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Friday, July 26, 2013

aka DAN: A Korean Adoptee Documentary Project [KickStarter] - Please Help Support My Friend DANakaDAN

So you may have seen this posted on my Facebook/Twitter today but I wanted to also do a quick blog post so I could speak a little more intimately with you all as well as express my excitement and support for my friend and fellow Korean Adoptee, Dan Matthews (DANakaDAN of afterschoolspecial). 

So a few weeks ago while in Seoul, South Korea for the first time since I was born, I received an email from my friend Dan. He had gotten some pretty HUGE news and wanted to share it with me. In the email he attached a letter as well as some photographs, what was inside gave me an entirely new perspective on being an adoptee. 

He had done a birth search and they had actually found his biological family! His parents were married and still are. He has a biological sister and TWIN BROTHER. 

....I'll just give you a moment to let that sink in. 

Now I personally don't really talk about my adoption very much, mostly because I feel like a lot of people wouldn't understand and I have found the words and actions of those types of people to be...just plain mean. After all it's not something that I sit and think about all the time, I've always been very "it is what it is" about it, especially as a child/teenager. 

Of course if anyone (genuinely) asks me I have no problem talking about it. I just never like that to be the main thing people focus on. Growing up in a small country town in Connecticut with little to no Asian people for most of my life really allowed the whole 'adoption' topic to get pushed to the back burner in most conversations. It was so rare to see an Asian person (not working at the Casino) that adopted or not adopted didn't really seem to matter. I think in all my years in school, from Kindergarden to College I was pretty much always 1 of 2 Asian kids in the entire school. (At one point there were 3 - My little brother, myself and another little girl - all of us adopted.)

When I started flying out to Los Angeles in 2009 the fact that I was adopted seemed to come up in EVERY conversation that included Asian people -___- there was a lot of "ohh she's Korean...but she's adopted" - a.k.a. why I don't speak Korean, have any Korean tendencies (other than my temper ^_^), and whatever else people like to categorize Korean people to be like. 

To be fair there are a TON of Asian people out here, and just people in general. So many different cultures and ethnicities so I guess that's an important or interesting topic. It seems to be the first question people generally ask me out here, especially if they are also Asian. It's cool to be around so many other Asian people I suppose but it's also kind isolating for me. Number one, I'm not use to it and number two, everyone seems to put so much emphasis on the fact that I'm adopted. It's like great I'm Korean, I'm now exposed to other Koreans...yet I still don't really fit in. It's something that I'm working on and something I'm sure a lot of adoptees experience. 

WE'RE ALL JUST PEOPLE! Why can't it ever be that! lol. 

Anyway, a couple years ago I met Dan through mutual friends and he is pretty into the whole adoptee thing, hearing other people's stories, connecting, etc. which was different for me because I'm really not. I think most of my life I just wanted to have the same type of family as everyone else. My parents are my parents. I don't want to talk about my biological family because for me that's not a family that I know. (And I know that probably sounds kind of harsh but please understand none of this is meant to be offensive or anything like that. Everyone processes things differently and sometimes you can't control how you feel. It's an ongoing battle for me and I think it probably always will be.) Talking with Dan and seeing adoption through his eyes and spirit have really given me new perspective on the topic. It has become kind of a new chapter emotionally for me, one that I am no longer scared or feel awkward to pursue. 

I definitely want to thank him for that, for his persistence in talking to me about adoption and sharing milestones in his journey, despite me initially shying away from the topic. I can not express what I felt for him when I received his email about finding his birth family. So many emotions I almost can't explain how you could have so many at one time. Happiness, excitement, hope, curiosity, jealousy, and yes, I cried. 

For me his outcome is something that I never thought possible, something that I would be too afraid to move forward with (for many reasons) on my own, he just did it. It happened, and this is just the beginning. 

He's boarding a flight right now to Korea, he's going to perform, meet his birth family and...they're documenting the whole thing. 

Now this is where you and I come in : ) 

In order to make this whole thing possible they have started a KickStarter. 

