As my birth mother search continues, I am continually reminded of how little control I have over the outcome. The outcome of the search and potential reunion relies on my mother now and her choices. The reliance on her and her choices is eerily similar to when she relinquished me. It’s ultimately her choice, not mine. The irony is not lost on me. In fact, it serves as a harsh slap in the face to the reality of what I have found during this search. The truth as it may be is not what I expected. However, it is what I have been searching for.

More Information, More Questions

Since the last letters were sent to my mother, there has been a concerted effort to connect with her. Someone in Korea made contact with the local government in April, however, that did not yield any significant information. Due to this, they offered to visit my mother’s location to see if they would be able to procure any other details since the signing of the letters by a co-worker baffled everyone who has been helping me with this search.

Last Monday, they went to her location. I was expecting it to be an apartment, however, what they found was that the address for my mother was a restaurant. Which would explain why a co-worker was signing for the letters. They ate lunch in the restaurant, noting that my mother’s name and DOB appeared on license hanging on the wall. As they were paying their bill, they asked the woman helping them if they were the owner. The woman replied that they were not the owner, but it was a family business. Due to their resemblance to me, it is believed that they were speaking to my half-sister.

After lunch, they spoke to the local government. They explained the situation and left a letter as well as my picture. The restaurant is apparently re-locating in September and it is expected that my mother will go to the gov’t when this happens (this is apparently normal in Korea). The gov’t official agreed to give her my letter and photo. At the local gov’t office, they were able to see a picture of my mother, and just like my assumed half-sister, she resembles me. As the conversation continued, the local gov’t official noted that some of the people in the office go to the restaurant and that my mother is known to be hot-tempered.

Hot-Tempered

I did not expect much from the visit. I had prepared myself for them to see an apartment and perhaps have my mother deny who she is (because that’s been her MO). It was unexpected for someone to meet my assumed half-sister. I did not expect the address to be a restaurant, nor did I expect to have any personality traits of my mother being discussed by random gov’t officials. They would have not known that my adoption file included the description from my foster mother as being “hot-tempered” nor would they have known that I would also describe myself as such.

Being adopted into an extroverted family, I have often wondered how much of my personality is genetic. The whole nature versus nurture debate. I remember telling a close friend of mine that I feel as though I have a lot of rage (most people never see it) and they asked me where I thought it came from. I couldn’t say, as I figured it was just an idiosyncrasy.

While it could just be a coincidence, for someone who has never had anyone they resembled, never had personality traits of anyone, this type of information is both precious and heartbreaking.

Low Expectations, Facing the Truth

Throughout this search, I have thought long and hard about who my mother is and what type of person she would be like. While we share DNA, we are mere strangers to one another. The image in my mind has always been a certain way. It’s why facing the reality of who she really is versus who I thought she would be has been exceedingly difficult.

What I know now is that she is not in some precarious financial situation. As the person who visited commented, the restaurant is quite big and they do not believe she is financially unstable. Which means in her life as it is now, with her family as it is now, is how she wants it. It would appear that my re-emergence in her life is not necessarily what she wants or what she ever expected. Hence her lack of response to the letters. While I can’t say for sure and can’t speak for her, I can make assumptions based upon actions.

While the outcome remains in flux, I have started to face the fact that while I would like to reconnect, it’s not to say that she does. As a matter of fact, if I am to read between the lines, it is becoming increasingly clear that she does not. I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t hurt because it hurts like hell. While it would be easier to pretend that it doesn’t, that is also not what the truth is. The truth as it stands is painful, often mired in mixed emotions that are not black and white. Yes, I know about the social stigmas in Korea and yes, I wrote about how I hope she is happy and at peace. I can still hope for that and also be disappointed by her actions.

Reunion or Not, Here I Stand

Rejection is shitty. It’s particularly shitty when it’s your own mother that is the one rejecting you (again). When my first search ended, as I’ve stated previously, I internalized a lot of it and just compartmentalized it away until it wasn’t extremely raw with emotions. This time, I’m far more accepting to feel whatever it is that I am feeling. Right now, I’m at a place where I am accepting who she is as I know her to be. While I would prefer her to acknowledge the letters and even to say, “I don’t want any contact” her response is just no response at all.

I am well aware of the guilt and shame birth mothers feel and have rationalized that many times over. There’s no denying that it is something that some might not ever get over. It is very real. However, I too, am real. While she may want to deny who she is and deny my existence, here I stand. While it pains me to write that, it would be disingenuous not to acknowledge it. And yes, it’s painful and it hurts beyond words. It conjures up issues with abandonment, trust, and betrayal all at once. Issues that have followed me throughout my life and issues that I will continue to work through.

For me, this entire search has been a reminder of how complex searching can be, how exhausting it is to be an adoptee. Nothing is cut and dry. When you think you’ve unlocked a door that will answer your questions, more questions arise. More doors replace the one you’ve unlocked. As it stands, the one who holds the keys for me isn’t even willing to acknowledge my existence. That makes it pretty damn hard to get answers, let alone the truth. There are many things that this search has done for me, but the most significant has been the reminder that not everyone wants to be found. Not all searches end in a reunion.

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