Saturday, May 19, 2012

Piece by Piece

In the spring of 2010, I finally filled out the paperwork to start searching. I even had it notarized. Again, I didn't turn it in. One thing that Matt would ask me every time I would mention it was, are you sure? And, I suppose I really wasn't the paperwork sat in a bag. 

In January of 2011 we started the process to adopt Gavin...and that's when I started to really think about how adoption had affected my life, or if it had. As you may have guessed, this is when the thought of sending the paperwork to start searching really started calling to me. I think my logic was, well it's the perfect time to submit it since we'll be in Korea picking up our son. I specifically wrote that I am extremely interested in meeting my foster mother and really don't think there is any information about my birth mother to be found. I submitted the paperwork in February...and like all things with the adoption process- waited.   

April 15, 2011
This is a day that I will always remember. 
I was driving to pick up Matt from work and from there we were picking up friends to travel to my parents house. While in the parking garage I noticed I had an email from my social worker. It asked do you have time to talk? I immediately thought, okay I suppose that they are just calling to tell me that they couldn't find any information. So, while waiting for Matt I returned her call. To my complete shock it was the exact opposite. ESWS said that they knew my birth parents were married, they knew their names and ages, and they didn't think they could find them since they didn't have their id numbers, and I was relinquished due to extreme poverty...and I was completely numb. She encouraged me to think of any other questions I might have and to feel free to email them to her. I barely held it together through the whole conversation, and when I hung up,  I lost it. I really hate to cry and usually try not to, but there was no holding back. 

*when I read through this email the other day, it brought tears to my eyes. I had forgotten that they had said they couldn't find them.

*before I found out all of the info, I used to tell people all of the time that I was born to a single mother, and it was no big deal. When I started looking at some of the adoption forums, people would write about how they are not sharing their child's story it's up to them, and to be perfectly honest my thoughts were rather flippant...what's the big deal. But, when I started learning all of this information My lips were completely sealed. It wasn't that it was embarrassing it was just that it was so intensely personal I couldn't really talk about it to anyone except for Matt. 

April 24, 2011
On April 24, I sent the following questions:
1. Was Eastern able to find information about my foster mother? That really was my main goal in the first see if I could find and meet her when we  travel to Korea.
 2. ...............................................................................................................................................
 3. Since Eastern believes that it would be hard to find my bio fam. due to not having their ID #s, would they be willing to share their names with me?
 4. Do you think my name in Korea was from my bio fam or did the agency give me the name: Nam, Hyun Rae?
 5. If I visit Eastern when I go to Korea, do you think they have even more info. or do you think this is it?

                                                                       May 13, 2011
My questions were more than answered.

1. They knew my foster mother's name. However, she was only a foster mother during the time I was with her and then she stopped. They were unable to locate her.
3.   Since the birth father’s name is not common as a man’s name, I did further search on him for in case.  So I obtained the address of the couple who are assumed to be the birth parents. xxxx  Please let me know if the adoptee wants further search of the birth parents.  According to the letter dated Feb. 16, 2011, it seems the adoptee is interested in locating the foster mother...
4. There is no report on who named the adoptee.
5. I think we provided all we have in the file to you.  I realized that there is no birth time of the adoptee on Initial Social History report.  The adoptee was born at 11:40 am on Nov. 2, 1976 and the birth place is Lee, JungJa Maternity home in BongCheon-dong, KwanAk-Gu, Seoul.

*I am forever grateful to the person in post-adopt at Eastern who took the time to do further research. 

-and as we know, I kept going...

June 16, 2011
Search forms are sent to ESWS.

June 29, 2011
They have located my birth parents. This is when I found out that my birth father had named me. One more piece- they said that my siblings were unaware of me. 

Looking back at emails sent from my social worker, I realize I should have been writing down my thoughts and feelings about what was happening. But, I think it was all surreal to me, and I really didn't even know what to think...I see in the email from June 29, that rep. from ESWS was going to give my birth parents a brief bio and picture that I had composed, which I had forgotten I had done. After finding out that they had located my birth parents, I put together a small photo album and a letter to send to them.

From June until April we wrote letters back and forth. The exchange was between me and my birth father. All of the letters were signed by him and when I asked my social worker about that, she said typically that is what happened. However, when you meet in Korea a lot of times the birth mother takes over. 

Sentiments that were exchanged included: 
How sorry my birth parents were for relinquishing me.
How thankful they were that I had such a good family. 
Information about family

When I first saw the pictures that were sent from my birth family to me...I did not think I looked like them at all, which was really disappointing. I imagined we would look like cookie cutter spitting images of each other...and I did wonder if they really thought I was their daughter. Taking a step back, I know that most families resemble each other, but they are not necessarily spitting images of each other. However, meeting them in person and seeing pics of myself with them have erased any doubts at all. 

During this time there was a lot to think about. I can't even articulate all of the different emotions I was going through. Matt's main concern was for my well being. He kept telling me to think about the worst thing that could possibly happen at the meeting...which was really abstract, since I couldn't imagine what that would be. Thankfully I was able to email back and forth with some adoptees who had gone through the reunion process. In addition I was able to join an online group of adoptees who had been reunited with their birth families. That was the best way to learn different reunion scenarios. It was also another learning experience to find out how other Korean adoptees felt about being adopted and adoption in general. 

Something that was continuously on my mind was will my birth father and birth mother tell my siblings about me? Will I get to meet them? I kind of obsessed over that. Matt finally said you're assuming that your family in Korea has the same type of relationship that you have with your family over here...It may be the exact opposite. I really needed to hear him say that. He was 100% right in his thinking, and it made me calm down about the whole topic.  

We considered the possibility of  traveling before we picked up Gavin to meet them. However, financially it was not feasible and I definitely needed Matt there for the support. Or, me traveling after we had returned after picking up Gavin. However, if something happened to someone and then I had missed the chance to meet them, I knew I would have regretted that decision for the rest of my life...and honestly that is  what drove me to make the decisions that I made through my journey to my birth family...would I regret later on in life if I hadn't made the next step? 

The answer was always yes.

By the time April of 2012 rolled around I felt that I was ready. At first ESWS couldn't get a hold of my birth parents...which made me nervous. Eventually they got a hold of them and my birth father said that I would be meeting all of my siblings! ...and then ESWS wrote again saying that my birth father mentioned they wouldn't be able to come to the meeting, which was really disappointing. But, my social worker said you never know what could happen...

...and her words definitely came true!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, it's wonderful that they were able to find your birth parents. How cool that you were able to meet them and your siblings.