren't necessarily evident until an older age.  I still struggle with my feelings, but with a small (but very solid) support system, therapy, and the closure of finding my birth family I have a much different perspective these days.  I hope this story resonates with someone going through a similar thing.  It's hard feeling like you can't relate with people having dealt with so many things stacked against your favor and barely any support.  I hope we raise the next generation of kids to be compassionate and realize not everyone has the same opportunities even though we live in the "Land of the free."  I will continue documenting this experience as the months go on....  Many thanks to the people who have reached out in support or with kind words throughout this process. It's been a great help.

first pictures of me when I was born 

first pictures of me when I was born 

Tim took this photo of me right before we went to Holt Adoption office in Seoul. It was located three subway stops from where we were staying. I was a mess from the heat and anxiety.  

Tim took this photo of me right before we went to Holt Adoption office in Seoul. It was located three subway stops from where we were staying. I was a mess from the heat and anxiety.  

Thinking about...

Here’s a clip from an article from Vogue online by Molly Guy.  This is her reply to a woman who recently moved from New York City to Los Angeles to pursue a career change. She wrote in asking for advice, and I thought this bit about fashion and film attracting a certain type of person was interesting. 

I am focusing on remaining comfortable in my own skin regardless of the industry I work in.  

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Wo(man) vs Machine

It’s important to recognize and appreciate quality craftsmanship and details made by real, human hands not machines.   Technology and machines create convenience, but any traditional craftsmanship is a honed, intentionally learned skill.  Appreciate quality hand made.  Look for the small details whether it be a polish, weavings, structure and integrity.  As humans we have imperfections and what we create on any level isn’t flawless and can be improved. The integrity behind how and with what we are creating is the major difference between wo(man) vs machine. 

Hand woven bamboo basket  

Hand woven bamboo basket  

Cloisonné 

Cloisonné 

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Check the shadows from the detailing on this serving piece. Silversmithing at its finest. 

Silver tea set  

Silver tea set  

All of these pieces were made by hand before most modern technology.  Our hands are capable of creating amazing things.  

2017

Another crazy ear flew by!  It was eventful and challenging, but I made it through with new perspective and hopeful.  Here’s images from each month of 2017 in my perspective: 

Chicago jazz club 01/2017

Chicago jazz club 01/2017

It was a tumultuous political climate this year. This was from the protest of the Muslim travel ban at LAX 

It was a tumultuous political climate this year. This was from the protest of the Muslim travel ban at LAX 

Immigrants March in DTLA 

Immigrants March in DTLA 

Camping in Joshua Tree

Camping in Joshua Tree

First time as a juror

First time as a juror

The rain got CA out of the drought this year.  The poppy fields were epic  

The rain got CA out of the drought this year.  The poppy fields were epic  

Collaborated and met with so many great people in the LA creative community. This was from the shoot with Another White Noise (thanks for the hoodie Phill!)

Collaborated and met with so many great people in the LA creative community. This was from the shoot with Another White Noise (thanks for the hoodie Phill!)

Philippines trip  

Philippines trip  

My jewelry had the most editorial features this year to date!  This one is from Billabong x Love Like Summer campaign.  

My jewelry had the most editorial features this year to date!  This one is from Billabong x Love Like Summer campaign.  

Tried to be outside and disconnect every Sunday  

Tried to be outside and disconnect every Sunday  

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Was part of this creative community project Poketo x MoCA LA

Was part of this creative community project Poketo x MoCA LA

EPIC trip to Paris

EPIC trip to Paris

Adult-ing  

Adult-ing  

Non traditional Thanksgiving 👌🏽 

Non traditional Thanksgiving 👌🏽 

 balance in 2018

 balance in 2018

Second and last complexcon for me.  

Second and last complexcon for me.  

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Bucket list: Versailles Palace

Checked this one off the bucket list.  I remember learning about Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette in high school history class.  Soon after Sophia Coppola’s film Marie Antoinette was released.  The soundtrack, visuals, and costume design were so whimsical and romantic, and I wanted to see the grandeur scale and opulence in person.

In the first Paris blog post I acknowledged the craftsmanship and beauty in traditional French design.  The palace was built in the mid 1600s during a time when finances to fabricate the best design with the best materials was irrelevant.  In today’s world things are made to be time and cost effective not necessarily to appreciate the beauty and aesthetic of design.  It was epic to see such a well preserved, historic palace and gardens.  Palace Versailles is a testament to quality craftsmanship standing the test of time (under proper care and conditions).

