Wow! The last 24 hours have been extremely emotional for me. I feel such a relief, having given my notice, and setting a date and planning to spread my wings and fly. I feel nervous, excited, happy, scared, but most of all it feels incredible to be able to conquer FEAR and also do something that gets you closer to achieving your dreams.
I had blogged a couple weeks ago about finally receiving copies of my adoption records.
Growing up I always remember knowing that I was adopted. I can remember as far back as 4 years old having other children and even adults ask me why I didn’t like my parents. I was always very matter-of-fact and still am and would simply reply “Because I was adopted.” I don’t ever remember my parents sitting me down and explaining it to me, but clearly they did, but that memory just didn’t stand out. I don’t think truly understood it and to be quite honest, it didn’t really matter, because I had nothing to compare it to. I always remember my mother getting extremely upset at other adults when they would ask me “Do you want to/Are you going to try to find your birth mom?” My mom loved the show Unsolved Mysteries. I would always remember sitting in the living room watching it with my parents, and then my mom would do their little code – “clearing her throat” and if my Dad was totally complacent to it, she would say “DAVID!” and sigh and then say in a low voice “Change it!” whenever a story would come on of a person who was in search of their biological parents and was reunited. I get that it really bothered my Mother. I get it now. You wait for a decade to have a child of your own & finally get to be a mother, just to have this fear looming over that someone else may steal the title of “MOM”. But throughout all of this growing up, I always knew deep down that it wasn’t really encouraged nor supported for me to ever search for my birth mother. So to keep peace, to not hurt my mom’s feelings I just engrained it in my head that it didn’t matter. As an adult tons of people have asked me the same question & I’ve always been quick to say & justify “NO! I don’t harbor any resentment towards my birth parents. But I really don’t care to find them. For Christ sake how would I even communicate with my birth mother who speaks Korean. And I’d hate to surprise her and find out that her current family knows nothing about her putting me up for adoption.”
I just went on about my life. Trying to get thru each day as painless as possible.
As a kid, I always remember feeling angry, anxious and depressed. I grew up in a household where we didn’t “believe” in that kind of thing and heaven knows one doesn’t discuss that kind of issue because then that would mean they were playing the victim!
Not until I had Emily and Rebel did it really hit me that I knew nothing about my family history. (Never really dawned on me with Haylie, because her father didn’t know about his family history either). But I thought it was only a curiosity sparked by the situation and needing to know the health conditions that may loom over my unborn children.
When I asked my father for my adoption papers in mid-March I really don’t even know why I asked for them. I had never really acknowledged to myself that it was of any importance.
Not until they arrived did it ALL hit me. I had Haylie read the letter they wrote me.
But I had no desire to open up the file.
I told Ryan when I got home about the envelope and he started to open it.
That’s when I told him to STOP. And NOT open it. Which he respected. And he put the envelope back in my car.
But it hit me – I was not ready to go down that road. I still can’t put my finger on why. But I just wasn’t ready. I thought I might find some alone time where I could read them by myself.
The envelope just sat there for weeks. I looked at it every day that I drove my car.
Last night I had to call the UCIS for the umpteenth time, to check once again on the status of my reissued Naturalization Certificate that I need to have in my hands so I can send it in to get my passport so that I can go on the cruise to Grand Cayman in March 2014. I started asking my parents back in 2009 for the copy. They refused because I wasn’t speaking to them and they didn’t like the way I spoke to them or the methods I went about trying to communicate with them (another power struggle to I guess prove a point). Because they refused to give me any more than a photocopy we had to cancel a trip to Playa Del Carmen that Ryan surprised me with for our 2nd anniversary in 2011 in which we lost money all because I could not get a passport. The cost to request a new Naturalization Certificate was over $400 so I gave up. Threw in the towel and cursed them. Fast forward to January when the opportunity came up to register for the exclusive Beachbody Success Club Cruise for March 2014 I jumped on it and said I would take off work, pay the $400 whatever to get my Naturalization Certificate so that I did not miss out on this amazing opportunity. Well lucky me, one of my sweet fellow coaches Janette, helped me get the fee waived and so late January I sent in all the paperwork, assuming that I would receive what I requested in a timely manner. Well here we are – the beginning of September. Nothing. I’ve called multiple times. Never given a definite answer. Gotta love the good ol’ government. I spoke to one of the Customer Service Managers last night and was given another “answer”. She said I needed to contact the county court that I was naturalized in, fill out some Form DOJN25 and then at some point in time, it could help me get a temporary passport. Seems like I am jumping thru hoop after hoop. When I did speak to my father in March for the first time in over 4 years he stated that apparently he asked me when I was 18 if I wanted the original Naturalization Certificate and I said “NO!” I have absolutely no recollection of that conversation, but if it did indeed take place I am sure my answer was in fact “NO!” Remember, I was not a dreamer, terrified to travel out of the state, why in my mind, pregnant with my 1st child, dating a total idiot, would I ever think about needing that document or even needing a passport. But then the story changed on the call. He said they don’t have it. It’s gone. They thought I took it. I have no proof to prove that he’s lying, but coming from the people who save everything and document everything and have every single shred of paper filed away, it’s hard to believe this one document, really just grew legs and ran off. My theory is they know it’s the one thing I need. One thing that prevents me from going places, doing things I want to do. And it’s one way to still hold some sort of power/control over my life.
