I wasn't sure I'd ever write about this, but since I haven't been able to find much online about other Korean adoptees currently searching, I decided to share. It's been an emotional year starting on this journey. I've always been curious about my birth family, I've always been open to the idea of looking, saying from a very young age that, "I'll look for them one day." Aside from a few brief Google searches, I never really did. I always came up with excuses like, "I don't have the money to pay for an official search..." & actually that's all I would say & leave it at that. Until this year when for some reason, I'm not exactly sure why, probably a combination of things or maybe I was finally just ready, I wanted to actually do this. I made a video on my YouTube channel in April announcing I have begun the search. I'd recently started reading blog post after blog post about Korean adoption & it was both fascinating & a little sad. Some things I related to as if someone knew my most inward, deepest thoughts, other things I had no feeling towards. I sent an email to the adoption agency I came through in Korea - ESWS - two days after uploading the video. They responded fairly quickly with paperwork I needed to fill out, I sent it back & then waited. A little over a month later this was the response I got:
Dear Ms.Cho, Min Seon,
We hope this email finds you well.
We got you the applications for searching for birth parents and asked to KAS (Korea Adoption Services), which is government affiliated organization to find current address of birth parents.
According to a reply from KAS, they couldn't find the information of birth parents.
The information that we have is probably wrong.
In the case, it is hard to search for birth parents.
We feel sorry to send sad news.
Social worker, Post Adoption Service Center
I woke up to this email & while still laying in bed, I cried. & I cried that entire morning while getting ready for work. I kept telling myself to calm down & hold it together partly because I had to leave soon but mainly because I was surprised by my reaction. I was sad for a few weeks after that. I emailed back asking what this means & what else I can do. This was their response:
Dear Ms. Hannah Cho,
We hope this email finds you well.
It is difficult to search for birth parents in this situation but they will pray for you somewhere.
& there you go. This is where I'm at today. I decided to give it a rest for a little bit. The overwhelming sadness I experienced was not expected which is what made it especially overwhelming. I didn't know what would happen when deciding to search but I was definitely hopeful since I had names & a couple pages of documentation. I guess I never anticipated hitting such a dead end so early on. You read & hear so many "happy ending" stories, that that seems to be the norm. I suppose because all the stories left in limbo like mine aren't what people really want to hear. What's frustrating is now I'm left with even more questions & a lot of disappointment that wasn't there before I started this. The question mark that had already existed my whole life is now even bigger.
Last month after being contacted on my Facebook page by another adoptee who happened to see my information on Crowdmap, my drive to continue searching was reignited. He happens to have the same exact birthday as me - same month, day & year - & was adopted through the same agency. He shared some of his story & how after trying to go through ESWS he finally just went to Korea himself, searched for, & found his biological family. Also, have you seen the Twinsters documentary yet? It's currently playing in select cities. I just watched it last week & bawled like a baby.
These two things have motivated me to keep looking. My plan now is to go to Korea (hopefully next year) & continue the search in person. All I have is what I've been told is "probably wrong" information but I'm going to look anyways. I'll keep you updated! Wish me luck!
P.S. I'd love to hear from any fellow adoptees. What's your story? Have you searched? Have you found anything? What has life been like for you?
If you're located in Arizona, this is a Facebook group for Korean Adult Adoptees in AZ.