100% real talk with your two new Korean adoptee besties! Hana and Ryan, Korean adoptees from Melbourne, Australia, talk about anything and everything adoption related, including race, gender, birth family search and reunion, and more.
Original podcast music by Domus.
Susan Stam wants you to stay with your feelings... just a little longer
What are you afraid to feel? Fear? Sadness? Anger? Whatever it is, adoptee coach Susan Stam (강선영) wants you to stay with it. And then stay with it a little longer.
Adopted from Korea at the age of 4 years and 7 months to the Netherlands, Susan works as a coach specialising in relinquishment and adoption-related issues with AFC (Adoptee and Foster Care) Netherlands, founded by Hilbrand Westra (our Episode 17 guest!). But the path to becoming a coach wasn’t easy; Susan struggled with her own issues, including a hypersensitivity to rejection so strong that she could "smell it", relationship addiction, and insomnia - issues that only started to heal after she became conscious of her relinquishment and adoption trauma.
In this conversation, Susan talks about her own journey and then shares some strategies for when we feel triggered, for getting out of our heads and into our bodies, for learning to connect to our feelings rather than numbing or pushing them away, and for setting boundaries when you’re a self-confessed people pleaser. And then, Susan catches us off guard by turning the questions back on us, and we both get real about some shit!
Get ready for vulnerability, feels, and some super practical tips that we hope you will find useful!
To learn more or to get in touch with Susan, visit
Bonus gifts from Susan!
Susan’s personal k-pop playlist:
Susan’s go-to kimchi jjigae recipe:
Susan uses Maangchi’s recipe (http://www.maangchi.com/recipe/kimchi-jjigae) with a few tweaks:
• Always make your own stock!
• Substitute red radish if you don’t have Korean radish or daikon radish
• Use preserved anchovies in oil instead of salt (to taste)
• Omit sugar
Ra Chapman is changing the Australian arts scene, one production at a time
We had SO MUCH FUN with this guest and we think you will too. Korean-Australian adoptee Ra Chapman is a writer, actor and dramaturg. She has strong ties with the adoption community and works closely with Asian-Australian and diverse artists.
Ra is one of those people who has been on our list of guests to invite for a long time, but we were just waiting for the right moment—and here it is! Ra’s debut play, K-BOX, which won the 2021 Patrick White Playwright Award, will premiere at the Malthouse Theatre next month (and we are so freakin’ proud of her!).
K-BOX is a surreal comedy with an Australian Korean adoptee main character named Lucy. Lucy has just quit her job, dumped her boyfriend, and turned up on her adoptive parents' doorstep needing somewhere to crash. She's depressed, she's a mess, and she's stumbled across an old cardboard box that was once full of childhood memories but is now completely empty.
Lucy and her parents haven’t always seen eye to eye on everything, but when a K-Pop star mysteriously wanders into their lives and starts asking destabilising questions about her Korean roots, new fault lines are exposed in the family unit that become impossible to hide.
In this episode Ra talks about the inspiration for K-BOX, as well as her transition from acting to writing. Then Ra shares her experience as an Asian Australian actor and writer, and her thoughts on diversity and representation in the Australian arts scene. Plus, we make our acting debut reading a short excerpt from K-BOX, we learn some industry lingo, such as “meat puppet”, and much more.
K-BOX opens at the Malthouse Theatre, in Melbourne, Australia on 2nd September 2022. Book tickets here! https://www.malthousetheatre.com.au/tickets/malthouse-theatre/k-box/
Hana's Korean language learning journey: 10 lessons
Today we're in for a treat! An outcome of some gentle encouragement from me (Ryan), in this episode Hana shares a beautifully written account of her Korean language learning journey thus far. In the loose form of a listicle - because we can't resist a good list on this podcast - here's 10 'lessons' Hana has learned about, well, learning one's original language as an adoptee, how it differs from learning a foreign language as a hobby, the frustrations and joys, the pressures and the rewards. And of course, on brand, this episode gets deep into some feels.
