Rappahannock Review Nonfiction Editors: “The Incomplete List of What I Lost” focuses on many things and feelings that you lost. Were there any of these things that you were considering including that didn’t make the cut?

Sara Streeter:The hardest part about this piece was figuring out a method to the madness. Do these lost things need to be in order? Does the way they’re grouped matter? I settled on random clusters, made up of both tangible and intangible lost things, things of great value and trinkets. Basically, I hate losing things so much.

RR: The structure of this piece and the Korean words and characters really caught our attention. Was there anything that inspired you to write the piece in this way?

SS: I wanted to portray their names in Hangul (Korean characters) to show their foreignness from me. My Korean family, five older sisters and mother (my father has since passed), don’t speak English, and I don’t speak Korean. I also wanted to break the list of normal lost things with the family I lost because it’s how I live. Some days I can be going about my life, brushing my teeth, working, making dinner, whatever, and then I suddenly remember…well, everything about my life. The realization forces me to stop and reckon with the grief, sort of how the Korean names in the piece might make the reader pause.

RR: We’re compelled by the importance of place in the piece. Did you immerse yourself in one or more of these places as you wrote?

SS: Even though I live in Silver Spring, Maryland, now, I was raised in Williamsburg, Virginia. Many of my adolescent memories are connected to Virginia—bullfrogs singing on the creek, tubing on the New River, the country bonfire.

RR: In your bio, you write that you want to “raise awareness about the inherent complexities of adoption.” Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience?

SS: Being an adopted Korean person, relinquished at birth and adopted at almost five months old to an American family, comes with an immense amount of grief and sadness. Like many of the 200,000 Koreans who have been adopted internationally since 1954, I lost my name, my family, my country and culture. Then, for many adoptees, including me, reunion is not the “happily ever after” many people think it is. Trying to forge relationships with biological family you were not raised with is fraught with challenges. I also want to mention that adopted people are four times more likely to attempt suicide than non-adopted people

RR: Is there anything new you’re working on that you would like to share with our readers?

SS: Next year, I will have a short story in The Cutleaf Reader, the annual print anthology of Cutleaf Journal. “The House Always Wins” comes from my experience living in Virginia and is very close to my heart. Additionally, I’m close to completing a short story called “Counting Sand” about the challenges of a fictional adoptive family and their ultimate tragedy.


Read “The Incomplete List of What I Lost” by Sara Streeter in Issue 11.1.