Soorien (34) feels pain and sorrow due to adoption: 'They said: you should be grateful'
5 January 2021

“Do I belong here in the Netherlands? And what would it have been like if I had stayed in South Korea? ” Soorien Zeldenrust from Zwolle has these questions in her stomach. When she was three months old, she was adopted from the Asian country. “A lot of people around me said, 'You should be grateful, you are kind of saved.' Many people see adoption as a kind of fairytale, but I just didn't have that. ” Now, as an adoption coach, Soorien helps people with the same experience as her.

She has no memories of South Korea when she came to the Netherlands. Logical, because Soorien was only three months old when she arrived at Schiphol. Her adoptive parents picked her up. “The only thing that knows is that my body does have memories. I don't have an image, but I do have a feeling ”, she says.

Love sickness

Soorien, now 34 years old, does not feel completely understood. Despite having a good time with her adoptive parents, she feels pain and sadness. “I sometimes compare it to a serious heartbreak or when you lose someone. The advantage of that is that you know the one, but I don't know the one I lost. It hurts me a lot. You experience that pain in your body. I cannot trace who I miss or where exactly the feeling comes from. ”

Soorien thinks the feeling is mainly caused by her adoption at a young age. “It has also been proven that children have a great need for safety from their parents, especially during the first few months and years. I never had that safety at a young age. I was taken away from my mother after about ten days. As a result, my body went into a certain survival mode, ”she says. When she was three months old, she arrived in the Netherlands.

'I look different'

At a young age, Soorien feels that she is different. “I look different. I'm South Korean, so you can see that your brothers or parents look different, ”she says. Around puberty, she can express her feelings more in words. She goes into therapy and joins a discussion group for adoptees. "But that wasn't really my thing." Other care, such as a psychologist, may not help either. Then she finds out that there are adoption coaches in the Netherlands. “Then I started doing that training myself and a few things came up for me. I understood where my behavior came from, why I had certain feelings and thoughts. ”

Her adoptive parents also found it difficult that Soorien is in pain and sorrow. “Of course they had never had to deal with this. They have always been there for me to help. Sometimes they felt helpless. That is logical, I would have that myself if you do not know what is wrong with your child. ”

'That Western is also in me'

Soorien has no contact with her biological parents. “I have been back to South Korea several times. Also with my own family and parents-in-law. I enjoy walking there, hearing the language, smelling the smells, tasting the food. ” It does not change her situation. Moreover, according to her, South Koreans see that she is westernized. “I'm a bit firmer and I don't really look very Korean to them, because I walk, speak and look differently. That Western is also in me. They also realize that. ”

'Your home is who you are with'

Soorien is never a Korean in Korea and never a Dutch person in the Netherlands, that is her experience. “I used to have difficulty with that. Especially when I went to Korea for the first time. Then I thought: I don't really belong anywhere. ” Now she sees it differently. “The country where you live does not determine where you feel at home. Then you can also be at home in other places. ”


Soorien is now an adoption coach in Zwolle, under the name Soo Special . She speaks daily to people who have experienced the same as her. “What I mainly do is make everyone feel that they no longer have to go through the process alone. It's a transformation. I offer them support, so any questions they have about adoption and what they don't understand yet. And if they have experienced something negative, they have often learned something from it. Then we will look at how we can make them stronger. ”

Soorien's feeling does not really go away. With life- changing changes, the feeling is even reinforced. “In my own adoption process, I know this will be there all my life, with ups and downs. When I became a mother and got into a relationship, it was more present. ”

Adoption is not 'something nice'

Soorien hopes that people will understand better that adoption is not just 'something fun'. “In November there was a lot of attention for this topic during Adoption Awareness Month, but it is important for adoptees that this is known to people. That's okay if you have feelings and people don't understand you. That you don't think you're the only one. ”

Soorien advises people to go for foster care rather than adoption. “There are so many requests in foster care and so many children who are desperate for a safe home. They can just stay in their own culture in their own country. I would rather argue for that. ”