My name is Kristen Joy Landenberger, and sometimes I forget I’m Asian. How’s that for an introduction? I pretty much jumped into this putting my thoughts down right here thing, so I thought I owed you some sort of an introduction! I feel like I’m terrible at these things, so here goes nothing!
NOTE/WARNING: With respect to my family, they have agreed to this post, as this isn’t just MY story, but really OUR story. When I say Mom or Dad, I mean my Mom and Dad, not my birth Mom and birth Dad. Also, not all adoption stories are the same, so please be cautious when asking someone for theirs. I’m very open about being adopted and my story, but for some, it can be a point of physical/emotional/mental struggles which leads them to be more closed about their story. Overall, just use good judgment folks 🙂 Also, this is much longer than I anticipated!
Here are some facts:
– If you read my first post, you know that I’m 30, single, living on my own, and well into my career.
– I was born in Seoul, South Korea
– I flew across the ocean in a black-nosed plane, held by a stranger.
– My parents adopted me at 3 months of age
– I’m the youngest of 3 (Brother 12 years older & Sister 3 years older)
– My brother is biologically related to my parents, and my sister is also adopted from South Korea (we are not biologically related).
– Both of them are married with kids (and I absolutely love being Aunt Kristen/Aunt KiKi)
The story starts with two high school sweethearts who married at the ripe ages of 19 and 20. My parents had struggled with infertility throughout their young married life and eventually had my brother, Jeff, in their mid-twenties. To them, this was their first miracle with children! After about 8-9 years, they knew someone in their church who adopted two Asian children and felt like God was encouraging them to look further into adoption. Eventually, God laid the burden on their heart to pursue adoption, and adopted my sister, Laura, at 6 months old.
Shortly after adopting Laura, my parents found out that they were expecting! They were shocked to find out that they were pregnant and expecting another girl, this time, biologically their own. With doing some testing, which is normal with any pregnancy, they found out that there were some complications, and the doctor prepared them for the worst. They were informed that she had Patau syndrome, which affected every cell of her body. With their faith in our creator & healer, they couldn’t help but place their hope for another miracle.
My parents decided that they were not going to terminate the pregnancy but instead continued to pray for a miracle for their baby girl. They ended up naming her Kristen Hope, as they were hoping and praying for a miracle. Unfortunately, that did not happen, and my Mom gave birth to a red-headed little girl. Just mere moments thereafter, she passed, but my parents didn’t give up on the promise that their hope would one day be turned to joy.
After giving themselves time to grieve and setting themselves up financially, my parents began the adoption process again. What they received was ME! My adoption process went much quicker, and within months they had been matched with me. I then flew with a stranger, along with a bunch of other adoptees, to the US on a black-nosed plane!
My adoption story has some unique aspects. We have a short note written to us about my birth mother’s story. She was young, unmarried, and found herself pregnant. In Korea at this time, it brought much dishonor to the family to have a child out of wedlock, which makes my birth grandmother’s presence at my birth surprising! The note details that my birth mother and father had been both working in a factory when she found out that she was pregnant. They both agreed that it was in my best interest to put me up for adoption, as they were not in a position to get married. They even requested that I be placed with an American family that would love and care for me.
The movie The Drop Box is one depiction of the epidemic in South Korea. It is a documentary about a pastor in South Korea who rescues foundlings and abandoned babies (many with disabilities) and creates a box connected to his house to save babies. The number of babies that are abandoned on the streets, in dumpsters, down alleys, and in the Drop Box, is astounding. Now, South Korea has become more accepting of children with disabilities, as well as domestic adoptions, which is huge! In response to this movie, it’s a miracle that my birth mother would choose life, choose to select a safe way to have me, and to choose to put me up for adoption.
I want to believe that she chose all of those things and wasn’t forced into putting me up for adoption. I choose to hold on to the fact that a sovereign God had His hand on my life from the moment of conception. That He worked all things together for my good, and only by His grace. I’m forever grateful for all of my story! Even more so, my parents are, as I was their “Hope for Joy” after grieving such a loss! They found it such a blessing that God would allow them the opportunity to still welcome into their family another girl, Kristen Joy (that’s me if you didn’t catch that! 🙂 ).
I’ll never know my sister that I share a first name with, this side of heaven, but I carry her story too. One of hope… hope for life, love, family… for JOY! It’s a bit ironic, as I’m sometimes known to be an “Eeyore”, as I struggle with negativity/perfectionism. Part of that is what led me to start this blog! The reflection on life, it’s blessings, and the One who promises us an eternal hope is one of the best ways to find joy in any circumstance!
I cannot share my story without sharing my faith in a God who has promised me an eternal hope and an eternal life! I can’t tell you my story and not see the reflection of my story against the sacrifice Christ from Ephesians 1:3-10:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us[b] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known[c] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”
I see my sister, Kristen Hope, in these verses, mostly in her death just as Christ died for us, so that I may become part of this specific family. To be honest, who knows if my parents would’ve continued to adopt had she lived, but it’s not a fair question for them or for me. We won’t ever know, and we don’t need to. How life turned out is exactly what God had planned for me and my family.
When I say I sometimes I forget that I’m Asian, it’s because my family has never treated me and my sister any different than if we had been their own flesh and blood. My siblings and I all love each other and are an equal part of our family. My siblings and I are all loved by my parents equally but uniquely. We all add to our family in different ways, and I cannot imagine our family without any one of us. In the verses above, I see the reflection of the pure acceptance into the family of Christ as believers. How Christ’s sacrifice allows anyone who believes to become sons and daughters of the King.
When I say that I forget that I’m Asian, it’s because I’ve never experienced any REAL discrimination or different treatment because of my looks. Am I blessed much? YES AND AMEN! Yeah, I had kids move their eyes so they were slits at me, but it was never severe. In a prominently caucasian neighborhood, I found great friends who accepted me just as I was. Still living in a prominently caucasian neighborhood, I still forget that I’m Asian, but I don’t skip a beat to make jokes about my ethnicity. Yes, I fall under the stereotypes of loving technology, numbers, and being a terrible driver (being Asian AND a female fits all the bad-driver stereotypes).
I love sharing my story, and hope that you feel comfortable approaching me with any questions! As with many bloggers, I would’ve loved to have grabbed a cup of coffee with you and shared this, but I hope you drank a cup (or pot) while reading this! I really don’t mind if you reach out to me and see if we can make that happen! 🙂
I’m not quite sure how to close this out, other than to say that the statement that I have a blessed life is an UNDERSTATEMENT! God’s sovereignty to pluck me out of Seoul, South Korea, fly me halfway around the world, and drop me in the United States with my family is just AMAZING! Please don’t think that I have this perfect life, as we’ve had our shares of hills and valleys, but I’m forever grateful to Him and the family that has accepted me as their own!