The loss of my adoptive mother, the only one I call “mother” in this blog, was expected. She had had a stroke, been rehabilitated, but not offered the by-pass surgery she needed to survive the heart disease her family claimed as its own. But while we knew my mother’s days were numbered, the shock of her death came as a surprise, and I still suffer from it.
Since the beginning of my adoption, I had always been told the story my parents were told by the adoption agency. My parents never hid any letters or papers they had received; they were up front and honest. I knew that I had been found on May 24, 1968, that an investigation had uncovered nothing, and that I had been given a name and a birthdate.
This narrative is branded into my brain.
I have never owned a birth certificate. My proof of being is my US naturalization papers at age five and my Korean adoption papers at age 13 months. On them, my fake birthday and my fake Korean name are repeated numerous times.
So in the same vein as the moment I received the call about my mother’s death, I experienced a similar shock as I read through my US adoption file which arrived on January 29.
To add to my fake birthday and my fake Korean name were these two little words:
Reading them in black and white, shot pains throughout my body. It was as if every cell was devastated.
These words, “No Record,” repeated, over and over, on what is the equivalent of a birth certificate in Korea, the Ho Juk Deung Bon or Family Registration. It continued to say that my “family” of one (just me) was established on August 8, 1968, and that my name had been given to me on July 19. Interestingly enough, I wondered, “So, what did they call me between May 24 and July 19? Just #5596?
Some really poignant words in my progress reports:
“When she came at first, she had a little hardship adjusting herself, but now she is a different girl. … She is loved a lot by her foster family …and [has] a good relationship between her and her foster mother. … Is attached to her foster mother, [sic] and not shy of strangers.”
I am reminded of that frightened little one in this first photograph.
The “hardship”?!?! The pain I felt reading all these words. My body, my being, my soul were aching for my biological family. The sliver of hope for another family vaporized and vanished.
I am still looking, but in the meantime, a movie trailer has haunted me. (Trust me, I really hate putting this trailer here. If you have seen it, don’t grant it another view, please.)
"The Drop Box" - Documentary Trailer from Arbella Studios on Vimeo.
My daughter watched it with me. Her response? “The mom doesn’t identify herself because people would judge her.” This, from a ten-year-old. The simplest idea was seen by my daughter despite all the feel-good fluff in the movie.
In the trailer, a man says, “These children are helpless … voiceless. Who will speak for them?”
And I am screaming, “Me!! Let me!!”
Please arm yourself with the facts. I have researched them, and you can find them at the Lost Daughters website in the post, “I was the baby in the box.” If you would like to help adult adoptees in their search, consider donating to KoRoot on their site.