May 7, 2021

Ethnocultural Blog #2: What it Means to be Adopted (to me)

Benjamin Roshkov Benjamin Roshkov

So, if you are reading this and have no idea who I am, considering my name you might think I’m tall, white, European accent and have a keen fondness for vodka (particularly Ruskov). Yet when you see me, it’ll just be a short Korean kid (who arguably doesn’t even look that Korean), with less-than-ideal eyesight and an unfortunate inability to hold as much of that aforementioned Ruskov as he’d want. To even further your surprise might be how I speak; nothing but an ocka Aussie twang that resembles no hint of the European my name may suggest or the Asian my face would indicate.

So how was I blessed with this multitude of mismatching and confusing features? Well, in a nutshell, my parents didn’t want me.

Well, actually, to be more specific my biological parents couldn’t look after me. Around 20 odd years ago, my at-the-time 21-year-old birthmother, who was a uni student, had me after spending the night with my birthfather, who was enjoying some time off from his compulsory military service. A weak pull-out game and 9 months later and out I come into the world. The freshest and finest young Korean citizen, a boy named 재민 [1]. Except from that point on, things for this new young Korean citizen were not the same as for the other newborns. Because after being born, my birthmother made the decision to put me up for adoption.

Now, unlike the movies, I don’t have the faint recollection of her face smiling down at me in slow-mo. I was a baby who was in Australia by 6 months old. Heck, I can barely remember the content from my FINA2222 lecture a week ago, let alone what happened from the moment I was born. So, to be honest, I don’t know if it was a hard decision for her. I don’t really know anything about my birthmother. And I certainly don’t know much about the life I could’ve had if she hadn’t put me up for adoption. But regardless, I am very thankful for her choice.

Without her I wouldn’t have been able to come to this beautiful city in this incredibly fortunate country. I wouldn’t have been able to be raised by my loving and caring parents. [2] I never would have been able to meet all my friends who I’ve grown with and created amazing memories with. I never would have been able to feel the utter despair of driving around campus at 8:45am with no yellow bays in sight.

So, while many often think I might hate my birthparents for giving me up and not ‘loving’ me, to be honest I don’t. I don’t ever feel out of place because I was adopted. I don’t feel detached from my family just because my parents don’t quite have the same complexion as I do. I don’t ever wish I hadn’t been adopted, or even really wonder what life would have been like if I hadn’t been. All other complicated aspects of being a human in this world aside, my life is exactly the same as yours. Relatively, adoption hasn’t affected my life in the slightest [3]. At the end of the day, all it means my parents picked me, while yours were just stuck having to deal with you. [4]


Ben’s blog gives an insight into the common and shared experience of adopted children, in being asked questions like ‘does that mean your real parents didn’t want you?’ which associate being adopted with negative connotations of being “unwanted”. Below is an excerpt from the Apple co-founder’s biography, in which he details his reaction to being asked, “So does that mean your real parents didn’t want you?” as a child.

“Lightning bolts went off in my head…I remember running into the house, crying. And my parents said, ‘No, you have to understand.’ They were very serious and looked me straight in the eye. They said, ‘We specifically picked you out.’ Both of my parents said that and repeated it slowly for me. And they put an emphasis on every word in that sentence.”

Jobs has also said, “Knowing I was adopted may have made me feel more independent, but I have never felt abandoned. I’ve always felt special. My parents made me feel special.”

In being questioned about the idea that his adoptive parents weren’t his “real” parents, Jobs has clarified, “They were my parents. 1000%.”


[1] Pronounced ‘Jae-Min.’ This is now also my middle name!

[2] i.e. my ‘adoptive’ parents but I will never call them that – they are my parents as your parents are to you, just without the sex part.

[3] Though I will say this doesn’t apply to all adopted kids. For me it is just the case as I was adopted before I could even comprehend what was going on and my parents made sure I knew the fact I was adopted from as young as I can remember. For others adopted at an older age I would imagine it would be much different.

[4] Well… actually… technically… my parents had no choice in which kids they adopted but if you knew this the end of this blog wouldn’t be so punchy now would it?