Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Video of my reunion: What I feel now--4 years post-reunion
[If you have trouble viewing the above video, you can click here to watch the video, Reuniting, by Jeanne Modderman]
It's the month of June.
It's my reuniversary--that is, four years ago this month, I "reunited" with my Korean family.
I have watched this video more times than I can count. And yet, I can only watch it every so often.
What has not changed since the time the video was taken is how emotional I feel every time I watch it.
What has not changed is still feeling like I don't belong anywhere, caught between two worlds, feeling neither American nor Korean. What has not changed are the difficulties of the geographic, cultural, and language barriers.
But what a metamorphosis I have undergone since the time this footage was taken. In some ways, everything has changed since that June trip to Korea. I will never be the same. I returned from Korea stunned and transformed.
I've also had a child since that time, and am expecting our second child, ironically, this month of June, which--yet another irony--happens to also be the month of my birthday. As an adult adoptee, experiencing childbirth and parenthood has opened one Pandora's box after another, especially experiencing it all post-reunion.
I've also since started going by the first name, "Mila," which is a combination of both my American and Korean names. Since the reunion, neither my American nor Korean name feels like who I am. I feel so disconnected from both. Even still, there are moments when I feel nameless simply because I still feel so lost at times.
Specifically regarding some of the things expressed in the video, what has changed is that the "honeymoon phase" is over.
What has changed is that I can no longer say that I never would have wanted to grow up in Korea. Although I am aware of the realities that I might have faced had I grown up in Korea, I am not convinced that things could not have turned out decent enough--with no more and no less sorrow than the life that I live as a transracial, intercountry adoptee.
Also, at one point in the video, I use the word "joy" to describe the emotion that encompassed my experience of reunion.
I would no longer use that word.
Bittersweet. Painful. Unresolved. Grief.
These are the words I would use now.
My birth mother has never come to visit America.
We do not regularly correspond, unless writing a letter (via random translators) once or twice a year is considered regular correspondence.
And the other part of this video is what it does not show. I also reunited with my Appa (my Korean birth father). But for reasons of privacy and secrecy he did not want any photos or video shared publicly--because I am still a secret to his wife and adult children.
And although I do not regret reuniting, there have certainly been times that I have been so grieved and pained by the bitter complexities of reunion that I wanted to cut off all contact once and for all.
Reunion is not easy.
It's not a quick fix. It's not a fairy tale.
It is what I wanted. And it is still what I want.
But it will never be the way that I want it. Because you can't be two people at once in two places at once, living two lives at once.
Yet, being an adoptee somehow forces one to adapt to living life divided as though we should feel lucky to be caught between two worlds, two selves, two lives...
To read more posts written by Mila at Lost Daughters, click here.
Posted by Mila
I am a Korean adoptee who has been in reunion since 2009. I am also a wife and a mother of two, a sister, a friend, a relentless questioner of the status quo. I love my adoptive family and I hate being adopted. I love the life I have but wish I could have grown up with my family in Korea. My life as an adoptee is an ever-evolving journey full of complexity and seeming contradiction.