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The Adoptee Paparazzi: My Conversation With Kim Jackson

There are a number of fantastic adoptee books out there and I’ve very much enjoyed reading some of them. However, the adoptee book that “gets me right here,” that I love the most, has to be HERE: A Visual History of Adopted Koreans in Minnesota by “The Adoptee Paparazzi” Kim Jackson and Heewon Lee.

Image from

For me, HERE is an important blueprint for our community. I’ve been crossing my fingers since its release that the right things happen at the right time so that a follow-up happens. Man! It would just be the best if some people stepped forward with seed money. Could one of those people be you..?

Land of Gazillion Adoptees: Your two kids are awesome. Would you mind sharing a little bit about what they’re like?

Kim: Thanks so much for the kind compliments. They are pretty awesome, until the clock strikes midnight….and then they get even more awesome because they usually sleep through the night. Jessie, a.k.a. Butter, is 19+ mos. old and Olin is 4+ years old. Baby Butter is a nickname that Olin gave Jessie before she was born; now he just calls her Butter. Yes, he does know her actual name.

So you know everything I’m about to say about them is going to be biased, just to provide this disclaimer up front. I think I have the most beautiful and intelligent kids on this planet. (All of my friends’ kids come a very close second, though!) Both are pretty comical, smart creatures. Jessie picks up a lot of her antics from her older brother, and where Olin picks up his ranges from Gene Kelly to Pocoyo I believe. They love being outdoors even when it’s über hot or cold outside, it doesn’t matter. They love chocolate (they get that from their dad) and love soups and noodles (they get that from me). Other favorite snacks of the day (could change tomorrow): popcorn, strawberries, M&Ms and suckers (preferably blue colored). Olin loves, loves, LOVES trains, and Jessie loves, loves, LOVES baths. They’re starting to play with one another fairly well, but still learning how to share toys and food, which I’m guessing might be a life-long thing. They’re pretty happy kids, unless they are waking up from a nap too early, but then who is?

Land of Gazillion Adoptees: Your book is my favorite adoptee book of all time. Do you have plans for another?

Kim: Wow, thanks again for the kind words. It really means a lot to me that is your favorite book! I’ve always had in mind to do a series since there are thousands of us here in MInnesota; we couldn’t all fit in one book. However, with raising kids, having a full time job, and knowing now what it takes to create a book like this…well, it’s going to take some time to continue a series (I even had a working title in mind for the next one: “HERE AGAIN”). That all being said, I am in the very early stages in partnering with AdopSource and Rainbow World to help create a “HERE TOO” book, which will springboard off of the HERE book format and will include representation of other adoptee communities in Minnesota.

Land of Gazillion Adoptees: Nice… What was the best part about creating HERE?

Kim: Ah, I’m not sure where to begin…or end this question. There were (and still are!) so many best parts. I loved the opportunity to learn how to photograph people and groups of people in a documentary format and to meet individuals and families along the way. I loved the privilege of being able to go into people’s homes and/or events to do this and the trust that was given to me to photograph them, and to know all who supported the project from incubation to publication. I love road trips so it was always, always wonderful to drive around the state and to get reacquainted with the highways and landscape of Minnesota. I loved working with the collaborators who were a part of the book project: Heewon Lee, JaeRan Kim and Kim Park Nelson. And I love the memories of the project that I still have, despite having two kids (and age!) who have chipped most of my short term memory away; I will treasure these memories of the project.

Land of Gazillion Adoptees: Would you mind sharing a pic from the book?

Kim: The photo that I’m including is one of my favorite “kids photo,” Emma and Matt, in their home where they donned their Mickey Mouse caps for me. I photographed them before I had kids and now when I see this photo I think of Olin and Jessie.

Image from Kim Jackson

Land of Gazillion Adoptees: Awesome… So, ah, anybody out there with some seed money? I guarantee that the end result will be worthwhile. Not convinced? Go check out the book in the Minnesota Historical Society Library…after MN government shut down ends or go to Yeong & Yeong.

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