Smile Politely

Reconnecting with the past Part Two

(Today, we continue to Part Two of Mica’s account of her first contact with her birth mother. The first part can be read here.)

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.

I will not post the entire contents of her message here. They are personal and must have taken great courage to compose. In short, she expressed feelings of guilt, love, and curiosity towards me and apologized for being unable to raise me herself. To explain her original response to my contact, she wrote [This is from Alice’s translation.]:

” The only person who knows your birth was only me and my sister, and that might also be a reason that I was so puzzled at your news. However after that short moment, as times goes by, I was so badly want to see you because you’re my daughter.”

I also learned from this and subsequent e-mails that she has four sisters and two brothers and that her mother (my maternal grandmother) is still alive. Additionally, I have two half-siblings, a younger sister and a younger brother, who are both in college. This was a particularly poignant discovery for me, as I am an only child in my adoptive family.

Most importantly, my birth mom said that she planned to come with two of her sisters to Seoul on May 26th to meet me. (They live in another city.) Over the next week and a half, she e-mailed me to say how excited she was about our meeting and how much she was looking forward to seeing me. All my angry feelings really disappeared when I read her very kind and apologetic words. It seemed silly that I had ever been angry at her.

I’m sure it sounds cliché to extol the “magic” of the Internet. Nevertheless, I want to acknowledge that without my blog and e-mail, it would have been much more difficult, if not impossible, for me to meet my birth mom. (This continues to be true.) Viewing my photos allowed her a safe and anonymous way to check on me and contemplate the weighty decision of meeting me face-to-face. I feel fortunate that her motherly curiosity won out in the end, and I am so thankful that through Internet communication, I am able to correspond almost instantaneously with her.

Once I arrived in Tokyo for the first part of my trip, I received an e-mail from Mrs. Lee, confirming the date and time of our meeting. Mrs. Lee would act as a translator for the meeting at the agency office. She also told me that my birth mother planned to stay overnight in Seoul and wanted me to stay with her and her sisters. The exact words were “She wants to spend the night with you.”

While I was really excited to meet my birth mom in person, this last bit really overwhelmed me. The idea of spending the night with my birth mom, who was essentially a complete stranger, was pretty intimidating. I was afraid of the language barrier and also worried that she would do motherly things like try to bathe me and braid my hair. I asked for advice from an adoptee friend who had been reunited with his birth family. He warned me that my birth mom might not approve of my boyfriend coming along for the evening, so I should be prepared to go alone. Ultimately, I decided that no matter how awkward I might feel, it was important to jump at this opportunity. I’m not a very big risk taker, but this seemed like an important one…

Well, this is indeed a very long story, so I will save the report of our actual meeting for another time. I hope you enjoy reading it!

(We’ll plan on hounding Mica for the rest of the story in the coming weeks… promise.)

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