So last night I decided to open up the file. See if there was any information about the court I was naturalized in or something that could help me get my passport in time in case the Naturalization Certificate does not come in time to send off to get my passport by the trip.
As I opened the file. Something inside of me was triggered. I was hopeful that there was something in there that had been left out, something that would feel this emptiness that I’ve had inside me even as a young child. Something that had some significance. Something with some meaning, some substance. Something to fill this void, that I’ve carried around, but blocked out with distractions, booze, drugs, self-destructive behavior my whole life.
As I flipped thru this file, about ¾” thick, all I found was letters to courts and different agencies and receipts for payments made associated with the adoption from the beginning of the adoption process, dating back to 1978. (with typewriters and such and snail mail I can only imagine how grueling this was for them or any adoptive parents back in the 70-80’s). There was VERY little documentation about ME or my beginnings (like 2 pages worth).
The only thing that I’ve ever been able to remember or tell anyone about roots is:
· * I was born in Seoul, South Korea on January 11, 1981 (although some documents say January 12, 2013
· * My name given at birth was Min-H-Kim
· * My mother was 23, a waitress and named Min-Jung-Kim
· * The father wouldn’t claim me
· * I lived in a foster home and had a 14 year old foster brother
· * I was sick when I was born and was severely jaundiced with Hepatitis when I came to the United States
· * I was only 15 lbs when I was adopted at 9 ½ months old and couldn’t even sit up, but was walking at 1 year & 1 day
What I found in the papers is that:
· * I was born at 9:30 but not sure if it’s a.m. or p.m.
· * I was born in Cheongjoo City, South Korea
· * My birth name was spelled Min Hee KIM (means Quick-Girl)
· * My mothers name was Min Ja KIM – She had a high school education and was healthy – She gave me up because the father didn’t admit he was the father.
· * I was placed in foster care the day after I was born and taken care of by a 38 year old woman (Boon Yong HONG) & her husband who had a 13 year old son in Seoul.
· * I had a seizure and was hospitalized from January 15-20, 1981
· * The Social worker described me as a cute & pretty baby with a big mouth.
I managed to not have one tear drop as I flipped through it, reading what each document was.
But when I closed it I felt more of an emptiness than before.
I don’t really know what I expected.
But it opened a door, that I had never explored before.
People can tell me right and left that I am loved now by many. That I know without a doubt.
But that doesn’t change that fact that something is missing.
Don’t take for granted the information you have readily available to you, where people like me only have a gap in many areas.
In the file though, was photocopies of these pictures of me when I was around 1 month. I’ve seen it before. This was just a photo-copied set of 3 pictures. I remember asking my mom repeatedly as a child if it was my foster mother because I so badly wanted to have some sort of roots. She always answered “NO”. But based on my age and the time frame of when I was in foster care, I think it would be fairly safe to say that it was my foster mother. Looking at that picture, gave me some hope. That even though my beginnings, my past is lost forever, I have my future. My children. If you look at the picture of me at 1 month old, I look just like Rebel and Emily did at that age.
People take for granted what it’s like to compare looks and have someone look, talk, walk or have mannerisms like you. But I never had that. I didn’t have biological siblings, parents or cousins to compare myself to. But I have my kids. And that’s a start.
Do you think it’s a blessing or a curse to not know anything about your beginnings or family medical history?