Smile Politely

Reconnecting with the past Part One

I’ve put off writing an article about this for some time because I did not know how to address such a lengthy and personal subject. Nevertheless, I want to add on to the story that I began last year about my search for my biological parents. In a way, it feels like I owe it to any readers and to my birth mom to tell the rest of the story… as it has played out so far.

Back in March, I wrote an article describing my reaction to my birth mother’s decision not to meet me. At that time, I found out from the social worker assigned to my search case that my birth mother had decided that meeting me was too emotionally painful and too much of a threat to her security. Her decision dealt me quite an emotional blow. For the first time in my life, I felt angry with this woman who I had never met but to whom I had always thanked for making the “right” decision for me.

The news came at possibly the worst time of the year: the middle of my Master’s Exam week. Under the stress of the biggest exam of my life (thus far), my emotions were stretched to a breaking point. I most definitely hyperventilated and cried in the middle of my exam while discussing the evolution of Latin into modern French. It wasn’t pretty.

Nevertheless, a few weeks later, I decided that I would not give up on my birth mother. After all, the social worker had told me that my birth mom had cried when she listened to the letter that I had written her. In my mind, this was a sign that she wanted to see me but was just too afraid.

I had heard of a few adoptees basically forcing contact with their birth mothers, who had understandably not reacted very well. Certainly, I did not want to barge into my Korean mother’s established life and have our first introduction be surrounded by fear and resentment.

Fortunately, I keep a personal blog where I post daily photos of my life for my [adoptive] parents on the East Coast to keep up with my work, play, running, and baking. After posting about my birth mother’s decision not to see me, I received an e-mail from a Korean-American reader who kindly tried to explain the social stigma for unwed Korean mothers. She suggested that I send the address of my blog to my birth mom. Bolstered by this encouragement, I sent the address to Mrs. Lee, the case worker, who forwarded it to my birth mom. At this point, I still had no idea what her name was, where she lived, and if she would be willing to even look at the blog.

As the semester drew to a close, I started planning my trip to Tokyo and Seoul in earnest. One day, I received an e-mail from Mrs. Lee at the adoption agency about my birth mom. She told me that she had very good news. Though she didn’t speak English, my birth mom had been regularly visiting my blog and was in the process of writing me an e-mail. Mrs. Lee told me that this was a very good sign and that she would pray that my birth mom would change her mind about meeting me. I assumed that the e-mail would come via translation from Mrs. Lee since all contact at this point had to be non-identifying.

On May 8th, I was sitting my office, making a grocery list for my weekly trip to Meijer. Suddenly, an e-mail entirely in Korean appeared in my inbox. In a state of shock, I forwarded the message to my friend Alice, a Korean international student, for a translation with the message, “Do you think you could translate this? I think it’s from my birth mom!!!” Four hours later, I “read” the first communication from my birth mom.

(Tomorrow, we’ll publish the rest of Mica’s story — stay tuned)

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