Ignorance is not bliss


I am a Korean adoptee born in Seoul and adopted/arrived in the United States when I was five months old.  My parents were of Italian and Irish decent (first generation).  They did not have college degrees and we survived off of my my dads sole income as a federal employee.  Growing up I assumed an education would equate to success.  Unfortunately, my parents were not advocates for education or any of my goals.  I was kicked out of my family home while still in high school.   I had no money, insurance, or basic forms of identification.  Being adopted and not born in this country proved very difficult getting a job without ID.  With the help and kindness of a few (precious) people here and there I was able to over the course of a few years acquire all of my basic points of identification.  Even though I have lived here since five months I was still required to apply for a piece of paper that proved I was an American citizen.  That means a certificate of naturalization is required before even considering applying for a passport.  A naturalization certificate costs over $700 and almost two years to process.  Despite having lived in this country, gone to school, and worked my entire life here I still had to go through the rigorous process of applying for citizenship.  It sucks and it is draining mentally and financially (especially as a college student).  

At the same time while this was happening during my late high school/early college days, I was working and going to school both full time.  I had no health/dental insurance and relied on the HORRIBLE public health system.  Applying for financial aid for college was so difficult (near impossible) for me without my parents consent to submit the application for aid.  Between applying for citizenship, college, and medical fees it was very difficult/impossible to stay afloat.  I didn't have a safety net or many options.  I can tell you I worked my ass off more than most of the privileged girls and boys I was in design school in New York City with.  Their parents had the ability to save for their college tuition while mine disapproved of college education altogether.  

Despite constantly struggling and feeling helpless I was still able to get an education.  I was able to work, get paid and gain experience in the work field out of necessity and personal drive.  There are people who are in the same situation as I was, but have even less options to consider.  We are goal oriented people driven by the "American dream" of success (money or fame).  I have worked hard for my education, my career, my citizenship, my life to be a respectable human being within this society.  The fact that there are people within this country who do not know, understand, or respect my struggle or anyone else's but their own I have a hard time coping with.  The next time you have to choose between your personal taxes or people who are in unfortunate circumstances despite their hardest efforts please reconsider.  People "forget" I'm Asian because I grew up here.  I do not have the same luxuries as many people who were not born here.   I work hard to stay here, paying for citizenship and then taxes.  There are too many of these stories that haven't been told.  We don't share these stories to spare the discomfort of others feelings.  Instead we look at pictures of selfies and celebrities to obsess over instead of the people in crisis.   Please, let's try again with social media and connecting with other people who need help.