It would mean so much to me if you would help support if you can. Even if it's just to share the video and get the word out, I would really appreciate it. 
(I know Dan will too ^_^) 

(and yes I will also be backing the project!)

Below I have linked both the video as well as Dan's KickStarter if you want to check it out! (The video can be viewed on the KickStarter site as well so if you just want to go directly there you can.) 

You can also connect with Dan via:

And again to back his KickStarter project (Documentary + Album)

Dan, I wish you safe travels. I can't wait to hear all about it when you get back. 
You will always have my support in everything you wish to pursue! 

To everyone else, Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. Definitely a little more personal that I normally like to get online but I felt like now was the time haha. It's probably something I wouldn't do a video on but if anyone out there is interested in hearing more about my...adopted-ness. LOL. - my adoption story/life, please let me know. It may be something I would be willing to blog about since I know that I do have some fellow Korean adoptees out there and it may be a helpful support to those looking for it. My thoughts on adoption/my adoption are really on their way to coming full circle I feel. I am in the best place I have ever been with it currently so I think now I actually would be able to, in a helpful/more insightful way.

 Who knows maybe next time I will be posting about an email I get with some big news to share : )

Thanks so much for reading and I will talk to you all very soon!



  1. Such a touching story ! I can't imagine how it feels like to be adopted and it's cool you could share this story with us xx
    Good luck to your friend !


  2. Thank you for sharing this with us. I'm an adoptee as well. And I couldn't expressed it any better as you did right now. Well I never really could write or speak as well as I should for living here in the US for 25 yrs. lol.

    I LOVED reading this post... It reassures me that what I feel and think everyday as a person is not as different as others. I'm sure others would agree with me as well.

    Thank you. OXOX.


    1. thank you so much : ) it really makes me happy to hear that <3

  3. Hi Holly!

    If you'd be willing, I would love to hear about your adoption story. I am Korean - born in Seoul and moved to California when I was 10. Although I am not adopted, I have a few friends who are. Regardless of whether or not I am a "fellow adoptee" I think Dan's story is quite amazing and something to admire. I also think you're brave for sharing your personal thoughts about your adopted-ness with your readers.
    Thanks for posting and hope to hear from you again soon!


  4. Holly, I am also Korean and adopted and grew up in a similar situation as you did in a small town in NJ that was predominantly white. Hearing your story and Dan's is very cool. I always had the same attitude as you about my adoption of "it is what it is" and my (adopted) family is my family. But i think it would be very cool to watch Dan on his journey of meeting his biological family, because at the end of the day i think its only natural to wonder about our biological families (at least once in a while).

    Thanks for sharing this and for getting a little personal!


    1. I agree. I think especially as you get older it's something you think about more. Thank you so much!

  5. That's so wonderful for Dan! I wish him the best of luck on his Journey! I would love to hear your story about adoption! My boyfriend is also a Korean adoptee and a few years back he went on a trip with the adoption agency that he was adopted from and was able to find and reconnect with his biological family. Ever since then, every summer he goes back to Korea to visit them!I wish you the best of luck if you are trying to find your biological family!


    1. That's amazing! I always thought it would be hard to do but I may have Dan walk me through the process when he gets back : ) Thank you!

  6. My good friend met her birth mother in March and everything was SO exciting for her. She has so many aunts and cousins and she just went to visit them again this summer. It was extremely emotional for her and knowing that she grew up as the only Asian in a small town, being bullied and shied away from because of her Asian look - I can only imagine how happy she must be. Her mother is the sweetest thing on earth and they're SUPER similar in both personality and looks :)

    1. Very cool! Thanks for sharing and reading : )

  7. Holly!

    I've never been one to reply to blogs or people on youtube, but I have been watching your videos for a while now and it's weird to me how much I can relate to you.
    My whole life I grew up in Maryland 30 minutes away from Washington, DC with such a diverse population, but yet I still feel "left out" when I'm around other Asian people. The only Asian people I conversed with was my sister who was also adopted. Throughout college the "Asian club" always wanted me to join and I had no desire.
    My family now is my family and my sister who is also adopted is my sister. It is what it is ...
    My parents always told me I have a mother and a father who put me up for adoption with twin sister who were a year older than I was. I honestly have no desire to meet my parents, but I've always wanted to see a picture of my sisters. I've always wondered "do they look like me? act like ?" because my sister now looks nothing like me and we're totally different people. Of course everyone else says we look exactly a like (since all asians do :) ).
    How did Dan start his process and find the information to contact them?! I've always wondered, but afraid to follow through.