James Han Mattson isn't afraid of the dark: on writing about race, desire, and belonging
In this episode we have the pleasure of speaking to Korean adoptee and award-winning writer James Han Mattson. We start with James' path to becoming a writer and the moment when his Iowa acceptance letter arrived in the mail. He treats us to two readings of his work: an extended excerpt from his recent novel Reprieve, and his essay “Letter to a Stranger” published in the literary magazine Off Assignment, which is about a pivotal moment during his time living in Korea. We discuss some of the themes explored in Reprieve - including the complex intersections between love, desire, and racial preferences - as well as the challenges of learning one birth language in one’s birth country, while you’re also so deeply engaged in your craft as a writer who publishes in English. Finally, James tells us about how his time in Korea changed his writing and gives us the scoop on his new novel in progress, which features a Korean adoptee protagonist.
James Han Mattson was born in Seoul and raised in North Dakota. He reunited with his birth family in 2009. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he is the award-winning author of two novels: The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves and Reprieve, which was a Fall 2021 Book Pick by The New York Times, The L.A. Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, Esquire, Entertainment Weekly, and the TODAY show, among others. He is currently the fiction editor of Hyphen Magazine.
You can follow him on Twitter: @jhmattson or check out his website at www.jameshanmattson.com
Fact and fantasy in adoptee creative non-fiction: Jenny Heijun Wills on writing, consent, and self-preservation
In this episode we talk to the inimitable Jenny Heijun Wills and touch on some of the themes that - we feel - go to the very core of our stories and our storytellings as adoptees. Consent and access. Fact and fantasy. The challenges of charting our way through the stories people expect - often even demand of us since we were children - to aim for something that serves us: the nuanced narratives we deserve to have, and which we are allowed to create and invent.
Jenny Heijun Wills is a multi-award winning creative writer and scholar, whose most notable contribution is the Writers' Trust Non-Fiction Prize-winning book titled Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related, published by Penguin Random House Canada in 2019. She is Professor of English at the University of Winnipeg and is currently writing two novels.
For more on Jenny, head to: https://www.jennyheijunwills.com/
Lee Herrick wants us all to be ok: On finding the fire, faith, and forgiveness
Born in Daejeon, Korea, and adopted to the United States at the age of ten months, Lee Herrick is the author of three books of poems: Scar and Flower, a finalist for the 2020 Northern California Book Award, Gardening Secrets of the Dead and This Many Miles from Desire. He is also the co-editor of the anthology The World I Leave You: Asian American Poets on Faith and Spirit. As well as being a celebrated poet, Lee is among one of the kindest, most generous, and sincere guests we have ever had the pleasure of talking to on the podcast.
In this broad-ranging conversation, Lee treats us to a reading of two poems from Scar and Flower, including “How Music Stays in the Body.” We then speak to Lee about his journey to poetry, about the fundamental fire that drives his art, and his process of coming to peace and forgiveness following his second trip to Korea and an unsuccessful birth family search. Most of all, Lee wants all of us to be ok, and after talking to him we feel that - just maybe - we will be.
CW: This episode mentions suicide.
Read "How Music Stays in the Body" here: https://poets.org/poem/how-music-stays-body
For more about Lee, head to: https://www.leeherrick.com/
Adoptee Literary Festival, 9 April 2022: https://www.adopteelitfest.com/
Invaluable to the Adoptee Community
Hana & Ryan have great chemistry while navigating a whole range of complex adoptee topics with care and respect. As credit to their current and previous contributions to the adoptee network, they are able to host some really amazing guests who help us understand a broad cross-section of adoptee feels.
I don’t say this lightly, hearing stories of other adoptees and Hana’s and Ryan’s personal experiences has been life changing.
Where have you been all my life?
Thank you with all my heart. Your podcast is amazing and has filled a space in my heart. I am learning so much and also nodding my head to the experiences you and your guests have shared. You are incredibly generous to openly and honestly share your stories and the stories of others.