Saturday, January 28, 2017

Reunion in Reverse

For some time now I have felt like I have accomplished something major that I am greatful that I did. Yet fact remains I was only 15 years when I decided to search for my birth family - up until that point all I knew was my birth parents names and personal details and the number of children they already had. I successfully got in touch with them and we begun to exchange letters and emails for approximately 3 years or so. For reasons I will not disclose we did not stay in touch for the next five years. When I finally decided to contact them again it felt like we had reached the point of no return.

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I was sincere in my wish to actually met them this was the time to mention it and so I did. I met my entire birth family the very next summer and it was without a doubt the best experience of my life. After the first trip and reunion I decided to return and stay for an extended visit with my family. Only after this second trip did I realize I should try my very best to try to learn my birth family's native tongue. In hindsight it is only now, that I fully comprehend and realize how different our two cultures are. A part of me even want to say I went about this in a reversed order, birth family search first followed by first trip and reunion. Only later intense courses in the Korean language and attempting to accept our cultural differences by learning as much as I can of my birth culture.

Had I not successfully located and reunited with my birth family it is very likely that I might never have wanted to travel to Korea, study Korean or learn more about the culture. For me my awakening was my birth family that I always knew about despite never having met them.

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After nine months safely inside my mother's womb, I never got a chance to fall asleep inside her arms. I never got to know her scent to hear her heartbeat, or witness her mimic. For nine months I became familiar and used to my mother's voice, movements and sounds. She never got a chance to get a first look on her newborn child. Only later would I met my mother as a young woman but then the damage was already done and not even meeting her could undo the damage that was done to me. Of course the first meeting did end all the worrying, my mother could finally rest, knowing I was alive, even sharing the same space and air that very first time.

My mother has been a good wife and woman to my father I am sure. She gave my father seven daughters, seven female bonds of which she was able to enjoy six of those. Finally achieving that needed son and male heir her honor was restored and she had no reason to feel shame or guilt for having given her husband a son.

Had I been able to stay with my birth family a lot of things would not be the same, my life would most certainly look very different. It is a difference for a new mother to bond with a newborn in comparison to bonding with a young woman. It is very likely I would have had a chance to experience her motherly care and become a daughter to her just like my older sisters.

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My oldest sister  became a married woman 20 years ago and she has given my birth parents and all us siblings our first niece and nephew. She does not appear to live with her husband any longer I suspect they are divorced. My mother still worries for my oldest sister and her children a lot as she should.

My second sister supported her family (my family) for many years before she finally married and settled down overseas. Just as my mother worried for my second sister and the separation from her and the grandchildren from her; my second oldest sister.

My third sister supported my still unmarried sisters and our parents for many years. She recently married just a few years ago. My mother worried a lot for my third sister's health and her children, eventually after marriage my third sister moved to be closer to her husband's family.

My fourth sister supported my remaining younger siblings, she even dropped out of school to help to raise and care for them. She was the third sister to marry not long after my second sister. As any good woman and wife she soon had two children; a daughter and a son. Perhaps my mother does not have to worry as much for my fourth sister. (That being said, I do of course believe our mother worries for her but in a ordinary way; the way a grandmother should worry for her child and grandchildren.)

As a any good mother would do, our mother decided she would have to move to the same city , that my two unmarried sisters lived in. My fifth and sixth sister are very similar to Mary and Kitty Bennet, they share the same worry that Mrs Bennet had for her children and the necessity of marriage.

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Eventually my fifth and sixth daughter , being the youngest my mother wanted to live closer to them, and she and father relocated a few years ago. I wonder if they married out of love or if they married someone they met through match-making, (which is a rather common thing to do in Korea, since they don't date strangers without being introduced by someone they already know. )

Just before my fifth sister married and became a mother, my still unmarried sister married just the other year she is currently expecting her first child and our older sister is already a mother of two.





With so many daughters it is certainly no understatement to say that my mother had enough on her plate. I somehow begin to think about the five Bennet sisters in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. (Yes I know it took place in the 19th century) still Mrs Bennet''s worries and struggles to marry of all of her daughters bares a close resemblance to that of my mother.

With so many children and not having the ability to bond with me, I cannot blame my mother for giving me the cold shoulder. I suppose it is expected but I still grief for the loss and the mother that I never got a chance to know. My (adoptive) mum has done her best of course, but she can never replace the woman that carried me inside her womb and whose blood I share. The separation from my first mother cannot be healed by a strange woman's wish to mother a child, her love carries a reminder of loss and of the mother that I always will be a stranger to. Even though we share the same blood and I am a spitting image of her.

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Being rejected twice by the two most influential women in my life has affected me more than I like to admit. First it was my maternal grandmother that easily planned to reject me based on my gender .Then it was my mother that indirectly rejected me when I was very young only to disowe me as a young adult.

As an Asian female adult adoptee I was regularly subjected to exotification and sexism, perhaps due to the fact that I grew up in Western Europe and in a predominately Caucasian society with Caucasian adoptive parents. In Europe this is not something that society recognizes as racism instead we should be grateful and proud and take the caricatures and the racial inappropriation as a compliment when it really is not. This has made me determined that I will not allow my future spouse to disregard my feelings and my person which is why I stopped dating after High School. I am a feminist and believe in equality and maybe if that is what I strive for. I might have to only date other Asians; meaning Japanese or Chinese men. To end the exotification and the racism and perhaps it is true that minor ethnic minorities only understand each other. Maybe only an ethnic Korean would be able to understand me.

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