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Adopted from Korea: Meg Nyberg’s Story

Oct 25, 2018

A family from Northern Minnesota adopted Meg from Seoul, Korea when she was 6 months old. She grew up shy, introverted, and misunderstood by many of her teachers and peers.

Although she attached to her adoptive parents, whom she loved very much, she struggled with depression. 

On this episode, Meg talks about her repressed grief she and her journey to find peace with her adoption story.

To start the interview, April asks why Meg’s adoptive family first chose adoption, and why they chose to adopt from South Korea.

Meg says that her adoptive mother was unable to have biological children because she was diagnosed with Lupus at the age of 13. Her parents were eventually matched to her after 2 other attempts at adoption.

April asks her what it was like growing up in Minnesota. Meg says that it was tough. First, because she didn’t look like the typical Minnesotan, and second because she was really shy as a child. April then asks her why she thought she was so shy at that age, and Meg thinks a big piece of the puzzle had to do with the separation loss she had from leaving her birth mother at such a young age.

When asked if she attached to her parents right away, she said she attached to her father very strongly at first. So much that she would go up to strangers and introduce her dad as her ‘real dad’ and her mother as her ‘adoptive mother’. This dynamic changed when she was about 4 years old and she bonded very emotionally with her mother--so much to the point that Meg would cry uncontrollably when her mother would leave for work. 

When asked if she had a community of other South Koreans adoptees, Meg said she was very fortunate to be a part of a robust community.

“I had quite a few other adoptees from Korea that I went to school with that were even in my class, and I mean we grew up in a small community of, I think, 20,000.”

This would lead to her going to “Korean Camp”, which April shares can be a very good experience for some, but for Meg, she did not like it. She felt very homesick the entire time she was in camp. In hindsight, she felt her shyness was a result of her processing the trauma of loss that so many adoptees experience in different forms. 

Both Meg and April discuss how adoptees can pick up people-pleasing tendencies that mask the underlying, internal struggles they may have. As a parent, it’s very important to be vigilant and learn the difference between the words spoken and the body language of the adoptee. 

April asks Meg about the pain she experienced and to revisit the loss.

Meg says she experienced a lot of depression growing up. Every time her birthday came around, she grew even more depressed as well. It was the day she lost her birth mom because of adoption. 

To touch on this, April says that a mother and her baby have an unbreakable bond. In fact, April states that a therapist told her that the phraseology of ‘bonding’ is best described when thinking of this in utero connection between mother and child.

Fast forward to the year 2011. Meg was coming out of a destructive marriage and trying to understand why all of her relationships were ending so sourly. She then traveled to New Mexico to connect with herself and figure some things out. While in the state, Meg did her yoga teacher training. Her intention was to work through the depression that she had felt her whole life. 

By working through her repressed grief and channeling that introspection through yoga, she began to realize just how serious it was. She would break down on her mat every yoga session, sobbing.

April reminds listeners just how vulnerable a baby is. Considering that Meg spent the first 6 months of her life in foster care and then to be sent to Minnesota, she said it took some time to work through her emotions. 

She journaled, she talked to people about it, went to therapy, and just shared her story like she’s doing on this episode of ADOPTION NOW. She says that she didn’t have the tools to talk about her story while she was a child, and that’s nobody’s fault! It just took a while to learn how to talk about it. 

Even looking back, she said tried so hard to assimilate and be accepted:

“I look back at pictures of myself from college, and it’s hilarious: I have color contacts, dyed know I just tried so hard to assimilate.”

A part of this desire for assimilation stemmed from her not wanting to upset her adoptive parents. As April says, adoption is a dichotomy. There are many conflicting emotions from the birth and adoptive side of any adoptee’s life.

Tune in for more, as April and Meg delve deeper into this topic and discuss what’s next in Meg’s adoption journey!