09 February 2008

To visit or not to visit

It’s been 39 years since I left Korea. And I truly consider myself first and foremost an American and a Puerto Rican. In all those years, I had never wanted to find my birth family.

When I was younger and people asked me if I wanted to find my real mother, I would always say, “Why? She’s at home in Newport, Tennessee.” I’d known no other.

In the spring of 1995, my then husband-to-be wanted to take me back to Korea for our honeymoon. I said, “Are you kidding me? There are tons of places in America that I haven’t seen or experienced. I’d rather explore my own country, thank you.”

But since the births of my children, I have had underlying urges to know more about my birth country. I do love Korean food [especiallly kimchi and Korean citron tea]. And I have since made a Korean-American friend.

My mother passed away shortly after my first child was born. She always encouraged me to learn more about Korea, but I never really showed much interest. My father had been stationed in Korea during the Korean War. Despite my rolling eyes, my dad loved to use Korean words and phrases with me, and he introduced me to kimchi, a favorite food of his.

My seven-year-old son was drawn to Tae Kwon Do, a Korean martial art. He’s learned to count in Korean. His best friend is going to Korea this summer, and he’s quite keen on the idea. So, now that I have children who are curious about that side of their lineage, I would love to go to Korea with them, so that we all could learn more about Korea together!


Cinnamon said...

I just heard of your blog through Holt's magazine that a friend signed me up for. I really enjoy reading your perspective as an adoptee. I have a daughter from China and soon to have a son from Vietnam. I'm gratful that you share your experiences because I believe it will help other adoptive parents and adoptees. I think going to Korea is a great idea. I have a friend (born in Korea too) who went a few years ago to find her birthmother. She did not but the trip was something she knew she needed and did not regret. May Go bless you and your family!

Cinnamon said...

I ment to put may God bless you and your family not "Go".

Anonymous said...

Hi Mothermade,

First of all, I too am adopted from Korea. I was adopted at the age of 6. I got your blogspot from Holt magazine. I am the same age as you. I am happily married with two kids of my own as well. I hesitate to give you any more information since I did not have a happy adopted family life, even though I am very successful today. I don't regret being adopted but my sibling and I paid a price for it. I have a very colorful story to tell but not ready to reveal. I'm not one of these people who are not grateful but when you grow up with abuse, it's no fun. On the brighter side, maybe my experience of being adopted and living in an orphanage (from 11 mos-6yrs) has given me the wisdom and compassion of others. I am college educated and in the medical field and so is my husband. I feel fortunate today for the good life I have now....

I think it's great that you share your story and stay positive out there. I wish you the best of luck and thanks for sharing your story....


mothermade said...

Dearest Anonymous,

I appreciate your candidness. You have made an extraordinary journey. I'm very sorry to hear that yours included times of abuse. No child should know that. But it seems that you have become stronger for it.

When the time is right, please consider writing your adoption experience down. Writing this blog has been a very fulfilling experience for me. And I hope that my children will someday read it and gain a broader knowledge of who I am. Take comfort in your children and the lovely life you have now.

GlobalNomad said...

I heard of your blog through Holt and read your site with interest. We are currently working on a special project -- an online community for tweens touched by adoption or foster in some way. We are seeking guest moderators for a variety of discussion topics (typically one month long discussion). I would be interested in telling you more and determining if you would be interested in participating. You can reach me at heatherly@moonrattles.com.

Gun-bae!!! said...

Hi, I just read your story in Holt's magazine as well. I too was adopted by an American family from Seoul through Holt 38 years ago. I am married with a son who is now 6.

What initially caught my eye was your orphanage picture. I've seen other Holt pictures around that time but something looked so familiar. So I looked at my orphanage pictures and it looks as if we were both pictured in the same type of chair or even in the same chair (okay that may not be a huge coincidence - since those types of chairs may have been de rigueur in those days).

I really identified with the article since I haven't had any desire to go back to Korea or find my natural birth parents until a couple of years ago - I mean, my adopted parents ARE my parents but I, too, started wanting to know more about my heritage after my son's birth.

To that end I am actually going back to Korea for the first time since being adopted this coming Tuesday (well via Japan and Hong Kong - but I'm spending most of the time in Seoul). Alas, I am going alone due to the family coming off a trip to Australia and I don't want to subject my son to another long flight (even though he was fantastic) - however I expect I will be going back with the family if all goes well this trip. If you'd like I would be willing to share my journey back 'home' with you if you think it would be interesting or good reading material as you are trying to go to sleep.


PS - I know this post is very long so I am apologizing in advance.

mothermade said...


How interesting! You sat in the same chair! Please write more of your experiences growing up.

I'd also love it if you would write your observations from your trip. Then, I can experience Korea through your eyes.

Have a great trip!