Rebecca Pollack became a Mentor in 2018 and was excited to have a place to grow in her adoption journey. Rebecca is a social worker with a mental health program at Mt. Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital. As a Mentor, she loves sharing her experience with others who have also been adopted: children, teens, and adults.
What would you like to share about your background?
I was born in South Korea and was adopted when I was about two and a half years old. I grew up outside of Binghamton, in Upstate NY. My parents had three biological children prior to adopting me. I have an older sister and two older brothers. In my free time, I enjoy exercising, traveling, and photography. I have been back to Korea twice, once in 2014 and then again in 2016. My first trip back was with a group of adult adoptees, where we experienced Korea as adults. I went back to Korea in 2016 for the International Korean Adoptee Association (IKAA) gathering in Seoul with about 500 adoptees from around the world.
How did your family share your adoption story with you?
My family shared my adoption story with me from the time I was very young. My family shared books with about adoption, as well as Korean items to enhance my knowledge of my culture. I went to Korean language school for a short period of time at a Korean church in the area. I always knew that I was different from my family since my siblings all have blonde/ brown hair and light eyes. I always felt a bit bewildered when I met people who said that I looked like my mom. I would just say “ok.”
What myths or misconceptions did you encounter as an adoptee?
Growing up, even as an adult, people would ask where I’m from. Are you Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, or Native American Indian? I would respond that I was born in South Korea. When I say that I am Korean-American, people want to know whether I’m from North or South Korea. Another issue I encounter is when I have gone to school meetings and provide my work ID, people look at the name on my ID and ask, “Are you married?” Or when walking down the street I have heard Ni hao being directed at me.
When did you get connected to Spence-Chapin’s Mentorship Program?
This is my first year as a Mentor in Spence-Chapin’s Adoption Mentorship Program. After returning to Korea twice and continuing on my adoption journey, I sought opportunities to connect to a mentorship program, particularly with other adoptees. I thought about it in the past, but this was the first time I made more of an effort to identify a mentorship program.
What has been your experience as a Mentor?
I have loved my experience as a Mentor so far! I appreciate having the opportunity to meet and get to know other adult adoptees, especially having the experience to get to know those with a variety of adoption narratives. I also enjoy the opportunity to meet young adoptees and to share our experiences with one another. I appreciate being a part of safe place to share our thoughts, challenges, and experiences with one another.
What advice do you share with young adoptees in the Mentorship Program?
This is the opportunity for young adoptees to share their adoption journey with others as well as to continue writing their narrative. And again, you are in a safe place to share thoughts and feelings where you will not be judged or criticized. This is the opportunity to live your life authentically and feel a bit vulnerable from time to time.
Spence-Chapin’s Adoption Mentorship Program is for adopted middle and high school students. Our program empowers adoptees through friendship, building self-confidence and challenging them to discover and understand their adoption identities and experiences. To learn more about joining the Program as a Mentee or Mentor, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 646-539-2167.