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Adoption stories

Naomi Garbisch, Andrew Garbisch, ages 18 and 21, 2005, Cook, MN. This shows a brother and sister together shortly before each leaves for college.

Lois Garbisch
Cook, MN

Birth Country: South Korea
Decade of adoption: 1980s

We adopted two children, separately, from Korea. The boy was 12 months old then; age 21 now. The girl was 22 months old; age 18 now. We have a birth child who is older by a few years.

We live in a very small town in rural Minnesota which is mostly white, as we are. Some people predicted that we would experience more prejudice or racial problems because this is a small town. We actually found that it may have been easier for the children here. Of course, we don't know what may have been said behind their backs. They experienced only a few remarks to them personally.

The biggest difference of being in a small place rather than in a metro area, is that people know who we are. Someone may see a child who is "different" and wonder and ask, but then it is over and done with.

My children participated in many school activities and sports, and they just were treated as individuals. Actually, my son has told me that he used his minority status to his advantage because he stands out. But these two would probably stand out if they were white, as well, because they both have smiles that light up the room.

I've heard that in the metro areas, Asian children may often be asked, "where are you from?" Or they are assumed to be refugees. Or they are assumed to be Chinese, etc. My children mostly haven't had to deal with these questions because people know who we are.

Parents have to work at getting cultural information and experiences for adopted children. In some ways this is more difficult when the family is far from the city. On the other hand, these children, in general, tend to show little interest. We found that our white daughter read more of the Korea books we bought than the two Korean children did. But it is necessary to "just do it" ie, do Korean things. Don't wait for the children to ask, because they won't.

We took the family to Korea with the tour set up by the YMCA, with other families who had adopted from Korea. This was a wonderful experience for all of us. Our children met kids like themselves, and for the first time, they were in the majority, as least in looks. The country of Korea is beautiful, and the Korean culture is wonderfully rich, and mostly unknown to Americans.

We also had a Korean foreign exchange student in 1996. We have kept in touch with his family, visited them in Korea, and had both him and his sister visit us here in the last few years. I'm sure that we would never have had this enrichment of our lives without having adopted Korean kids.

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