Embrace yourself: Gray defines what adoption really means

Andrés Bear, Coppell Student Media Web Producer


Amanda Gray is a sophomore at Coppell High School and an honest person. She understands she is an adopted girl from South Korea. She sees nothing out of the ordinary about herself – do you?

“I live in Coppell – and there are a lot of Caucasians and Asians here,” Gray said “Growing up, the ethnic demographics in my schools were always pretty even. With that in mind, in my classes on the first day of school, I would always be asked if I was Chinese or Japanese because those were the only two countries my classmates knew.”

Like a young schoolkid mixing and matching races, adoption is often misunderstood. The mentality adoption is sad and unrelenting has popped up in many facets of American culture – from the image of rowdy kids in lousy foster homes plaguing cinema to armchair psychologists typing their hearts out on the internet.

Gray understands what adoption is. Her story isn’t one full of sorrow, but of joy. A journey not of anguish, but of contentment. Although she was born in South Korea, the life she ended up leading is indebted to Texas.

The Lone Star State and its people brought vibrancy into her life.

Through coordination and agreements between American and South Korean adoption agencies, Gray arrived to the states in December 2002. The Gray family, which had adopted children prior to Gray, forever cherishes the moment when they first united.

“The day Amanda came, there were so many people taking pictures that I’m sure it looked like the paparazzi had arrived, ” Amanda’s mother, Pauline Gray, said. “Even today, our agencies and foster families are interested in how our children are doing and provide opportunities for us to stay connected to the Korean culture.”

Under the Texas sun, Amanda grew up to be a girl keen to form long-lasting relationships and letting them thrive. Within Amanda’s circle of friends, talks of adoption and race rarely transpired.

When spoken to over the phone, Amanda’s close friends were met with questions over her adoption that didn’t fully register. After all, as kids, they didn’t care. Fun was fun. Now that they have grown, different aspects of Amanda’s childhood have become much clearer.

“It is pretty hard to adjust to a different life, different people,” CHS9 freshman Jada D’Silva said “However, it was a perfect situation for [Amanda] as a young child. She got a family that is so loving, and they got such a great kid.”

To say Korean culture does not play a big part in Amanda’s life would be incorrect. In fact, she incorporates it in her day to day fashion by mixing Korean and American styles of makeup.

“I’ve always tried to find a nice balance between my Korean and American culture,” Amanda said “Through my everyday life, I find that balance through my makeup. I’ll do certain aspects of my makeup in a more ‘natural’ way as Korean people typically do. On the other hand, I’ll be more flashy and show a darker style like the American standard of makeup.”

Lipstick and brushes empower Amanda to not hide such a meaningful aspect of her life. Such aspect was experienced firsthand by Amanda when Dillon International Adoption Agency, which facilitated her adoption, gave her the chance to visit South Korea at age 11.  

The trip was a euphoric experience for Amanda as she had not been back to South Korea since the day she left. Being 11, it was a return that was seen through the eyes of a pre-adolescent girl. Before experiencing the existentialism rife in high school and the questions it raises about identity.

The narrow streets and giant crosswalks of South Korea set the years to come. Her face glowing, Amanda left South Korea with a greater appreciation for the culture that brought her into this world. Truth be told, she probably left with a Korean inspired makeup palette as well.

“Amanda puts an effort to be a part of both of her cultures,” CHS sophomore Emily Goodwin said. “She doesn’t just set one of them aside and say it doesn’t exist.”

Amanda’s friends taught her childhood innocence only calls for fun and games – not questions of race. Her return to South Korea opened her eyes to such concepts without a rude awakening. Well, she opened her eyes but as much as others may let the past define who they are, Amanda embraces it with honesty.  

Follow Andrés @_andresbear