    As it is weird to me writing to you on a blog; I know you'll probably never respond, but know I def respect your work and talent. :)


    1. Thank you - I honestly don't really know the process that Dan went through because I didn't hear about it until after he already had gotten his letter. I felt the same as you for a long time but as I get older I am curious to see what my biological family looks like. I can't say I would care to have a relationship with them but there is some information that I would like to have, i.e. medical concerns, etc. but yeah mostly I feel like "is there anyone out there that looks like me?" Thanks for reading and for the well wishes to Dan : )

  8. That is amazing!! I donated. Good luck, I would love to hear your adoption story.

  9. Hi Holly! That's so awesome and exciting for Dan. I can't even imagine all of the emotions he must be feeling. If you feel up to it, I would be interested in your adoption story. My best friend is adopted from Korea and more or less wants to know her medical history. Although in her case it might be harder because she was found at the doorstep of a police station as an infant. She doesn't even know when her actual birthday is :( Anyway, thank you for sharing :)

    1. she may have a better chance than she thinks! what year was she born/adopted? Dan was telling me that a lot of the stories are falsified in order to make the adoption work out (via whatever the laws were in Korea back in the day) Dan's story was not what he thought it was and told me that from what he hears it is a common thing. I am def. going to see if he can help me investigate further when he gets back. : )

  10. Whoa, that's so crazy! Well, she was born in 1980 and the police/orphanage "guesstimated" that she was about 3mos when they found her. I think she was almost a year old when she was adopted. I'll be sure to let my friend know. Anything's possible, right? :)

  11. Hi Holly! Thank you so much for sharing this story.. Im so happy for Dan. :) I have to admit that before, I just saw you as a talented and a cool beauty guru and Youtuber but now I actually admire you as a person.. I imagine as an adoptee you must've gone through a lot.. And it takes courage to post something so personal. Thank you so much Holly, We all got to see a different, more personal side of you and it's amazing!! :) And believe me, i've always wanted to know your adoption story :) Please please keep up the good work and I'm always waiting for new videos :) Good luck, and take care!

    Oh and I will def. check out the kickstarter and share the vid :D

    Love you! <3

    - Kay

  12. What a great story Holly -- Thanks for sharing. Maybe this will encourage me to start my own search one day, as I am also an adoptee. There are not many people out there that can relate, but it is definitely encouraging to hear of stories like Dan's.

    1. Thanks so much for reading : ) yeah I def. want Dan to help me when I get back - can't wait to hear how it goes for him!

  13. That is really interesting because that is the story I was given, that I was left at a police station when I was about a year old. It's crazy to think that that might not be the real story....thanks for this blog post Holly, I have felt all the feelings you have described here and it's nice to know I'm not alone!

  14. Thank you for sharing such an amazing story. I think I'm just an emotional person, but I admit I did get a little teary eye. Haha. I can't say I know how the both of you feel because I haven't been in your shoes, but I believe that you both are strong people to have come this far. You're both an inspiration to every person out there who are going through or went through the same thing as the both of you. I hope that one day, whenever you're ready, you can share your story with us, your loyal fans/readers as well. No pressure of course! =) Maybe one day you'll be writing another post such as this one letting us know that you've heard from your biological family as well. Wouldn't it be weird if you had a twin too? Again, thank you for always being an inspiration and just being you. You're amazing! ^_^

