Jenna Ushkowitz, Actress, Producer & Adoptee

“Adoption looks different for everyone,” Jenna Ushkowitz says. “Everyone has to go on their own journey.”

Adopted at three months old from South Korea, Ushkowitz grew up with loving parents on Long Island in New York. “I didn't grow up in the most diverse town, but I didn't feel like an outcast,” the Glee actress says. “I got a lot of questions at school because I clearly didn't look like my parents, but I was confident in my home life because I had such a supportive and loving experience from my family.”

International and interracial adoptions come with a unique set of challenges, but Ushkowitz credits her parents for giving her confidence, security, and a sense of belonging. She counts herself as lucky and has used her platform to shine a light on the full spectrum of adoption stories as well as challenge misconceptions on what it means to be an adoptee.

“For me, the most challenging part of being adopted was making everyone else comfortable,” says Ushkowitz. “I had to help them understand something they might not have seen before. Just because I was adopted didn’t mean that I felt abandoned and lived a life of longing.” 

Here, the actor, Tony winner and longtime supporter of talks adoption, identity, and the importance of leading with love.


Did adoption impact your sense of identity?

I feel very lucky that I didn't struggle with this. I grew up modeling, acting, singing and dancing and I had a strong community there. Adoption is a part of my story—a big part—but it’s not the thing that defines me.

Do you have any advice for adoptees who may struggle with their identity?  

I would encourage adoptees to reach out and seek help, advice and support. Adoption looks different for everyone, so trust the process and know that you are not alone.

"Adoption is a part of my story—a big part—but it’s not the thing that defines me."

What advice do you have for would-be parents looking to
adopt internationally?

Once you’ve been matched, do your research! There are communities out there where adoptive parents can go to find support and learn. Especially with interracial families, there can be questions that come up and having a community to navigate those tricky times can be so helpful. As long as you're leading with love, you'll find your way.  

What is the greatest thing your parents did to make you
proud of your story?

I remember often being told by my parents that I was their gift from God. It made me feel special and wanted. They led with positivity and confidence, which gave me those same feelings.

From now to the end of March, we will donate a portion of proceeds from every single order to, which helps families in the U.S. overcome the financial obstacles of adoption. Learn more here.