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Love Letter

The Love family at their home in Pleasant Hill, Oregon.

The following story is written by Jordan Love, an employee at Holt International and and adult adoptee.In the past year, I have really felt more of a tug to speak about my life. Since I have dwarfism and stand at only 3 feet tall, most of the conversations I have about my life have to do with that. But lately I have had a strong desire to discuss my other source of individuality – the fact that I am a Korean adoptee.  When I was 4 years old, I was adopted from Seoul, South Korea through Holt International Children Services.

In the past few months, I have read about the Russian adoption situation and have seen several news articles about families that have had negative experiences with international adoption.  This has definitely played a role in my willingness to speak more about my adoption experience. The main reason it has been on my heart, however, is because of a trip I took in 2011. In December of that year, I had an opportunity to go back to Seoul for the first time through a trip called the Happy Together Tour – a trip for Korean adoptees who have some sort of disability, either physical or mental. It was a whirlwind, week-long experience and gave me the opportunity to visit my orphanage, look at my adoption file, and also spend time with my past caregivers, my housemother, physical therapist and teachers. I felt so much love that week, a feeling I tried to express to my caregivers despite the language barrier. It was an amazing trip, and I will cherish it for the rest of my life. This trip changed me and put a passion into my heart for how much adoption has formed me into the person I am today.

 My Adoption Story

 I can only talk about my own experience.  I understand that all adoption stories are different and have their own difficulties and joys. I don’t want to tear down anyone else’s experiences.  I just want to tell my story – my “Love” story.

I was found abandoned in the streets of Ilsan and was brought to the Ilsan Holt Orphanage, where I stayed until I was adopted. I was placed in the “Love” house at Ilsan and was cared for by loving housemothers, including Molly Holt.  The Ilsan Orphanage is where the physically and mentally disabled orphans stay and receive special care. These children are called “special needs.” And I am proud to say that I am a special needs adoptee.

My parents Dwayne and Jackie Love lived in Pleasant Hill, Oregon and had previously adopted a sibling group, and an older child from Korea. My mother saw my picture in Holt International magazine, called up my dad while he was working as a truck driver and said that she had found their next son. She called Holt International and inquired about me.  Apparently I was in hot demand, because another family was in the process of adopting me at the time. Fortunately, the other family decided not to go through with the adoption, and after a couple of weeks, my mother got a phone call asking her if they were still interested in me.

My parents made a lot of adjustments upon my arrival home. Adding a new member into a family is always hard, but because of my dwarfism, I also had some physical limitations that would require surgery. From about the age of 5 to 21 years old, I underwent 13 surgeries. A lot of my childhood was spent at Shriners Children Hospital in Portland, Oregon—having surgery, recovering from surgery, or having the doctor to tell me that I needed another surgery. My mother never left my side during those times. As much as I feel my childhood might have been stolen because of all the surgeries, all that time was spent with my lovely mother.

My parents are both Caucasian and had two birth children before they started to adopt.  About a year and a half after I was adopted, they fostered my older sister, Trisha, who is mentally handicapped.  They later adopted her.  My parents went from being a family of four, to a family of nine in two and a half years.   They always told us that our birth parents loved us and chose to give us a better life by making the hard decision to put us up for adoption.  I never have to question that.  I believe it to be true.  Throughout my life – from birth to the orphanage – there was never a gap in love.  I always had a certain protection that never made me question my identity.  My birthmother knew she couldn’t take care of me and made the hard decision to give me up.  Could she have gone about it in a different way?  Sure.  I was found wandering the streets of Ilsan.  For how long, I’m not sure.  But I have to believe that my birthmother didn’t have a choice. My adoptive parents have always been open and honest with me about my past and my adoption, answering any and all questions.  They made me who I am today, and that’s all that matters.

As much as these next few words might be a little controversial, I’m going to say them anyway: By adopting me, I believe my parents saved me.  I know a lot of people that would be offended by that statement and disagree with me, saying that I could have had a successful life in Korea with my birthmother.  My parents would never claim that they saved me, and would probably say that I’ve blessed them just as much as they’ve blessed me.  But listen to what I’m saying. By adopting me, my parents were able to provide me with access to quality medical care – care that I needed to survive.  But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Today, I am in a place where I am more accepted and have more opportunities to grow and succeed – opportunities that, because of my disability, I would have never had in my native land.  This is why I believe my parents saved me.  They gave me the best opportunity to be successful and accepted.

Being disabled and only 3 feet tall is hard to explain.  But this is my life.  I don’t know any different. For me, the shortest and best way to explain it is like this: Imagine requiring special assistance in every part of your life. From a stool to help you reach the bathroom counter, to pedal extenders and a booster seat to help you drive, to asking strangers to reach something at the grocery store. I am very fortunate to live an independent life, but I constantly need help by something or someone to get through my day.

