My Adoption Story: Part 8

We are on the train heading to Pusan. Rob’s mom and I are going alone, which is fine by me since the fewer witnesses for any potential emotional breakdowns the better. We do not talk much on the trip, I think Rob’s mom knew I was nervous so she left me to my thoughts. As Korea’s countryside sped past in the train window, I couldn’t help but wonder what I had missed growing up in this wonderful and foreign country. It is especially ironic to feel like a foreigner, when you were born in that country.

Déjà vu, I am sitting in the Pusan Orphanage office again. I am face to face now with my email nemesis, who oddly enough does not show any surprise at seeing me in person. The other Korean office ladies alternate between working on various tasks and shooting us startled looks every time they hear us speak English. If you are Korean, but speak English well, other Koreans generally tend to think you are showing off if you are speaking English in conversation with other Koreans. Did I mention it is really hot in this office, in Korea, and that there are very few AC units?

Rob’s mother and the orphanage employee begin a lengthy conversation in Korean that seems to end abruptly. I can tell from her change in demeanor that something has occurred, I simply have no clue what it is.

“They are saying that they made a second attempt to contact your mother and that she has not changed her mind. She has further said that they are not to give her information to you and that you are to stop trying to contact her or your sister,” Rob’s mom said to me.

It is funny how you notice things in times of completeness. Whether that is complete love, complete sadness, or completely any other emotion something seems to heighten your senses. I remember a fly hovering around my head as I heard this news. It is funny, one minute it annoyed me so much, the next it vanished and I had completely forgotten of its existence. Kind of scary to think about that actually, considering if I had been driving a car while receiving this news I wonder what would have happened then?

“Tell this guy that I don’t want anything from her!” I almost yell. “Tell this asshole I just want to see them once, if my mom doesn’t want to meet me then tell her I just want to see my sister!”

More conversation in Korean takes place.

“He says he is very sorry, but it is the policy of the orphanage to protect the wishes of the parent. He also says it is very unfortunate because she lives close to here.”

Bleakness, a pain in my chest, and a sudden need for alcohol takes hold of me.

Finding Yourself

The past unknown can be bore, when no knowledge is had of that which was tore.

When the seal of history is cut, A piece of your heart can be seen to jut.

From that wound so small, so infinite. All you knew is surely bent.

Pain deeper than any well, can surely seem like the fires of hell.

But that pain, that gift, although so small, Starts the pieces of the puzzle to fall.

That puzzle, the key, to finding yourself, Is the inner soul’s manna, its being, its health.

That stranger that walks a different life, with whom you have so much strife.

Your identical twin, your brother, your soul. Whose relations with you takes its toll.

It is his place you wish to be. To be able to say, hey this is me.

But his life is not your path to take. The Gods have rolled their dice, it is their choice to make.

What trials and tribulations each shall endure, we should rejoice we don’t have more.

Kill the image you wish to be, Your fate before you never flee.

Until those gates you should climb, Be glad of the days that you may dine, On the fruits of life and wine.

Until you dance with death and die, To spit in the devil’s eye.


My Adoption Story: Part 5

It is my second year in college. Depending on how you look at things or who you talk to, my life was going just fine. Depending on what you looked at and what you examined, I was the same person. Those that knew me knew that something was a bit off, those that were meeting me at college for the first time simply thought I was a cool guy that got moody sometimes. People talk about “bipolar” issues but that word would not apply to me since I had so many different levels of moods it was amazing anyone could be around me. I was the smoothest talker and the life of the party or I was the reclusive guy that really just wanted everyone to get out of his apartment. And if you are curious, yes I had plenty of girlfriends (some might even say a lot), but I cannot remember most of their names and the ones I do remember are just memories. Nothing and no one was a focal point during this period.

It’s 2 A.M. and I am busy typing another email to the orphanage employee in Korea. Surprisingly I am getting great responses from people in Korea, everyone except for my contact at the actual orphanage. I have had no trouble convincing people in the news industry that I am serious about finding my birth mother, but the employee at the orphanage seems to be handling me with the common Korean courtesy reserved for subjects that they wish to ignore. Namely, they keep putting off or ignoring something in hopes that it goes away. I am a persistent human being, especially at 2 A.M., so I wasn’t going anywhere. The time difference in Korea was particularly frustrating at this point because I had to sit and wait for responses. It was encouraging though to have various people in Korea I had never met before offer their support and assistance.

If you have never met many Koreans you may not know this, but most of the stereotypical jokes about our names are true. Like the American name Johnson or Williams, there are staple last names in Korea. My last name was Ahn and that is very common, in fact if you threw a stone in a Korean market you would probably hit a few Ahn’s (and they would be very mad so don’t really do this). The key element in my case file, I just decided to name it a case file because that sounds much more fun, was the home address my mother had left when she returned for my sister. This address was step one and because God decided I deserved a break, step one is where she was at. It turned out she was still living there, but the orphanage employee, who oddly enough was the one that found this out for me, called her before telling me. He then informed me of the following.

