Sanjana, with her grandfather
“My name is Leah Garlock, and I was adopted from South Korea. Growing up, I lived in a diverse city with Italian American and Irish American parents. From an early age, my parents instilled in me the importance of cultural traditions. In particular, the Korean Adoptee cultural camp I attended helped me explore and claim my Korean heritage. While I'm grateful to have lived in a diverse city, a big part of me always felt in limbo between the various spaces I entered. In school and my community, I often felt like I was "too much of this" and "not enough of that". At home, I was the only Asian and person of color in my family. Attending camp, discovering K-Pop, and meeting other Adoptees helped me feel more seen, validated, and "normal." This experience helped open the door to greater self-love and acceptance.
A few years ago, I started my birth family search and later was fortunate enough to meet them. For many, "reunion with birth families" feels like closure. However, for me, it's like opening a Pandora's Box. While I knew pieces of my adoption story growing up, meeting my birth family turned all of that upside down. Many of our birth stories have been falsified, and my story was also far from true. The truth has reopened a lot of much needed inner child work, buried trauma, and healing. However, in knowing more of the truth, I can claim parts of me, I thought I had lost and forgotten. This is a journey I'm still on.
For the last four years, I worked as a Social Impact and Experience Designer in New York City. While I loved my experiences in New York, I felt a deep calling to move to South Korea after my first trip back home a few years ago. In 2021, I will be embarking on a new adventure as a Fulbright Teaching Assistant in South Korea. It's been quite the journey to get here, but I'm feeling grateful for this new chapter. While there's still a lot of unknowns and uncertainties, my intuition and faith have helped make this next step less daunting and more exciting.” (South Korea)
Leah is heading to South Korea for the next chapter of her life. Keep up with her and her journey on @leah.chi.grace.