As I look at the landscape of international adoption and observe how it’s shifting toward special needs adoption, it’s my desire to be a voice for how much being a “special needs” adoptee has helped me in my life. I know I would not be as socially accepted in South Korea. I know that the medical care I received from Shriners Children’s Hospital was the best care I could have received in the whole world.  And even before I was adopted, I received special care at Ilsan.

One person I cherished the most during my short time in Korea was my physical therapist at Ilsan, who I was able to see for several days when I traveled to Korea two years ago. Because of my disability, I spent a lot of time with her. I had a lot of pictures of this lady when I was adopted and was able to have those photos explained me. She told me that she would take me on special trips.  She expressed how grateful she was to see me as an adult and how well I turned out.

Jordan and his physical therapist in Korea-2011

This amazing woman loved me without condition.  When I was adopted, she held onto the few photos she had of me and told me she would think about me often. Just another example of how well I have been cared for throughout my life.I am never going to be shy or ashamed about the labels I am given.  I am a Korean Adoptee.  I am disabled, and I am a special needs adoptee. But I am not any less of an American, or any less of a member of society. All of those labels define who I am as a person as much as my last name defines me as a member of the Love family. I am Jordan Love, and I am not going to let any of those other labels pigeonhole me or allow me to make excuses for what I can or cannot accomplish.  Through those labels, Ihave been given a voice, a platform to speak about my special situation.

I could tell you that I have been successful because of my own drive and determination.  But that would be disingenuous. I have been successful because of the people who have cared about me.  The people who gave me a little bit of themselves. From my birthmother, to my housemother, my physical therapist and my parents. I am a reflection of all of them.  My success comes from them. I thank them for their sacrifices, and hope that I can make them proud – showing them how much a “special needs” adoptee can accomplish in life.


19 comments to Love Letter

  • Scott

    Way to go Jordan! Truely an inspiration for everyone!


  • Michelle

    Wonderful story — thanks for sharing, Jordan. I love that your last name is “Love.”

  • Abbie

    Jordan your story brought tears to my eyes, thank you so much for telling your story!

  • Robin

    Jordan, this is beautiful. It brought tears to my eyes too.

  • Cindy

    Your story will inspire so many!

  • Bonnie

    Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your story! Kleenex plz. What an amazing tribute to those who love you and to the remarkable person you are. Thank you, truly inspiring! Bonnie

  • Amy

    Thanks so much for sharing Jordan- I LOVED it!

  • Susie

    You are a fantastic co-worker and friend, and apparently a gifted writer as well! Thanks for adding your voice to the discussion, I really value your perspective and feel honored that you are willing to share about your life experience with all of us. Way to speak up!

  • Alycia

    Wow – Jordan I feel like I have learned so much about you. You are an amazing person and have such an interesting history and outlook on life. I am so glad I happened to read this tonight. Thanks for sharing such a personal and touching part of who you are with us. I am honored to work with you! Congratulations on a beautifully written article! Alycia

  • Matthew

    Wow, inspirational, and life uncommon. Truly the divine hand of God has been at work in your life. Thanks for sharing.

  • Khrisi Thiele

    Jordan is my nephew and the most amazing man I know. As a family we love him with all our hearts. God has blessed our entire family with Jordan and we are better people for knowing him. Love you kid!!! You make me so very proud!

  • Lois Bridge

    Dear Jordan, you have been more of a blessing to our famliy than we could have ever been to you. You brought smiles ,love and sunshine into Uncle Larry and My life. Time with you in Alaska will always make me laugh and smile but most of all it makes me know that nothing is impossible if you want it and Belive God will Provide. Sorry if things are misspelled but it is hard to type with tears in my eyes. I’m am proud to say you are my Nephew Love Aunt Lois

  • Krista

    I enjoyed reading your story- you write well and from the heart. I am so glad that you have had so much love in your life!

  • mary ramsey

    Thanks Jordan for this beautiful story. You are like a giant that’s 10 ft. tall. Love Ya.

  • Amy

    WOW….What a true LOVE story that is! Thanks for sharing, and bringing a tear to my eye! 🙂

  • Colin

    Very well written and a beautiful testament to family, faith and how you are loved!

  • Donn

    Over the few years I have known you Jordan, I have become less aware of your height and more aware of your character. Thank you for your honesty and courage. And for sharing with all of us. You are more than a conqueror!

  • Tara Love-Archuletta

    I love you my little brother. Way to go…never be ashamed of who you are. You have blessed so many people. I can’t imagine our family without you!

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