  15. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. I would love to hear about your adoption story. I hope this doesn't come off as rude, insulting or anything but do you know if your biological parents are from North or South Korea? This may sound ignorant because I don't really know much. If you don't know which part they're from than probably they could be from North Korea & gave you up for adoption for a better life? Idk, just trying to send you positive thoughts. This most likely didn't work. Sorry. Hope for the best for you :)

    1. Thank you for reading :) as far as the North or South - TOTALLY DIFFERENT - there would not be any type of cross over adoption that way. Thank you for the gesture - I am fine with the fact that I am adopted so I have nothing BUT positive thoughts on the subject. : ) Many women in South Korea especially in the 80's gave their children up for adoption for many reasons, I highly doubt North Korea would be anyone's reasoning - there isn't really any mingling between North and South and North Korean's def. would not allow international adoption out as far as I am aware. I was born in Seoul, South Korea, that is where my biological parents were from. Thank you again for reading! I find it better in situations where you don't really know the story to just leave it at that vs. imagine up possibilities ya know? I hope you understand where I am coming from! I also don't mean any offense or anything like that.

  16. I completely understand when you say "that's not a family that I know", how can you miss someone you've never known in your life? I'm not adopted, but I grew up with my grandmother and father because my mother left me as an infant. Even though at times it hurts to know that own my mother did not want me, I am so thankful for the family that I do have. I have had unconditional love from my grandmother and father, and they are MY family. Not to be too graphic or inappropriate, but just because I came out of someone, does not mean they could love me. I'm so happy like you that I did not end up in a foster home or with crazy people lol, and I will be forever grateful to my grandmother for loving me as her own. People always ask me if I want to meet my mother, and my answer is NO. They do not understand, but it is my pride. I would never look for someone who did not want me, and has had absolutely no interesting in finding me after 26 years. I'm happy to hear from someone else that who they were raised by is their family, not someone they physically came out of!

  17. Hi Holly, I am also a korean adoptee, but French and I so understand your feelings. It's crazy to read you, I think exactly the same!! I am only "physicaly" Korean but the rest is totally French, I can't relate to other asian people I meet because they all have an asian background surrounded by there asian family, I always feel awkward among them and also a little bit stranger among "white" people.
    And yes, it is always the same, people always ask me where I come from, and blablabla. They always tell me that I'm lucky, that my parents are amazing, that my life sould have been horrible...I'm quite fed-up! Not every adoptee story is terrible and dramatic :)
    Have you seen this funny video on youtube about an ignorant guys who tries to flirt with this korean girls? "What kind of Asian are you?" it is so true!!

    I never wanted to find my korean parents because they don't exist for me. Only my actual parents are important for me, they desired me so much and love me as their true biological little girl. I also have a french adoptee brother and a french biological sister.
    I am very happy that you were able to be more personal about your experience, I am not alone!
    Thanks for sharing Holly! <3

  18. I'm married to a Korean adoptee. It's never easy to watch your spouse go through internal emotional conflicts and know that there is nothing you can do but be there to support him. Before finding and reuniting with his birth parents, there are questions and wonderings. After finding and reconnecting with them, other painful feelings bubble to the surface and it's especially difficult when there is a language and cultural disconnect.

    I wish you much luck.

    If you embark on this journey, remember that you are not alone. You have friends that love you and are there to listen to you when you cannot share some difficult feelings with your family.

    You've touched my life by sharing your life online.

    If you want to connect with more people that have gone through the finding and reconnecting with their birth parents, let me know, I can send you their way. I know having others that went through similar emotional journeys help my hubs.

    *virtual hugs*

  19. Hello! I know it's late and I did read this post last year. It's just comforting to be able to come back and read this whenever I feel like something about adoption is bothering me. I'm glad I'm not the only one with practically the same feelings about my biological family! They are friends with me on facebook, but I don't really feel the need to get close to them as my own family. They didn't really talk to me at all for the first 18 years of my life, even though they were able to! I am not Korean, but I am Yup'ik Eskimo and I have white parents, so it's been a constant battle for me too. Thank you soooo much for sharing this! I don't feel the need to be attached to my biological culture. It's not really a big part that defines me.