Matt Burkhartt - About myself and this project

I am a photojournalist. I have spent most of my career working at daily newspapers along the east coast. This project is an exploration of the racial and ethnic identities of Asian adoptees, and their relationships with their adoptive parents. While it is fellow adoptees with whom I feel a kinship, I am just as interested in the narratives of their adoptive parents. 

I was adopted from Seoul, South Korea when I was a little over a year old by my parents, Glen and Cynthia Burkhartt. Two years later, they would adopt my brother, Peter Burkhartt from Chollanam-Do, South Korea. We lived in Syracuse, NY for a few years before moving to Rochester, NY where I grew up and where I call home. 

I have an early memory of asking my mother, "When I grow up, am I going to look like you?" Regardless of what her response was, the answer was of course, no, I would not. When I reached middle school, there was a day when a guest speaker, a Native American woman, asked my class how many of us were white. Growing up in a white world, with a white family, to me, white was synonymous with human; we were all white. So I raised my hand, which was greeted by the chuckles of my classmates and the proclamation of one of them who pointed out my erroneous self-identification. Since that day I have been examining and questioning my identity as a Korean person and an American citizen, although not critically until only several years ago. 

The name of the project derives from a common incredulous question Asian American adoptees receive when asked where they are from. This is only one of the many ways in which, as a Korean American, I have been made to feel like an outsider in my own country and compounds the quandary of where I am really from. With this project, I am seeking to share the stories, and lived experiences and create a visual document of other adoptees and their white families who have chosen to adopt in a predominantly white America. I have embarked on this project to create a home for the stories of other adoptees who have felt, experienced and pondered, nothing short of everything that I have. When other adoptees find themselves asking, where am I really from?, the answer is, wherever you call home. 

Are you an Asian American adoptee in the Rochester, NY or Upstate/WNY area with white adoptive parents? I would love to photograph you and your family and tell your story. Drop me a line and let's get in touch. I can't wait to meet you