Golden gates with sun faces to represent the “Sun King” Louis XIV

Golden gates with sun faces to represent the “Sun King” Louis XIV

view in the front courtyard from afar  

view in the front courtyard from afar  

chapel

chapel

Fabric wallpaper

Fabric wallpaper

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black and gold  

black and gold  

Multiple different stones carved to create this sculpture  

Multiple different stones carved to create this sculpture  

Looking up

Looking up

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Feels a little Alice in Wonderland  

Feels a little Alice in Wonderland  

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Black Friday-for your consideration

A rare site of empty space at a mall in Manila, Philippines.  

A rare site of empty space at a mall in Manila, Philippines.  

I don’t believe or participate in buying or marking down goods for Black Friday.  It’s a made up day and causes anxiety, selfishness, and cuts away from spending time with family for the holiday.  Having worked Black Fridays for corporate and independent companies I’ve been part of the madness on the business side vs consumer perspective.  In theory the man hours and cost of materials usually are not discounted, but companies participate to generate profits before the end of the year.

If you really want to help support small business do so anytime of the year not just when you’re in a rush looking for a last minute deal.  It’s a shame artists and businesses profit the most when they have the mark down and reduce the prices of goods that were initially made for someone to appreciate regardless of the cost.   While you’re online shopping or going crazy at the stores this holiday please consider the employees, production teams, designers, postal workers, etc. who put themselves and their work on the line to meet the high demands of the season instead of spending it with friends and family. 

Paris Trip

Paris 11.8-11.15.17

Parisians appreciate good art and craftsmanship (old architecture, couture, food, etc).  We spent a lot of time looking up at ornate architecture, drinking wine at local tabacs, and walking every inch of the city (44 miles total).  We appreciate and get to know cities best through eating the local foods and walking the neighborhoods.  

I wanted to see the old monuments, architecture, and art.  We live in a world where time, cost and efficiency are the excuses we aren’t able to create master pieces.  Many makers aim to profit from their work and bend to the demands of the market and consumers.  It was refreshing to see such an old city preserving its architecture and art so well.  World renown couture houses, Michelin restaurants, and museums are all located within one city smaller than Manhattan.

This trip reiterated to me “quality not quantity.”  It’s important to take the time to feel inspired for a different perspective.  I want to create intentional, beautiful things rather than create just to “keep up.”  The world is already saturated with enough garbage.  As a maker it’s part of my responsibility to create meaningful things that have more positive than negative impact on the world.    

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Looking up shot from our Rue du Ofevres in the first arrondissement.  The building we stayed in was built in the 17th century and in the mid century housed the goldsmith corporation. “Ofevres” translates to goldsmith 👌🏼

Looking up shot from our Rue du Ofevres in the first arrondissement.  The building we stayed in was built in the 17th century and in the mid century housed the goldsmith corporation. “Ofevres” translates to goldsmith 👌🏼

The Seine River 

The Seine River 

Wish we brought Asher with us. Saw so many off leash pups walking with their owners. 

Wish we brought Asher with us. Saw so many off leash pups walking with their owners. 

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One of the few modern architecture buildings  

One of the few modern architecture buildings  

A few closer details of Notre Dame Cathedral:

Carved people(s)

Carved people(s)

I appreciate these details because we don’t take the time to make art like this anymore (due to time, cost, efficiency and whatever excuses).  France has done a great job at preserving its history and monuments. 

I appreciate these details because we don’t take the time to make art like this anymore (due to time, cost, efficiency and whatever excuses).  France has done a great job at preserving its history and monuments. 

Chandeliers and carved columns

Chandeliers and carved columns

I liked the blue iron frames on this building

I liked the blue iron frames on this building

Sacre Coeur Basilica in Montmartre 

Sacre Coeur Basilica in Montmartre 

no paved roads in Montmartre the oldest city in Paris.  I definitely fell on my back and slipped down the wet, rocky path. 

no paved roads in Montmartre the oldest city in Paris.  I definitely fell on my back and slipped down the wet, rocky path. 

View overlooking Paris on a cloudy day.  

View overlooking Paris on a cloudy day.  

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The third day started with a sun shower

The third day started with a sun shower

Saw some beautiful foliage 

Saw some beautiful foliage 

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Walked from the first arrondissement to the Eiffel Tower in a drizzle  

Walked from the first arrondissement to the Eiffel Tower in a drizzle  

then we saw the details of the day at the Eiffel Tower. Seriously, the ornate filigree work on such a grand scale monument is cool to see in person. #metalsmithnerds

then we saw the details of the day at the Eiffel Tower. Seriously, the ornate filigree work on such a grand scale monument is cool to see in person. #metalsmithnerds

On the walk back from the Tower  

On the walk back from the Tower  

it started hailing and we were running for cover, BUT I stopped to snap a picture of the Luxor Obelisk honoring the Sun God Ra (this monument inspired the Pinnacle Collection-see previous blog post). 

it started hailing and we were running for cover, BUT I stopped to snap a picture of the Luxor Obelisk honoring the Sun God Ra (this monument inspired the Pinnacle Collection-see previous blog post). 

