Being adopted is a way of life. I grew up thinking that we got new siblings via airports (we picked my Thai brother up from the airport when he was 6 and I was 4) and truly believing that I was part Italian and Russian while my parents were part Korean and Thai. The thought of looking like your parents was foreign and it just did not matter. The common question, “do you know your real parents?” had the most obvious answer “um… yeah, you met my parents, too! Mommy and Daddy are great”.
To me, family has little to do with blood. Sure, genes are interesting and we get several personality and physical traits from our biological parents and those propensities flourish with our environment, but all that I am conscious of is what my real, or adoptive, parents taught me. I clip coupons as frequently as my father and I freak out about being on time like my mother. I have real parents and never cared to look for my biological parents for the majority of my life. I felt that it would be awkward. Being blood related is a bit insignificant.
However, I became more curious as I reached my 20s. I wondered what it was like to look into the face of someone else and being able to see me. I was curious about my medical history since I usually left that part blank at the doctor’s office (well, when I was a kid and the doctor asked me if anything ran in my family, I replied that cancer does because it runs in my mother’s family. I really believed that I had her genes). All of the curiosity built up over the years and I began to nonchalantly search for my birth parents in 2010 right after my trip to Korea. I couldn’t help but wonder if every person my shoulders swiped by in Korea was related to me.
Two years later after sending my family a letter, I finally received a reply from my birth family.
I woke up at Daryl’s early in the morning getting ready to for work. While drinking my coffee, I checked my email to find one from my family with a photo attached. I don’t know how to describe how I felt, I can’t remember, really. Disbelief? It is a complicated chaos of miscommunication over two years through the adoption agency from false stories to missing emails, but the long story short is that my parents have always been looking for me and thinking about me over the past 24 years.
My omma and appa (mom and dad in Korean) are still together and my three older sisters (onni) live in the big city, Seoul. I see myself in omma and I resemble my onnis. Omma loves frequenting the mountains, appa’s face gets red after a drink just like me, and onnis have a thirst for travel, just like me!
Omma’s letter was heartbreaking and difficult to read. I cry every time I read it. They gave me up because they were too poor to raise me. She immediately regretted the decision and felt guilty for having put me through this.
I assured her and I assure you readers that I am a grateful and satisfied person who loves her life. I have no regrets at all. I can’t turn back time. I cannot imagine what my life would be like if I never met the incredible people already in my life. I may feel left out and sad that I won’t be able to communicate with my family without difficulty. I have been studying Korean, but it is not proficient enough.
My sisters and I have been communicating via email frequently. They send me family photos with every letter. They are all so adorable and happy. My sisters tell me that they love me very much and have missed me my whole life. We are so curious about each other, but our communication is hampered by the language barrier. Thank you, Google Translate! Too bad it won’t be there when we actually meet on June 3.
This time next week, I will be in Seoul. This time, however, I won’t be a lost little girl with a backpack. I’ll have a destination, a purpose, and a family to see.