The world tells me, ‘Why can’t you just count your blessings, and be happy for what you’ve got, instead of being so miserable? It’s been more than 40 years, and it’s too late to do anything about it, so why complain? You’ve grown up, forget it, get a grip on yourself and move on with your life.’
So here is my announcement to the world, of why I can’t simply move on, much as I wish that I could. How can I ever forget my Korean past? It’s a huge part of me and who I am. It’s in my flesh and blood, and in my soul. I had a pair of loving, natural parents before I was adopted. Sadly my mother died suddenly, and my father had a hard time trying to feed four children. He needed help, and if anyone had given him that in 1969, he would still have had all his children, and I would still have had my family. Desperate, my father was forced to give up his youngest, me, for a while. I was temporarily placed in a children’s home, to be returned to him when he had managed to get back on his feet and was able to take care of me. Instead the home gave me away to be adopted as an orphan.
To make a long story short, I ended up in Norway with a pair of adoptive parents who gave me a very abusive childhood, yet kept telling me how lucky I was and how much of a blessing it was for me. I was ‘a very poor child, saved from starvation, suffering and quite likely death in Korea’, and my natural parents were not to be mentioned because my journals clearly stated that I was legally an orphan. But what can a little girl do when Korea and Norway both make it legal to rip her apart from her blood family? There’s not a single day that I manage not to think about what life could have been. It’s part of my issues as an adult adoptee, and it makes me feel sad and lonely.
I have a question: How many non-adoptees (especially those who tell me I should just count my blessings and move on) would like to be adopted themselves in the same way, to be torn away from their family, sent away as orphans (although their natural parents may well still be alive) to a foreign land with strange people, strange customs, strange food and a strange language, and have the history of their life filled with lies? You must learn the Art of Denial, because your side of the story doesn’t count, and you are not allowed to speak of it, ever. You’re also expected to show immense gratitude towards your new society, and especially towards your new set of parents, because whether you like it or not, they are your parents and will demand that you call them Mom and Dad, and you must forget who you used to be, and accept your new name and your new place in life without protest and without question. They will tell you to get a grip on yourself and move on. ‘It’s no big deal. Being adopted is such a blessing in all kinds of ways.’
Is there a bigger lie than the word adoption? It means to raise as one’s own child, but it might as well just be called denial, because that is what it really is. It’s not beautiful, it’s not compassion, and certainly not a blessing. It’s simply a huge tragedy for the adopted child, and for her natural family.
I struggle and cry because I feel that my life is messed up. You see, there is no ‘off’ button. I can’t forget that at the same time as I grew up in an abusive home with my adoptive parents, I had a father in Korea who loved me and was searching for me for the rest of his life.
That is why I can’t forget, move on or get a grip on myself, no matter how hard I try. Because I am in a kind of Limbo, paralyzed, my inner child is still in shock, and I am still grieving. And I’m afraid that I may not ever find the inner peace that I am looking for. It’s too late to meet my father in this world. I wish with all my heart that this was only a nightmare, but it’s the ugly truth and one of the darkest sides of Adoption Land – a land where all lies become truth, and the world smiles at you and says that being adopted is just as perfect as any other normal life. But the truth is that in a perfect life, adoption wouldn’t exist.
Now I’m paying the price of my adoption by living in a quagmire of loneliness and abandonment. I don’t think anyone will be able to understand this feeling unless they are themselves adopted. I know nothing about my family tree or family health history, or my relatives in Korea. I can’t recall the faded faces of my parents anymore, nor their voices, lullabies or whispers, or their tears. All of that is lost forever, and the aching in my heart hurts so terribly much. I can only dream of some day sitting beside my parents’ grave, the closest I will ever get to meeting them again.
I feel that if anybody owes anybody anything, then both Norway and Korea owe me a trip back to what used to be my home, to see the house where I was born, meet my relatives, and visit my parents’ grave, so that at last I can shed all those tears that I have hidden inside of me all my life. I can’t yet afford this myself.
The way I see it, I don’t owe the world anything! It is the world that owes me the courtesy of helping me go and say a last farewell to the most important people in my life, my natural parents. And to try to help me heal, if that is possible.
Why can’t I stop crying? Please, God, help me, hear my prayer, let this little girl finally find her way home.