Joo Hyun: Seeking Birth Family

•November 8, 2009 • 8 Comments

Joo Hyun, aka Jeremy Stevenson, a very young infant in Korea, 1975

My husband, who was born in South Korea and adopted by an American family at 5 months, has recently made a couple of important decisions. Jeremy is ready to begin looking for his birth family in Korea, and he hopes to travel to Korea in the summer of 2010. These are his decisions—I am publicizing them only to show my support for him. We believe this journey to be very important, regardless of the outcome.

Because the Internet has reduced the boundaries between nations and cultures, we are hoping that people who could help us might stumble upon this blog. Here are a few particulars:

Birth surname: Joo
Birth first name: Hyun
American name: Jeremy Stevenson
Born at: Kwun Boo Jun Maternity Home (#520, Yunhee Dong, Seodaemun Ku, Seoul, South Korea)
Birthdate: January 29, 1975
Weight: 3.5 Kg
Released by: David Livingston Adoption Program for U.S. adoption
Current circumstances: Jeremy is now 34 years of age, married, with two beautiful young sons

Here is a picture of Jeremy today:


Jeremy Stevenson--husband, father, employee, pianist, photographer, and Korean adoptee

At this point, nothing is known about Jeremy’s birth mother—not even a name. She disappeared shortly after he was born. He was placed with a foster mother whom he lived with until he was sent to America for adoption by the Stevensons in July 1975.

Before Jeremy was ready to “look,” we had talked about taking our whole family to Korea—someday, when the kids are older. We still plan to do so later, but this first trip needs to be alone, for several practical reasons.

Through a fellow Korean adoptee, Jeremy found out about G.O.A.L.’s program for Korean adoptees. G.O.A.L. (Global Overseas Adoption Link) takes care of lodging and many other logistics for adult Korean adoptees returning to the motherland; adoptees pay their own airfare. At this point, we are not sure how to finance the airfare, but we do have several months to plan.

One advantage: Joo is not a common surname. It is possible that his name was changed by the maternity home.

If you can help in any way, please contact me, Elena Stevenson, at

Thank you so much for reading. Your help and support will make the biggest difference for our family—and for another one, now unseen, in the Land of the Morning Calm.

Adam, or “That Asperger’s Movie”

•August 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Rose Byrne and Hugh Dancy in Adam

Rose Byrne and Hugh Dancy in "Adam"

Another movie review for The Other Paper in Columbus–and another subject near and dear to my heart–people who just don’t fit the mold society lays out for us. Click here for my review of Adam.

I heard about this movie on NPR, so I jumped at the chance to review it. The Cincinnati screening was sold out–thank you, press pass.

There’s a community that’s grown up around this film. After the credits, I talked to a family whose close friend has Asperger’s. The list of cities where Adam plays continues to grow.

As a screenwriter who’s also an educator, with a family member on the autism spectrum, this film meant a lot to me. I believe it’s the first major film whose lead character has Asperger’s.

In interviews he’s done, Max Mayer talks about how Adam’s problems fitting in and managing social relationships are feelings we can all relate to.

I, for one, am just so glad for the dialogue this film is bringing to America.

And Life Goes On….to District 9

•August 15, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Although I’m too clumsy to juggle actual objects, I continue my juggling lifestyle. I did not obtain a classroom position this year, so I will work as a contracted sub for a local school district. The first day of school is Monday. I continue to do freelance work as the opportunity arises. If you’re interested, here are links to a couple of recent articles.

I enjoyed writing a review of District 9. You might be wondering how I came to write for Columbus’ indie paper if I live in Cincinnati. Last year, an L.A. film publicist I got to know through Finishing the Game asked me to review a film that played in Columbus. I didn’t even have to drive–he sent me a screener. For District 9, I attended a press screening in my own city. Ah, the wonders of turning in work via email. That reminds me–anyone seen that Gonzo doc about Hunter S. Thompson, and the scene where he smashes that primitive fax-machine thing he used to turn in articles?

I’ve also done some work for a Cincinnati webzine called Soapbox–mostly short articles on business news. The feature I did on Asian Community Alliance was really enlightening. ACA addresses the needs of Asian immigrants in our city, which has a small but growing Asian presence. The two community organizers I interviewed were fascinating to talk to.

I feel blessed to meet so many interesting people and ideas through my writing. Teaching has similar benefits. Makes me wonder what this year will bring. I’m up for anything–I have to be.

My Puzzle Piece

•July 15, 2009 • 1 Comment

Well, friends, it’s July…the no-man’s land for teachers in Ohio. They hire in June, they hire in August, but July is when the principals are on vacation.

June was busy. I had several interviews. My restaurant was great about letting me off the lunch shift. I dressed, I portfolioed, I talked. But none of the employment possibilities panned out. Last week, I felt terrible, but this week, I have a different perspective. I want to work for a district that’s a great fit for me–where standards are high, and my creative experience is appreciated. Where I can teach choir and general music, and help children experience how music touches our humanity. Either that place will open up in August, or I will sub for another year. Either way, life will go on and my family will be OK.

I have to find a place and stay there….because of the teachers’ salary schedule, you can’t get hired if you have too many years of experience, and I already have four. I’ve heard that some districts are only looking at hiring new graduates. I’m hoping that does not hold for all. A teacher has so much more to offer ten years out of college. I’m trusting that someone will see my unique gifts, just as I find the unique gifts in my students.

