It has been 6 months since I started the search process and in those 6 months, more questions have arisen, and nothing has been answered. These developments (or lack thereof) are not surprising to me, however, the emotional toll has taken me by surprise. It probably shouldn’t have given how invested I am with this search, but I am used to having a higher level of detachment to protect myself from feeling anything.

During my previous search, it was much easier for me to keep my emotions and expectations at bay. There was a span of a year where there was no communication with how the search was going, and I think that it allowed for a more detached experience. While I wouldn’t say things this time around have been expedient, there has also been direct contact with individuals on a weekly basis. Having a 14 hour time difference with Seoul, has meant me waking during the middle of the night, sometimes answering emails, and often hoping an email has been sent to me. Being detached this time hasn’t been an option.

Being type A has served me well for most things. As it relates to the search, it has meant acknowledging that this is something that I cannot control. That in and of itself has been incredibly difficult. Combined with my cynical nature, I can admit that the stress of searching is one that has weighed heavily. Day in and day out, at work, at home, it is always in the back of my mind. Wanting answers, wanting them now, and knowing I have no control over any of it has been frustrating. Just when it feels like there could be some information that helps, it turns into a dead end. The pendulum swings both ways and it doesn’t matter which way it swings, it still ends up hitting me in the end.

An Uncomfortable Truth

I was asked to write a letter to my omma with the hope that she responds. While I am thankful I was given the opportunity to do so (I have been told that previously they did not allow this), it was also one of the most difficult things I have been asked to do. There was an intense feeling of sadness, knowing that I was putting a life’s worth of feelings into a letter that may or may not be read by the intended recipient. That it all might be for naught.

I know how pessimistic that sounds, however, it is also very realistic. It makes people incredibly uncomfortable when I speak about the search in those terms, with many only wanting me to “stay positive” or “think positively because anything is possible.” The reality of no reunion is one no one wants to acknowledge. It’s too harsh, too negative, too real for many non-adoptees. Everyone loves a good reunion story, but they don’t want to hear about the difficulties after. They certainly don’t want to hear about searches that don’t even end in a reunion. Yet, for many, this is a reality. I can’t just stick my head in the sand and pretend this isn’t a real possibility for me, nor can I put on a happy face and pretend like a positive frame of mind is the only thing standing in my way.

As cynical as I may be, there’s a reason for it. All of the hope and love in the world cannot shield me from the painful outcomes of this search. That is a truth that cannot be denied. A truth that is a part of my reality.

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2 thoughts on “The Harsh Reality of Searching”

  1. Whatever happens, your strength and determination has been amazing. I don’t know if they allow it, but you might try finding out if you can share an Instagram account name with your birth family. If you can, create an open account that is just for them. Keep it a secret. Don’t follow any accounts and don’t let people you know follow it. Use a separate browser and block all people you know that it recommends. Don’t write anything, so it won’t be searchable by words. It’s not because you don’t want your adoptive family to know (maybe, you don’t), it’s that you don’t want these people influencing Instagram’s people you might know algorithm and adding to video view counts. If you write another letter, give her your Instagram account name and ask her to look at your pictures. You don’t want to say follow me in the literal meaning. In other words, she doesn’t have to click follow because you respect her privacy. Maybe say, when you’re ready, please look at my pictures, as I’ll share them weekly. You might want to use a native Korean speaker, independent of your adoption agency, so you control the Korean written. Anyway, you want to come across as very respectful of her feelings. If someone looks at an Instagram account, they will show up in the suggested list. Plus, you can see video view counts. Pictures say things our words can’t. If you can manage to get her looking at your pictures over a period of time, you might be able to convince her to overcome her fears. When we adopted, this was part of our reunification plan, as our adoption was closed.

    1. Hi Charles,

      Thank you for your kind words and insight. At this juncture, I will have to wait and see what type of response I receive from the letter. I have discussed something with the KAS staff in the event we do get some type of response from it. In order for that to happen, she will need to respond. I know that could mean a few months, it could mean a few years. I haven’t written about it yet, but there are other aspects that may play a larger role with respect to the fear that may or may not be a factor. I am committed to finding out the truth, however, the truth may be far more painful than I anticipated.

      Best,
      MK

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