Members

S.Y.

was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1991.
My father seems to have been a Korean American doctor in the US.
My mother was originally a Korean immigrant in Japan who wanted to become a student in the US. She brought me to the US with her.

I have never met my father. However, I do have memories of living in the US with my mother until 1998. I lived in many places – -Connecticut, Seattle, Hawaii, and California.
My most precious memories are from San Francisco, which still brings me vivid city sceneries.

In 1989, my mother brought me back to Japan. (This is the reason why I lost fluency in English and Hangul.) For a while, I lived with my maternal great-grandmother. Then, I was living with my mother. In 2003, my mother became ill. After being placed at a local child welfare center, I was moved to a city-owned large capacity institution (yogoshisetsu) in Kodaira City.

More than 60 children of various ages lived at this institution. There were only 9 children in each cottage. However, since there only were 4 rooms per cottage, we were forced to share our bedrooms with one or two other children. (Later on, the institution was somewhat improved when they built divisions in the two-person rooms.)

Our monthly allowance was about 2,000 yen for middle school age children and 5,000 yen for high school age youth. On top of the monthly allowance, our school related expenses were paid for by the institution. We felt lucky that we did not have to worry about money.

There were so many kinds of kids, and they frequently fought with each other. Children who have their parents received parental visits at the institution. They were also able to spend weekends at home. These children were envied by the rest of us. The institution staff tried to be fair with all children. Therefore, they did not allow the group of children to bring their parents’ gifts to the institution. (There always were some kids who did not follow rules.) Many events filled our lives through the year. We particularly liked our Christmas parties, sport events and farewell parties.

I was taken care of by this institution until I graduated from high school. I wanted to attend college. However, I did not have any money. I decided to live in an independent support home (ISH) in Tokyo and to find a job.

[Notes: In Japan, high school education is not mandatory. Foster youth who decide not to go to high school have to leave their institutions at age 15.]