Gijeong Gerdes: This Is My Family

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As Youth Takover week continues, Gijeong Gerdes explores what it means to be a family.

I'm a Korean American and thankfully through adoption, I can say that I've been blessed with the most supportive and understanding family. I grew up in the Bay Area and it's pretty diverse here. It didn't seem too weird to me that I didn't look the same as my parents and I was never asked why. But as I grew up, it soon became clear to me. I'm Asian and my family is white.

When I traveled to Asia for the first time since my adoption, that was where I realized how truly different I looked from the rest of my family. My father, a 6’2 Caucasian male, stood out like a sore thumb in Korea, peering over everyone that he stood next to. But me? No, no, no. I blended in. It was pretty eye-opening. If anyone was to look at me standing next to him, there would be no reason for them to guess that we were a family. It was weird. I am 100% Korean but standing there I felt less connected to the place I was born and more connected to the family I had been raised by.

In my opinion, the idea that family is connected by blood is stupid. If that was the case, we would all be disconnected from one another. So how do we define a family? If we look, we can find so many different definitions. Some people say that a family is a group of people who are related by blood and some people say that the real bond is love.

In my experience, family is not about blood or where you're born. They are the people that make us feel safe, who love unconditionally, who make us part of something larger. They make us feel whole. Within the short life I've been able to live, I've created so many lifelong bonds with some amazing people. To me, I consider them family. Who cares if we don't have the same blood in our veins or the same family tree? This is my family.

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With a Perspective, I'm Gijeong Gerdes.

Gijeong Gerdes attends Los Altos High School. His piece was produced with free curriculum from KQED’s Perspectives Youth Media Challenge.