“I am sorry, but I told her that you were looking for her and your sister and I asked her if she would like to speak with you. She said “no,” and for you to stop trying to contact her or your sister. When I tried calling her a second time, the line had been disconnected. I am truly sorry.”

And that is how it happens, one hand to pat you on the shoulder, the other hand to slap you in the face.


My Adoption Story: Part 2

I am not sure how many posts this is going to take or how many shots of whiskey either. To be perfectly honest after I wrote “Depression and the Devil,” in my archives I did not plan to write on this topic again. But then I see the articles on the Russian to America adoptions being frozen, then some of the most ignorant comments on CNN website by Americans… I assume. The level of unknowns when dealing with adoption is high. Every child has his or her experiences, every host family has there’s. I do not criticize people with differing experiences, hell flip a couple cards a different way and I am an East African militia, who knows? Bottom line if you have NO experience on a topic, none at all, walk on eggshells. It is a sensitive topic.

Why is this topic so sensitive. I mean I even saw a commenter on the blog say ” ADOPT AMERICAN” like it is a product. Amazing, sad actually. Unless you are using money to get pregnant, the money you use for an adoption is blood money. It is a promise to them that whatever happened before will never happen again. If you break that promise, you have spilled blood money. Because what you have essentially done is broken that child’s heart a second, third, or hundredth time. I have my stance on immigration policy, adoption is not immigration. Adoption is a gift of hope.

It is hot in the Summer of 2000. I am sitting here with two other adoptees and our translator. We are at the desk of one of the employees at the orphange in Pusan, South Korea (Koreans call it Busan) where I was adopted. It is really humid, many Koreans in the country and lower class deal without AC. Orphanages are probably lucky to have salaries. People in orphanages of South Korea are unwanted or cannot be cared for. Most times the action of placing them there is deliberate. I was ashamed to learn that those with mental illness are shunned in most Asian cultures, you can deny it, until you study the high number of mentally ill or even “handicapped” kids in orphanges. Koreans, as Asians go, are a prideful people. Imperfections are hidden, if you think I lie just watch a seasonal Korean drama. Our TV portrays our stereotypes and our realities as well.

The orphanage employee opens the old dusty record book from 1983 with a picture of me “entering the system.” It could have been one of those late night tug at your heart advertisements. My translator reaches over and asks something in Korean while pointing at an arrow from my picture to the girl above.

“He says that is your sister.”

Some scrambling and shuffling of paper, computer keyboard being used, tears… I just remember tears. I end up in the bathroom of the orphange. It is gloomy in here, possibly the set for the next North Korean horror movie, I am handed a tissue by the translator. Damn…


Adoption – Don’t tell me how “Selfless” Birth Mothers Are

I read a ton of adoption articles and posts. I continuously see the words “the birth mother was so selfless in the adoption process.” I can’t swallow that. Granted some women are in a hard place and their action is what is best for them at the time, but don’t feed me the line “she was selfless.” If anything we might as well change that to “selfish” since the decision is about her. To claim the decision is about the child when that child is not yet even born yet is idiotic to me. I can’t accept that.

As an adoptee I understand the feeling of rejection that often comes with the realization that you were given up. We have TV to thank for providing a myriad of “reasons” why this takes place, but ONLY one reason is ever the “true” reason per individual. That is what many people just don’t get when they speak of adoption and adoptees. They don’t understand that hypotheticals and “what ifs” don’t mean shit to us. They just don’t and they provide zero comfort at night.

When I reflect upon my life I often wonder “what would have been” had I never gone to Korea in 2000 and found out about the existence of my birth mother and birth sister. Would the plans and dreams I had already meticulously laid out have come to fruition or would some curveball have come that would have ensured my feet landed in the exact spot I am today. Who can say? I do know that I feel very little value in the knowledge gained and in turn I carry a huge burden because of that day. That period in my life helped solidify my hatred for my birth mother. It may be a cold hate, dormant even, but it is still hatred. It flares up every time I read the words “the birth mother was selfless.” In my case she wasn’t, she was a selfish termagant.

-Opinionated Man

Gifts of a Stranger

Gifts of a stranger, a nameless man who in some societies would be called my father. A man I have never met, and yet I receive a gift from him every day it seems. With the coming of age comes the revealing of his face. I see it in the mirror, even if I have never dreamed it. My hand touches my cheek and I just stop myself from striking… it is me…it is me.

“Hello bastard,” I sometimes say to myself in the morning. I smile. It is the smile only one that comes from adoption can crack. It is a bastard’s smile.

It is a gift from a stranger.

It is a gift from my father.

-Opinionated Man