Knee-deep in my past

I recently came across this e-mail I’d sent to someone about my upcoming trip to Korea in 2000, my first.

It shows that even back then, at a time I considered myself to have
been in great denial and very apolitical about adoption issues, I still
felt it was important that I search for what was missing in my life,
and that it was important to do so with like-minded people.

Here is an excerpt of this email:

Last night . . . my family had dinner with a woman from Taegu and her
family. Her husband is caucasian . . . her kids are about the same age
as mine. I happened to find out in October that she lives only 1 1/2
blocks from me. For the past three years we’ve lived 1 1/2 blocks
apart, and she is from the same city I am from.

C-H looked over all my papers and showed me maps of Korea and Taegu.
She explained a lot of things to me about the time and place when I was
adopted. She herself is the 7th daughter of 8 kids. Her mom almost left
her to die since she was so disappointed she wasn’t born a son. Her
father [forced] her mom take care of her and thankfully, her mother
snapped out of it.

So it was interesting to talk with her about all these things. She
seems to think my birth mother will for sure recognize me if she sees
me on [tv] or in the newspaper because of the circumstances surrounding
my abandonment.

I was left at a very specific, well-known building late at night
during a time when there was a city-wide curfew, so C-H believes my
birth mother lived less than an hour away from downtown Taegu. At the
time there were limited busses and the rails, but hardly any cars. As
she is telling me this, I am feeling overwhelmed.

Six months ago, I had no idea I would be at this point searching for
my birth family. I never thought I would. I basically gave this
information to the universe and all these things are falling into my
lap . . . whatever happens, whatever I find, it will be a part of me
forever. I am allowing myself to be vulnerable because it is the only
way I can grow.

This trip is ostensibly about a search for family, but it is way
more than that. It is a search to come full circle as a person . . . I
have always felt a part of me was missing, that part of stepping on my
birth ground, of breathing the air of my people, of walking in the
footsteps of my kind.

Yet if I come home without any knowledge or information on my birth
family, I will have . . . walked side by side with others taking the
same journey. It is not the results of the answers to all my questions
that is important to me, it is the courage to take the journey itself.

As I revisit that first trip to Korea with the Searching Seoul
show and now this letter that I wrote, it’s making me step back and
think more about how different I am now than I was back then.

And yet, some things never really change. That sense of wanting to take the journey with others who are like me has not changed. It is why I write and share my thoughts and feelings on this blog.

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

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