American RadioWorks |
Josipa Roksa and Richard Arum, co-authors of Aspiring Adults Adrift. (Photo:  Social Science Research Council)

Ed researchers: Colleges can do more for students, especially in a bad economy

College is worth the investment. College graduates can’t find good jobs. Student loan debt keeps rising, and now tops a trillion dollars. What can be done?

Recent Posts

  • 09.17.14

    A company short on skilled workers creates its own college-degree program

    At a Toyota plant in Kentucky, young people are learning how to fix robots, earning associate's degrees and graduating with jobs that pay up to $80,000 a year.
  • 09.11.14

    A 21st-century vocational high school

    For years, vocational education was seen as a lesser form of schooling, tracking some kids into programs that ended up limiting their future opportunities. Today, in the nation's best vocational programs, things are different.
  • 09.10.14

    Career academies: A new twist on vocational ed

    Across the country, thousands of high schools are transforming into career academies. The idea is that students will be more engaged if they see how academics are connected to the world of work. And they’ll be more likely to get the postsecondary schooling they need to support themselves in today’s economy.
  • 09.09.14

    The troubled history of vocational education

    Vocational education was once used to track low-income students off to work while wealthier kids went to college. But advocates for today's career and technical education say things have changed, and graduates of vocational programs may have the advantage over graduates of traditional high schools.

American RadioWorks |
Josipa Roksa and Richard Arum, co-authors of Aspiring Adults Adrift. (Photo:  Social Science Research Council)

Ed researchers: Colleges can do more for students, especially in a bad economy

College is worth the investment. College graduates can’t find good jobs. Student loan debt keeps rising, and now tops a trillion dollars. What can be done?

Recent Posts

  • 09.17.14

    A company short on skilled workers creates its own college-degree program

    At a Toyota plant in Kentucky, young people are learning how to fix robots, earning associate's degrees and graduating with jobs that pay up to $80,000 a year.
  • 09.11.14

    A 21st-century vocational high school

    For years, vocational education was seen as a lesser form of schooling, tracking some kids into programs that ended up limiting their future opportunities. Today, in the nation's best vocational programs, things are different.
  • 09.10.14

    Career academies: A new twist on vocational ed

    Across the country, thousands of high schools are transforming into career academies. The idea is that students will be more engaged if they see how academics are connected to the world of work. And they’ll be more likely to get the postsecondary schooling they need to support themselves in today’s economy.
  • 09.09.14

    The troubled history of vocational education

    Vocational education was once used to track low-income students off to work while wealthier kids went to college. But advocates for today's career and technical education say things have changed, and graduates of vocational programs may have the advantage over graduates of traditional high schools.


Adoption stories


Left to Right, Rory, Bren and Emmi at a camping trip in Big Bear Mountain, September 2005.

Bren Kim-Rastello
Moreno Valley, CA

Birth Country: South Korea
Decade of adoption: 1980s

Since as long as I can remember, I've always wondered about my Ommah: What does she look like? Is her voice like mine? What things interest her? And, most of all: Does she think of me?

I have not seen my Ommah since she put me, a tiny sickly 10-month-old baby girl, into the care of Holt International in April 1980. Since that day as far back as I can remember I have always longed to see someone that "looked like me." The day my first daughter was born, I stood in awe as everyone that saw her told me she looked just like me. I'd waited my whole life to hear those words: "She looks like you." I would look at her and try to see myself in her. Was it her eyes that made us look alike? No, hers were green; mine dark brown. Was it her mouth? Her smile? It was her. She looked like me, because she was mine -- my baby. Emmi is now two, and while she does resemble me in looks, it is her manners, an "attitude," that makes her look like me.

After she was born, instantaneously I had instant love for this tiny little life, the animal instinct to protect her, and desire to give her everything. I was her Mommy, her Ommah. It hit me like a ton of bricks, and made me cry for my Ommah. I could not imagine giving this bundle of joy and love in my arms to someone else to say, "You take care of my baby because I cannot." I was awestruck by the strength my Ommah must have had to allow her baby to be raised by someone else, the goodness of her heart to only want the best for me.

My second daughter arrived the way I did: She came on a plane from Korea, scared and frightened as her whole world had just come crashing down. From the moment I saw her in the airport it was the same fierce motherly love in my heart for her, the same need to protect her and give her the world. I looked at her, and, again, "she looked like me." She did not look like me just because we both have the same almond eyes and dark black hair, but because she had completed the same journey I did. She'd come from overseas, leaving behind an Ommah that loved her, country and culture she would never again fit into, to join a family that loved her before they even knew her. She was just like me.

Rory is one and a half and does not understand yet about the journey she took to get to here. She does still say things in Korean, calls my husband Appa. But she will learn about her Ommah's love. I will tell her everything I know. My husband often says that Rory is more like me then Emmi. Rory has my personality, my temper (it's been nicknamed a kimchee temper at our house), and we both have two Ommahs.

I may never meet my Ommah face to face again, but it does not mean I do not see her. It is through my daughters that I see my Ommah. I see the love she had for me in how I love my babies. I see her courage and strength in my daughter's Ommah that chose for her a different life than she could give her, a life in which her baby could have all the desires of her heart. My journey to my Ommah may never end, but now as a mom, I realize she is always with me, and I see her everyday.



Back to Adoption Stories


American RadioWorks |
Josipa Roksa and Richard Arum, co-authors of Aspiring Adults Adrift. (Photo:  Social Science Research Council)

Ed researchers: Colleges can do more for students, especially in a bad economy

College is worth the investment. College graduates can’t find good jobs. Student loan debt keeps rising, and now tops a trillion dollars. What can be done?

Recent Posts

  • 09.17.14

    A company short on skilled workers creates its own college-degree program

    At a Toyota plant in Kentucky, young people are learning how to fix robots, earning associate's degrees and graduating with jobs that pay up to $80,000 a year.
  • 09.11.14

    A 21st-century vocational high school

    For years, vocational education was seen as a lesser form of schooling, tracking some kids into programs that ended up limiting their future opportunities. Today, in the nation's best vocational programs, things are different.
  • 09.10.14

    Career academies: A new twist on vocational ed

    Across the country, thousands of high schools are transforming into career academies. The idea is that students will be more engaged if they see how academics are connected to the world of work. And they’ll be more likely to get the postsecondary schooling they need to support themselves in today’s economy.
  • 09.09.14

    The troubled history of vocational education

    Vocational education was once used to track low-income students off to work while wealthier kids went to college. But advocates for today's career and technical education say things have changed, and graduates of vocational programs may have the advantage over graduates of traditional high schools.