It’s been just a little over five years since I set foot back in Korea for the first time since being adopted. It still feels like yesterday. For the first time in my life, I completely blended into the crowds, whether it was walking through the mall or riding on the subway. I’m sure the “real” Koreans could tell I was a foreigner, but in my mind, I just fit right in. I remember how bittersweet the plane ride back to the States was and how I resolved to make my stay in Korea much longer the next time I visited. Since that first trip back just five years ago, so many things have happened that I couldn’t have even dreamed of. I married a Korean adoptee, met her birth family, who accepted me as another son, and went back to Korea two more times. You would think that all of these things would make me more satisfied, but deep down, I really have more questions than answers.
I’m getting ready to hit a milestone birthday next month and it has really had me thinking about life and how quickly it passes. If she is still living, my birth mother would be in approximately her late fifties. I often wonder if she thinks about me and how my life has turned out. Many times as adoptees, we tend to focus on birth mothers and their emotions. I think we do this because, in most of our files, it is only our birth mother’s basic information that is given. From what I gather talking with other adoptees, not much information is given concerning birth fathers (typically). Both of Whitney’s birth parents were in the picture when she was adopted. Now, getting a chance to see Whitney’s birth family post-reunion has me wondering if my birth father even knew about me. Personally, May and June bring up so many questions about my past because of the Mother’s and Father’s Day holidays.
You would think these things would make me more satisfied, but deep down, I have more questions than answers.
I think, because I still have the option of doing a birth family search, I have not initiated one yet. I’ll explain why this is the #1 reason for me. Having this option allows me to have control over the current situation, which is something I did not have as an infant when I was relinquished and adopted. Knowing that there are so many potential outcomes, I have the choice of whether or not I want to subject myself to these strong (positive or negative) emotions, which will most definitely come. Honestly, I have a lot of fear over the possibility of being rejected. Yes, life goes on, but sometimes the thought of not knowing about my past at all and holding out hope for a future relationship with my birth family outweighs the hurt of rejection that I could potentially face if I find them and they want nothing to do with me. But then I come back to the fact that the years are starting to fly by. I’m getting older and so is my birth family. Eventually, if I wait too long, my chance at a relationship with my birth parents could be lost forever.
I’ve heard of many positive birth family reunions, but I have also heard of the negative ones. My heart breaks for those adoptees who long for that relationship with their birth family, only to come up empty-handed in their search or find the family wants nothing to do with them. I recently heard of an adoptee who went through the process of finding their birth family and working for years at establishing a relationship with them. Suddenly, years after the reunion, the birth family chose to end that relationship, creating much hurt and brokenness for the adoptee. I understand this story is not the norm, but I can’t help but think, “What if that happened to me, too?” I have no idea what I would do.
I know that I talk a lot about unknowns and possibilities, but it is all that I have at this point, in reference to my birth family. I am so fortunate to have such a great relationship with Whitney’s entire birth family, including her parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandmothers. During our most recent trip to Korea, I remember being at Seongbae’s wedding and standing on stage with 100 other relatives for a picture after the ceremony. I looked around and realized how lucky I am to be part of such an amazing family and group of individuals, whom I hope to someday know on a deeper level. I felt myself loving a family who I couldn’t even understand, but just knowing that the love between us all is much stronger than I could have ever imagined. That moment at the wedding made me so much more curious about my own birth family. I wonder if my birth family could fill up a stage just like Whitney’s did. How many siblings do I have? Does my extended family even know that I exist? Would they accept me with open arms? If I did a search, could Holt find them? Could one of Whitney’s extended family members know one of my family members?
As the last five years have just flown by, the next five years will fly by, too. I get emotional when I think about how lucky I am to have such supportive friends and family, no matter what I decide to do in the future regarding my birth family. Having a spouse who has already walked this road is something that I will not take for granted. There are some days where I don’t even have to say anything, but I just get overwhelmed by these birth family possibilities. Whitney gets it and understands exactly the struggle that I’m going through. I want my questions finally answered, but am terrified of rejection, of not finding them, of the emotional roller coaster that goes along with a birth family search.
No matter how we may want it to, time does not stand still. We have the choice to just go with the changes or live in the past.
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