One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

It’s amazing to me how quickly things can change in regards to being an adoptee.

Not even a month ago, I shared on the Janchi Show how I was not particularly enthusiastic about wanting to pursue a robust relationship with my birth mother, and at the time, I meant it. 

I had just sent her a second letter asking a little bit more about my extended family, and a couple of weeks ago, my birth mother reached back out to me. She answered my questions and told me about where she lived and worked. The letter was brief, but she mentioned that she had been afraid I didn’t want to speak to her since so much time had elapsed between my initial letter to her and this most recent follow-up. 

Out of character for me, I immediately responded. This time I also casually stated that I had Facebook because I wondered if her daughters (my half sisters), who are in their 20s, had social media. 

I think I assumed that they would likely not have any interest in contacting me– my nature is to be overly cynical and glass-half empty when it comes to a lot of things in life that could potentially have emotionally traumatic results. I didn’t know if, while they knew about me, if they felt any resentment towards me because our mother endured so much pain and depression as a result of having relinquished me. I knew that our mother’s depression definitely affected their own childhoods and relationships with her. I also didn’t expect them to feel any kind of curiosity or familial pull to get to know me personally. 

This morning I woke up to two messages on Facebook from two of my sisters. One was from the oldest, Narae, whose name Clara coincidentally has as her middle name. The other was from the middle of my three sisters, Nahye. 

I spent the better part of this morning talking to Narae via messenger. We were each forced to use Papago to translate, as we each only speak our respective languages. 

It surprised me how effortlessly conversation flowed. We talked about her upcoming wedding, her dog, my sisters, and Clara. We even started to talk about “Pachinko.” I found myself not wanting the conversation to end, and felt that the feeling was mutual as it was past midnight in Korea. Finally, she had to say goodbye and go to sleep but promised to message me again tomorrow. 

She also told me that my birth mother wants to send me messages on Thursday because she is off work that day. 

I never expected to be so excited about having siblings. Since I was raised as an only child, I never knew what it was like to share a sibling bond. I suppose that I still don’t, seeing as how we’ve only exchanged this one set of messages, but there is this particular feeling I cannot put my finger on. I just feel so connected to her–almost moreseo than I do to my birth mother.

Perhaps it is because she is closer in age and the realization that she will likely be living as long as I am, along with my other two sisters. Maybe it is because I believe she has more potential to be able to travel to the United States someday. I don’t know. But something significant is there, and it intrigues me. 

As excited as I am to have made this new connection, for the first time I am finding myself feeling truly resentful about my adoption. Not resentment towards my parents (biological or adoptive), but just resentment towards the entire situation.

I want to be able to talk to my sisters and my birth mother easily. I hate that I need to open up an app and then just pray that my translation comes across correctly. I want to not need to shell out likely hundreds of dollars for 1-1 Korean lessons in order to be able to learn the language (perhaps even without mastery). 

I am truly angry that in order to go to Korea, it is prohibitively expensive, and I am even annoyed at the fact that there are barriers such as logistics surrounding traveling with Clara, and my husband being able to get the time off.

It almost seems like the universe is taunting me by dangling little pieces of healing in front of my face but yanking them away one minute later. Of course I am thankful that I’ve found my birth family and so far it has been a positive experience, but now I am beginning to wonder if the pain of knowing them but not being able to truly connect over language or in person is even greater than the pain of not knowing them at all. 

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