Someone took their time and fabricated this to make this column as beautiful as possible for the sake of beauty.  We don’t make things like this anymore!  The colors and details on this column in the Place de la Concorde 😍

Someone took their time and fabricated this to make this column as beautiful as possible for the sake of beauty.  We don’t make things like this anymore!  The colors and details on this column in the Place de la Concorde 😍

   The Louvre  

 

The Louvre  

one of my favorite things I saw at the Louvre in the Islamic Art exhibit was this goldsmiths tool box. Scales, tweezers, etc included in an ornately designed wooden box 👌🏼✨ 

one of my favorite things I saw at the Louvre in the Islamic Art exhibit was this goldsmiths tool box. Scales, tweezers, etc included in an ornately designed wooden box 👌🏼✨ 

Then there was this golden treasure chest because someone wanted to make a really beautiful chest and someone could appreciate this way back then.  

Then there was this golden treasure chest because someone wanted to make a really beautiful chest and someone could appreciate this way back then.  

if you know you know.  

if you know you know.  

Mona Lisa smile. Psych.  

Mona Lisa smile. Psych.  

the bright blue wedge stone I use in some of my necklaces (Lapis Lazuli) is pictured here.  In luxurious dish ware form.  

the bright blue wedge stone I use in some of my necklaces (Lapis Lazuli) is pictured here.  In luxurious dish ware form.  

got anxiety and aggravated trying to get photos of the Crown Jewels.  Just wanted to get close to appreciate/capture the opulence.  

got anxiety and aggravated trying to get photos of the Crown Jewels.  Just wanted to get close to appreciate/capture the opulence.  

light and door details  

light and door details  

I always pay my respects to the original wax carvers and jewelers. Can’t even iagine what the process of wax carving was like thousands and thousands of years ago with less materials and tools.    

I always pay my respects to the original wax carvers and jewelers. Can’t even iagine what the process of wax carving was like thousands and thousands of years ago with less materials and tools. 

 

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scale.  

scale.  

doing it for the ‘gram.  

doing it for the ‘gram.  

Under I.M. Pei’s pyramid 

Under I.M. Pei’s pyramid 

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I miss seasons and weather while living in LA. Got my mix of fall sunshine, rain, hail, sun showers, cold, and warm in a week in Paris. 

I miss seasons and weather while living in LA. Got my mix of fall sunshine, rain, hail, sun showers, cold, and warm in a week in Paris. 

Epic trip.  

Epic trip.  

Complexcon

We went to last years first Complexcon in Long Beach and it was a great event.  The attendees were excited about street wear brands releasing exclusive merch, panels featuring celebrities, musicians, and industry professionals + musical performances throughout the day with a concert ending the night. Each brands booth was merchandised to look like an art installation and the crowds were manageable. We knew we wanted to go the next year.  

This year was a circus. The crowds and ticket pricing doubled, so there were wait lines everywhere.  We spent most of last year walking the floor, but knew we wanted to see more conversations this year.   We were able to walk the floor and then catch the Hot Ones and Everyday Struggle tapings.  It’s been cool to follow Sean Evans and the Hot Ones series, so the live taping with Wale did not disappoint.  

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There were more vendors this year which really made this a shopping event.  We were excited to see N.E.R.D.  perform, but the concert was a release party for their new album. The audience didn’t know any of the songs + exhaustion from the long day wasn’t a great combination.  The stage display was much cooler than last year and their choreographed dancers made a great performance.  

Pre-show

Pre-show

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I understand streetwear and the culture it stands for has changed since it’s beginnings and became a mainstream luxury.  Since there’s still a limited market for women’s streetwear I’m able to admire sneaker design and the functionality of good design and structure.  I like the idea of rarity and feeling unique wearing something that not everyone knows about.  I don’t think it’s the worst thing there’s not an over saturated market of women’s street brands. I can still appreciate the “if you know you know” feeling with a smaller market/following. 

Concepts sandbox.  Their booth closed early because they sold out of product. 

Concepts sandbox.  Their booth closed early because they sold out of product. 

Emotionally Unavailable booth. Got their collab tshirt and a rose 🌹

Emotionally Unavailable booth. Got their collab tshirt and a rose 🌹

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🥀 

🥀 

yolo

yolo

24k magic in the aAaaaiiiR

24k magic in the aAaaaiiiR

The political statements were nonexistent last year.  A lot has changed since then.  

The political statements were nonexistent last year.  A lot has changed since then.  

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