I’m looking at teaching private voice lessons to keep my skills sharp and create income. More information to come. A few freelance articles have come my way. I’m also very happy about teaching summer school for one of the districts I subbed for. The kids arrive on Monday.

In the meantime, let me refer you to one of my favorite blogs, from Seattle’s Pastor Eugene Cho. He has some great thoughts about life not going as planned:

Welcome Back, Kotter

•April 3, 2009 • 3 Comments

Our oldest son, early March 2009, enjoying his first trip to the circus

 I have not blogged in something like eternity. But my older son’s little virus kept me home from work, so I’m taking the moment and running with it.

I’m now working full-time as a substitute teacher, attending grad school on some weekends, and basically, just working to hold it all together. I’m not contributing to the Ningin Asian media website anymore–I really enjoyed it, but there’s just no time. If you write in addition to a full-time job, you have to be choosy. I chose screenwriting.

Cincyscript, my screenwriting group, is Sunday, and I’m taking a treatment for the second draft of my latest project. In the odd planning period at work, I’m reading David Trottier’s Screenwriters’ Bible, and getting some great insights from it. Rest time, allowing ideas to germinate, is key in writing. I may not have much “face time” with my computer these days, but the creative process continues.

The students I work with are full of material. For security reasons, I could never ID them by name or obvious characteristic in my work. But being back in the public schools is something of a learning lab on psychology, adolescence, human nature….it’s all good 🙂

I don’t want to be obnoxious with link-backs to my work, but since Fast and Furious is coming out this weekend, I had to throw this in. Sung Kang is in the movie, and last October, I interviewed him. Fascinating guy. Links are in the previous post. I’ll be seeing Fast and Furious for a Girls’ Night Out on Saturday. Is that not a riot? GNOs usually involve a chick flick, but I was set on seeing this movie opening weekend. Even if you don’t normally go for action, you gotta hand it to Justin Lin. He brings a special artistry to the genre.

Well, that’s the Kitchen Sink for now….

My interview with Sung Kang

•October 15, 2008 • 2 Comments

Yes, that’s right my friends….somehow, in the midst of motherhood and my job search, I carved out some time to interview Sung Kang by phone. This incredible actor (Tokyo Drift, The Motel, Finishing the Game, Mad TV’s K-Drama) is also co-owner of Saketini Creative Asian Cuisine. So we talked about food. And to quote the Purnell’s sausage man, “It’s goooood.”

Read Part 1 of our interview here.

And part 2

Lucky Thai Joint/Hurricane in Ohio

•September 16, 2008 • 8 Comments

Did you miss me? I haven’t been online the last couple of days, thanks to an Ohio hurricane. My whole life, Gulf of Mexico hurricanes have snaked up to the Ohio Valley, but left only torrential rains. This time, Hurricane Ike brought little rain, but wind gusts up to 77 miles per hour. Our power went out, and were it not for the lucky Thai joint, we’d have had no hot food.


The blackout started on Sunday afternoon, in the middle of my Facebook session. We kept thinking it would come back on. It didn’t. I left for work at my weekend waitressing job, and heard the radio announcer say, “Don’t go out unless you have to.” My restaurant’s shopping center was a ghost town. My manager met me at the door and told me to go home. The wind was whipping up something awful by then.


I called my husband. He wanted me to bring home some Wendy’s. I passed two—the power was out at both. The power was on at Burger King, but it would be “an hour for food…we’re waiting for the fryers to warm up.” I was on my way home when I saw it—neon lights at the Thai joint. Miracle of miracles, I had gift certificates to this place (earned by writing advertising for them a couple months ago).



The place was packed. I placed a to-go order for two pad thai, chicken satay, and spring rolls. The yoga studio next door had power, so I chatted with a sweaty yogi while I waited. “I just had to go to class tonight, despite the weather—it’s my first time since having a baby.” I love Thai food any time of the day or night, so I couldn’t help but laugh when some guy came in, took one look at the carryout menu, and left. It was the only restaurant open for miles! Come on. I know it’s the Midwest, but branch out a little.


I took my food home; we ate by the dim daylight. The yard was covered in debris. My husband, who’s a complete Flickr addict, kept stopping at the computer, forgetting that he couldn’t get online. I read The Week, my favorite news magazine, cover to cover. Meanwhile, we listened to the radio. Almost everyone in the Cincinnati area was without power, and the estimates for getting back on were up to a week.


The next morning, it took me hours to wake up without coffee. Almost all the traffic lights were out, and most every business was closed. At Starbucks, people were waiting to charge laptops, but all I wanted was my joe. I passed a second closed grocery store before finding a Meijer (similar to Wal-Mart). I dove into a pile of people to get one measly bag of ice, then rushed home to fill the cooler with a few dairy items. Later that day, Jeremy and I agreed we should go to his parents’ house. We were just packing up when the power came back on.


Hallelujah! We lost a lot of perishable food, but sustained no property damage. In comparison to the victims of many other natural disasters this year, we’re very blessed. And thanks to the lucky Thai joint, we didn’t miss a single hot dinner. Hurricane in Ohio—it could have been worse.