Adopted families celebrate Korean New Year

There was no champagne or ball drop, but close to 50 parents and children gathered Saturday at the Grand Haven Community Center to celebrate the Korean New Year. The local celebration was the brainchild of Grand Haven residents Ethan and Jami Cramblet - who adopted their son, Parker, from Korea in 2009 when he was 9 months old.
Marie Havenga
Feb 6, 2012


The Cramblets invited families and their adopted and biological Korean children to the potluck, which included traditional Korean food and dress.

The Korean New Year is a lunar holiday and is celebrated for three days around the second new moon after the winter solstice. It is a time to recognize good fortune, pay homage to elders and ancestors, and celebrate with family and friends. Also known as Seollal, the New Year is a time to reflect on the past and look optimistically toward the future.

“We’re rehashing the adoption experiences we’ve had,” said Ethan, who said he and Jami are in the initial stages of a second Korean adoption. “Adopting is a very long process in general, so it is nice to be able to talk to people who understand your joys, frustrations, anxieties — your good and bad days. We get to see the adults and the kids just get to play.”

Guests brought authentic Korean foods such as bulgogi, mandu, japchae, kimchi and gyungdan to Saturday’s potluck. After dinner, the children dressed in colorful hanboks — traditional Korean clothing worn on special occasions.

The Cramblets invited parents they met through adoption classes and adoption forums on the Internet.

Rebecca and Tim Horne of Fruitport were two of those parents. They adopted Eli, now 3 and 1/2, about three years ago.

“It’s very cool for him to come here and eat traditional Korean food,” Rebecca said. “We don’t have too much of that at home. And he doesn’t normally wear the traditional hanbok. This is a great way for him to try new things and to be able to celebrate something we wouldn’t otherwise celebrate. It’s neat for him to keep those traditions going.”

Ethan Cramblet said the families get together every year for a summer beach day and a winter sledding event.

“I think this will be good for Eli as he gets older,” Rebecca said. “He can meet other children who were adopted from the same country.”

When Rebecca traveled to Korea to pick up Eli, her husband’s Aunt Suzie joined her. Suzie, now in her 50s, was adopted from Korea when she was a baby.

“It was interesting to see adoption through her eyes,” Rebecca said. “It was great to be able to share that with her. She and Eli have a special bond. I think he felt more comfortable with her when we first met because she looked more familiar to him.”

White Pines Middle School seventh-grader Maiya Yu is half-Korean — her father is Korean; her mother is British. After dinner, she helped 2-year-old Grace Sneller put on a traditional hanbok.

“Most people don’t know about hanboks, so it’s cool to see a dozen or so kids running around in them,” said Maiya, 12. “It’s really fun seeing all these other kids.”

Ethan Cramblet said he was impressed with the turnout.

“These fellow adoptees become your friends — and in many cases, your extended family,” he said. “We really do care about what is happening with each other.

Many of the children are very close in age, so this is a great opportunity for them to play together and socialize as well.”


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