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Once They Hear My Name

Tamarisk Books; $14.95

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The voices that speak throughout Once They Hear My Name: Korean Adoptees and Their Journeys Toward Identity (Tamarisk Books; $14.95) make riveting reading for any adoptive parent. Nine adoptees share candid stories of growing up adopted, struggling to fit in with classmates or colleagues, and searching for their birth families. The youngest interviewee is 25; the eldest, 53.

Several of the adoptees profiled here struggled with challenges that many young people face: parents who divorce, depression. Yet, for some, their adoptive status compounded their feelings about these events; one woman recalls worrying, as a child, that her adoption caused her parents to divorce.

Regardless of the age of the speaker and the circumstances of his or her life path, two common threads emerge: the subjects' appreciation for their parents' willingness to embrace their search for their roots, and their view of themselves as continually evolving Korean-Americans.

I thought about my own son when I read Todd Knowlton's account of the racist teasing to which he was subjected in elementary school. While I won't always be able to defend Jake from taunts, I fervently hope we can help him build a strong core with which to endure them. And I was moved by Ami Nafzger's account of the pride she felt as a Korean-American adoptee after years of living in both Korea and the U.S. I dream for Jake of a world where he'll feel at home in both of his cultures--the culture of his birth and of his family.

Reviewed by Amy Rogers Nazarov, a freelance writer and parent by adoption. She and her family live in Washington, D.C.

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