(Tia is chilling in Comfortable Adventures' Hemp Send Pants & printed Hemp Crop Tank)
Tia is a climber and a transracial Korean-American adoptee based in Los Angeles, California. She is serving her community through childbirth education and birth work. Check out her interview with her below.
Where are you from? Where are you now and how did you end up here?
I was born in South Korea but was adopted a few weeks after my birth and came to the US, specifically California. I lived in Oregon briefly but came back to California after high school because I honestly really didn’t like Oregon.
We loved seeing all the beautiful vintage pieces you've collected and kept from your parents throughout the apartment. What do they mean to you and who or what has influenced your style?
When my parents were younger (and together) they traveled a lot and lived overseas for a good bit of time in Singapore and Nepal as teachers. They had some amazing pieces they had gotten during their time abroad and when I inherited a lot of it from my dad, I knew I wanted to integrate it into my own home. Style, like many other things about me, is constantly evolving and reworking itself. I would say my style now is eclectic. I like what I like for various reasons. The pieces in my home you saw I like because they belonged to my dad (and they’re also rad).
We love the work you are doing through Samshin Birth. Can you tell our audience what Samshin Birth and what it means to you?
Being a birth worker is very important to me, as is adoption information, and the two are very interconnected. Using the Samshin (삼신) Birth IG allows me to intertwine both of these narratives and provide insight and information on both.
I know being a transracial adoptee is a big part of who you are. How are you using Samshin Birth as an outlet?
There is a lot of misconception about adoption in the mainstream. Much of what we hear is from adoptive parents or adoption agencies, instead of from adoptees themselves. People (including adoptive parents) need to acknowledge that adoption is a business, adoption causes trauma, and adoption separates families. Adoptees often aren’t afforded the same rights as non-adoptees, such as access to their birth paperwork, access to their birth/first parents’ names, things like this. Inter-country adoptees (children from one country adopted into another) are not always granted citizenship in their adoptive countries, which is a huge issue.
There is a lot of trauma surrounding adoption from the perspective of an adoptee. It’s a lifelong journey because one can never be un-adopted. A person can be what’s often referred to as “in reunion” with their birth/first families but that mark of adoption will always be a part of you. You’ll find an amazing community of adoptees online who are making their voices heard. I use this space to connect with other adoptees as well as people interested in birth.
What first got you interested in becoming a doula?
I went through a long meditation some years back on what I felt called to do and through a series of fortunate acquaintances it led me longways to birthwork. I really enjoy teaching and sharing knowledge. One of the best ways to support a birthing person is to share information and knowledge so that person can make informed decisions. Every birth and baby are different and I like to help honor that. Also, there can be great harmony is merging cultural traditions and modernity, these things are not mutually exclusive.
Witnessing firsthand, there is a lot that needs to change with how our medical system treats pregnant and birthing people, especially Black birthing people who are 3-4 times more likely to die due to childbirth related complications. I want birthing people to realize that they should the ones in control of their care.
Babies aren’t pizza, they aren’t delivered they’re birthed.
Each birthworker can share a multitude of experiences and wisdom, some specific to their cultural heritage. There are shared cultural experiences around the world when it comes to birth and it’s really quite awesome to see the similarities. I would also say appropriation unfortunately can be a part of some people’s offerings. If someone is integrating a practice not indigenous to them, it should be done with respect, care and honoring of the indigenous lineage it was obtained from.
What aspects of being a doula are you most proud of?
How has being a doula and a climber has shaped you to be who you are today?
Climbing has definitely been something that has had one of the largest impacts on my life (maybe besides being adopted) since it has been a part of my life almost as long as I have been alive. It is also the thing that connected me with my dad the most, so I think that by continuing to climb, I am able to honor the lineage and pass on the knowledge I learned from him.
Through climbing, I have experienced a lifetime in seemingly passing moments, joy and grief, fear and excitement, serenity and unbalance. It has taught me that the mind is stronger than the body but that both must be in harmony. I’ve also learned that the longer you are in this sport, the more people you know will die. It’s a tragic lesson but one I think is important to acknowledge.
What projects are you working on currently?
Climbing has taught me that the mind is stronger than the body but that both must be in harmony.
Is there anything else you want to share with us?
Also, sometimes in climbing run-outs are unavoidable, but you got this.