As with many things that are adoption related, closing one door doesn’t necessarily mean the door will remain closed. I fully intended on closing my search, knowing that my mother refuses to respond. Instead, I have decided to keep it open, with the hope that I can find my birth father. While there may be a snowball’s chance in hell that I find him, I owe it to myself to at least try. This means I will be traveling to Korea for the first time since my relinquishment and asking my mother for my father’s information.
I waited to tell my adoptive mother about my birth mother search (I will distinguish between the two for clarity, however, I prefer calling each one mother, no designations). She was supportive of my first search. I was not afraid that she would act any differently this time around. Due to my adoptive father’s death, I wanted to wait until I had some concrete information. I also didn’t want to filter information as it came in because I know she would ask me for updates and it would just annoy me.
I explained the details of the search to her, showing her a photo that ESWS sent me (one she acknowledged she had never seen). Her first response to that photo was to ask me if it was really me. She clearly did not trust the adoption agencies, which was surprising. The second was to say that my birth mother must have her reasons for not wanting to respond to me. I imagined a lot of things that my adoptive mother might say, but that response never crossed my mind.
I didn’t inquire any further as to what she meant. It would just end with her telling me I was being too sensitive and me being annoyed by her lack of empathy. With my father’s death, both of us have been a bit kinder towards one another. It’s not that we don’t get along-it’s that we, at the cores of who we are, are very different people. I told her what the KAS staff said about my birth mother being hot-tempered and she, like me, seemed to see the similarities I share with my birth mother.
On the verge of closing my search, I scheduled a divination reading with a mudang (Korean shaman). I believe my birth mother is not the kind of person I envisioned, but I also wanted to try to find some compassion for her, if I could. Hence, the reading and perhaps more insight into a woman who I resemble, yet who is a stranger to me.
The mudang did not see a happy reunion with my birth mother. That information was unsurprising. I know she does not want to have contact with me and I do not see that changing. The mudang said my birth mother feels that she relinquished me for a good reason (in her mind). Responding to me would be taking that back and make it as though the decision was made for a bad reason. While this seems plausible, I think there is more to her non-response than just that.
I brought up my birth father because I’ve recently begun to believe that he knew about/has known about my existence. The mudang told me that he and his children would want to meet me, however, time is not on my side. Thus the decision to travel to Korea. I did not ask what “time is not on my side” meant as I know enough to not ask questions for which I am not prepared for the answer.
There is little that I know of my birth father beyond his last name (it was spelled different ways so I do not know what is correct) and his estimated age. I gave little thought to him growing up because I didn’t think he knew about me. I was told that my birth mother tried to contact him, but she couldn’t find him. As I looked through my paperwork this year, I found that it states I was “abandoned by father and mother” making me think he did actually know about me.
If that’s true, I can see where my re-emergence into my mother’s life is a painful reminder of her relationship with him. For the bulk of my life, I thought he was unaware of my existence. With the death of my adoptive father, the thought of finding my birth father has impacted me more than it would have previously.
Returning to Korea
I’ve been reluctant to return to Korea, knowing it would be emotionally draining for me. As a child, I was asked repeatedly if I wanted to go and I always answered no. While my return is now imminent, I have been trying to prepare myself for the mixed emotions that await me. I don’t consider myself an emotional (or particularly optimistic) person, so preparing to me means hoping for the best and expecting the worst.
Many things must fall into place for me to find my birth father. I anticipate being in a situation that will be uncomfortable for me, uncomfortable for everyone involved. Knowing that I must ask my mother for my father’s information, I face the daunting task of not only meeting the woman who does not want to face me, but also ask her for information that she’s kept from me my entire life. If I can avoid this and find him without her, I will do everthing in my power to do so. However, without knowing anything beyond his surname, the cards are stacked against me.
I don’t know what the outcome will be. I never expected the search to last this long, much less shifting the focus from my mother to my father. Returning to Korea is something that is long overdue, so if anything positive is to come of all of this, it is that. Being able to connect with my roots is something I feel will benefit me. In what ways, remains to be seen.