Thursday, January 8, 2009
Have you ever heard the story about the poor urban girl whose family tried to force her to use her beauty to become the second wife of a rich man in the city, but she loved another?
Neither had I.
Until one seemingly mundane afternoon...
My wedding band lost one of its stones over the holidays. Fortunately, we recovered the stone and were able to get it repaired.
I got a phone call that the ring was ready.
So, the next day--my day off--early in the afternoon, I walked out of the jewelry store after picking up the renovated ring, hopped in the car, and headed to the store to pick up some odds and ins.
As I made my way to the store, I heard a familiar sound, although muffled. It sounded like the radio. The radio wasn't on.
Duh. It was my cell phone humming, stuffed in the pocket of my purse. I dug it out.
Area code 918?
I don't know anyone with this area code.
Every time I see an unfamiliar phone number flashing on my cell phone face, two primary trains of thought sound through my mind. I don't know who this is, so I'm not answering it--besides, they'll leave a message if it's important.
The other train that sounds its bells?
I wonder if it's someone who knows something about my birth mother?
Although I didn't know the number, there was something vaguely familiar about 918. I was thinking, hoping that perhaps 918 was the area code where Dillon International, my American adoption agency, has its headquarters.
I could feel my heart begin to beat a little faster.
I answered, "Hello? This is Melissa."
"Hello? Is this Melissa?"
"Yes, this is Melissa." I had never heard this voice before, but I somehow knew this voice.
"This is Duk with Dillon."
"Duk!!! Oh! Yes, it's so nice to finally hear your voice. All this time only communicating through email, it's so nice to now know what your voice sounds like!"
It was the representative from Dillon International with whom I had been corresponding for the past six plus years. This is the first time I had ever received an actual phone call from her.
I felt the sense that something paramount was about to transpire.
I pulled over and turned off my car.
And suddenly, the news I had been waiting for all of my life began to stream into my ears.
"We have found your birth mother and your birth father...Yes, your birth mother wants to meet you, and your birth father, also..."
I realized that my life was never going to be the same.
I cannot even begin to explain all the emotion that continues to course through my every cell since that phone call almost three days ago.
How does anyone even begin to process such an event?
After six long years, and really a lifetime of longing and desperation, after searching and aching for some one who seemed ever-elusive and almost fictional--how do I even start to comprehend this new knowledge, this unexpected yet long hoped for discovery? With each second that passes, my life is changing.
Over the past seven years, there has been failed attempt after failed attempt to identify or locate both my birth mother and birth father. The name the agency had on file for my birth mother is not an unusual name in Korea, and the agency also was not certain as to whether the name they had on file was her real name.
At one point, Mrs. K had tried to contact ten different women via telegram who matched my birth mother's name and approximate age. But none of the ten women came forward claiming to be my birth mother.
There were times that I felt like giving up. There were long stretches during which I could do no more--I just could not bear the emotional drain and exhaustion any longer. And yet, I could never completely give up. Something, some one compelled me always to return to the search, to continue seeking out the truth.
Duk tells me that Mrs. K, the representative who works for the agency in Korea (ESWS, or simply, Eastern), finally decided as a last attempt to enlist the help of a Korean police officer who has helped in the past with birth family searches.
She gave the officer the information she had regarding my birth mother.
It goes to show that so much in life is all about timing.
The police officer accessed his system and found several women who seemed to match the information given to him by Mrs. K.
He in turn passed on the contact information for these women to Mrs. K.
Mrs. K began to contact these women one by one. And finally, as though, this was simply the time it was meant to come together, she found herself speaking with the woman who would be discovered to be my birth mother.
Why this attempt, after seven years of previously failed attempts, finally resulted in success is beyond my comprehension.
But what I do comprehend is how incredibly fortunate I am.
There are those who wait all of their lives to have just a glimmer of such a hope. Now, with each minute that passes, I am being given the opportunity to experience more than just a glimmer--my eyes are being filled with the light of hope. I am being given the grace to experience the fruition and consummation of a lifelong hope.
Truly I am humbled by such a grace.
Who am I that I should be granted such fulfillment?
As of yet, the story seems to go something like this...
My birth father and birth mother met while they were still teenagers.
It seems that my birth mother was quite beautiful in the eyes of the Korean men in her town. So much so that her mother and older sisters thought that she could use her beauty to lure the affections of a rich Korean man to take her as his second wife.
But my birth mother did not agree with this plan for her life.
So she ran away with my birth father, and they lived together without being married.
She became pregnant.
And suddenly, my birth father found himself in circumstances beyond his control, unable to care for my mother or the child on the way.
While my birth father was incapacitated, she gave birth to me and subsequently relinquished me for adoption without his knowledge.
She met another man whom she eventually decided to marry. Only several months after giving birth to me, she bore this man a daughter. Five years later, she bore him a second daughter.
Once my birth father recovered from his circumstances, he searched for my birth mother only to discover what had become of her and the first child she had bore.
He, too, eventually married someone else.
I have been told that they wanted to find me but failed to do so. That they have thought about me through the years.
Both my birth mother and Mrs. K think I have a striking resemblance to my birth father. He told Mrs. K that he is a member of the Harley Davidson Lovers' Club and that he enjoys sports and the outdoors. I have always loved motorcycles. I have always enjoyed all kinds of sports from snow skiing to rock climbing. I played soccer and tennis in high school. I love moutain biking and hiking. I love nature and the outdoors.
I cannot help but wonder what else I may have in common with each of my birth parents--and also in what ways we differ from one another. I wonder what other characteristics of my physical self and psychological self will correlate with my birth parents.
And I wonder where this journey is now going to take all of us...for it has only just begun...