As you may have read, I will be flying in August to Korea, my first trip back since my adoption at 13 months. Obviously, this topic has graced our dinner table talk, and now it looms heavily in the air.
I am both excited and anxious. But I try to hide this from my children. Apparently, I suck at hiding these feelings from them. They get me. They are biologically connected to me. They are me.
I will miss their first day of school this year as I explore this biological side of myself. In some ways, I feel selfish in pursuing this, but in others, I feel a sense of urgency for me and my children. This search isn’t just about me or them.
My husband and I watched Philomena together this week. That film gave me the realization that adoption isn’t just about the adoptee; the original family is affected too. Philomena Lee has said she thought of her son every day, and his birthdays were incredibly hard. As a mother, I know how important those days are. I still remember the day I lost my second child, just two days after my 35th birthday. I think on it and will never forget it.
Knowing all this, I cannot imagine any mother forgetting the birth of her child. She might quietly and privately mourn, and no one may notice. She may not share this secret that torments her. And yet, somewhere, there is a child that wonders if she wonders.
My daughter wonders but stops herself. Today, with tears streaming down her cheeks, she asked me when I would stop focussing on adoption. I told her the truth … that adoption is the very fabric of my being. It is the loose thread that I have repeatedly clipped when it began to show. I am tired of clipping it and throwing it away only to have it pop back out. (Medical history or family tree, anyone?) I am acknowledging it and exploring it.
I asked my daughter what she felt. Her answer? She is afraid of losing me. She fears that I will return to Korea and decide I don’t want to return to her, to her brother or to my husband. “Mom, please don’t leave us,” she pleaded.
“I would never leave you. I love you, your brother, your father, and your Papito,” I replied. “You all are my everything.”
I sense her feelings of loss. I know them. I experienced them long ago, and then again when my adoptive mother died. The sorrow stays, but it is eased with the grasp of my children’s hands.