Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Look Back

Lunch at Namsan Tower

In the summer of 1994, as a graduation gift from high school, I had the opportunity to travel back to Korea with a birth land tour. And, it was on this trip that I learned I did not know what I thought I knew about adoption...

I have always known that I was adopted. I don't remember a time not knowing that I was. When I was younger I remember having to explain how I was a sister to my siblings even though we looked different, and there was some teasing, but most kids go through that too, and of course all of the other typical social situations and angst that you have to endure as you're finding yourself. There is something that I did wish for...I always wished that I had a picture to see why I looked like I did. I know sometimes when kids are growing up they don't like the idea of looking like their siblings, parents, or other relatives...pure denial...but that's something I did envy...still it wasn't something that was constantly on my mind. 

Up until 2nd grade I knew 2 other girls who were adopted from Korea. However, we moved and after that I didn't know any other adoptees until the trip. I was pretty naive about other adoptees stories. I imagined that they were just like me. They were born to a single mother, lived with a foster mother, and then were adopted at 6 months old...and if you're familiar with adoption stories you know how wrong I was. Yes, there were some similar stories to mine. However, as we know some were very different. And, really even if there are similarities, everyone's story is unique. For, example there was a girl who had been adopted when she was a teenager and we actually went to her orphanage where everyone still remembered her. One lady told of how her last memory of Seoul was holding someone's hand while eating a hotdog walking on the streets of Seoul, etc...

...and then on a couple of days people were going back to their agencies or actually setting up meetings to meet with family...and I have to tell you...the thought had never crossed my try to search for family or even to visit my agency. I believe it was due to the fact that I was extremely content with my life and I accepted what my original paperwork said. Even after the trip, the thought of searching didn't enter my mind.

The trip was a wonderful opportunity, which I don't think a lot of people experience. We traveled all over the country, sat in the boardroom of the Hyundai plant, stayed with host families, visited Pohang Steel Mill, went to the beach in Pusan, stayed at a local university and learned about our "motherland, being in a foreign land which was "supposed" to feel like home, etc...and now looking back,  I really appreciate the trip and all of the experiences.

I suppose the reason I'm sharing these thoughts are, yes I am an adoptee, I've always known I was an adoptee, my parents would talk about Korea and the details of my adoption, but it wasn't until recently that I started thinking about certain aspects of adoption.

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