Foster the People

by Marisha

When I first came to the U.S. as a baby, my foster family sent gifts with me, which included a couple of stuffed animals from the Seoul Olympics and a small photo album.  In the album were pictures of me living in my foster parents’ home with their children.

My parents showed me the pictures several times over the next few years.  I remember confusing the idea of a foster mother with a birth mother, and for awhile, I thought that the woman holding me close and smiling was my birth mother.

When I was old enough to understand, I was disappointed that I wasn’t related to the people in the photos.  Now that I am an adult I am so grateful to my foster mother (and her family) for not just taking care of me according to the requirements of the job, but for going above and beyond in giving me the care and attention she would give her own child.

The way I know that this family did so much for me is that in the photographs they documented a special celebration which means a lot in Korea.  Special birthday parties for certain ages are an integral part of Korean culture.  I was given a party for my baek-il before I left for America.  Baek-il means “100thday” and is celebrated when a baby is 100 days old.  It signifies that the baby has overcome health risks to newborns and has made it to this point.  The family celebrates with generous food displays.  They serve rice cakes which have different meanings, including protection, good fortune, happiness, longevity, and wealth.

My foster family was of modest means.  The father was a bus driver and the mother’s only income came from being a foster mother.  They had three children to support.  Yet they would have had to pay for the feast they provided for my baek-il.  They would have paid for the gifts they sent with me.  I will always be thankful for their generosity and the love they gave me for the short time I lived with them.


  1. Barbara Crawley says:

    Oh my, those are the sweetest pictures, here I am, tearing up again…. clearly you were a well-loved baby! Thank you for sharing the pictures as well as the explanation of the lovely 100th day celebration, Marisha. What a great idea — if I’d known about it when I was a young mother I would have co-opted the tradition for my own family. I guess I’ll keep it in mind for those grandkids (someday)

    • Marisha Castle says:

      Thanks Barbara! I feel really lucky to have those pictures of some memories in Korea when I was a baby. It’s definitely something I cherish! So glad you liked it! And don’t cry! 🙂

  2. Lisa DeNike Ercolano says:

    This just warms my heart! It’s so wonderful that so many babies and children in Korea benefit from the love and affection of foster parents there. What a blessing for Marisha to have known, at some point, the love of three mamas!

    • Marisha Castle says:

      Three mamas! I never thought of it like that! Haha but I definitely was given to the best one 🙂 thanks for reading Lisa. Glad you like my posts!!

  3. Gratitude is one of the best feelings. You are reflecting back the love your foster family showed you….Well done!

  4. Beautiful pictures!! Foster families are such a blessing. I am wondering if you have any ideas for distinguishing between birth family members and foster family members for my daughter? We have many photos of her with her foster family in Korea, but none of birth family (I ask for them in updates, so I continue to hope that we might someday). I’ve thought several times that she might be getting the framed photo of her with her foster mom confused with her birth mom.

    • Hey Karen! How old is your daughter?? 🙂 I never got confused between my foster mother and birth mother because my mum would tell me stories about it a lot when I was younger. I think that helped me learn the difference and I understood that I had no real concrete pictures of my birth mother. I hope your daughter understands and don’t feel weird telling her the distinction a lot and reminding her. 🙂 hope that helps!

      • I’m sorry. I DID get confused, but my parents always explained who they were whenever I would confuse them. SOrry for the mistype

      • She’s only 2- so, I think without having a photo of each, it’s going to just be confusing. I’ll just keep explaining and hope that she understands sooner than later! Thanks so much for your perspective. It confirms what I’d wondered.

        • Yes, explaining their “story” over and over again is so helpful anyway. When Marisha was about 5 I wrote up stories for both my kids from the information we had about their origins and pasts. That way their stories could be read to them over and over. Did you read Lisa’s comment about 3 mamas? I wonder about explaining things that way to little ones.

    • Karen, it did take a lot of explaining, as Marisha says, and without a photo of her birth mother it makes it more difficult. It seems like having a photograph of both, it would be easier because each frame could be a different color and then associations could be made between the red frame, which is the mother who gave her physical traits and the blue frame, which is the mother who changed her diapers and hugged her until mom can do so, etc. Without the birth mother photo, it just takes a lot more words, kind of repeating the same thing over and over.

  5. The story and photos are so full of love. Your foster mother and her family gave you a beautiful beginning. Your head may not remember it, but your heart does.

    • Thank you! I wish my head would remember it as well but it is a part of my past I am glad I can hold dear with visuals! 🙂

  6. What a lovely post, thanks a lot for the insights. I didn’t even know that there were foster families in Korea:) I’m also an adoptee, adopted by my wonderful and lovely Danish parents, but since I was only 3 months old, when I came to Denmark, I don’t have any memories of Korea so I really envy all your nice pictures. Have you been in contact with your foster family ever after?

    • Hey Mitzie! I love your name. Actually, no I haven’t been in contact with them. I know that one day, I would love to connect with both my foster and birth family but I know that I have a lot to grow within myself before I am ready for that very emotional adventure. I am grateful I have these pictures but I’m sure like you, I wish i had a picture of my birth parents to identify physical things or memories I share/shared with them 🙂 take care x

    • Mitzie, I just wanted to let you know that when Marisha was a baby her dad and I wrote a letter to her foster parents, but we never heard back. We don’t know if they got the letter or not.

  7. It’s so wonderful to have these pictures. We just brought our daughter home in April and she came home with photo albums of her time spent with her foster family. We are blessed to have these for her.

    • Wow. Congratulations on your daughter. How special and amazing you adopted her. What is her name? How old is she?

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