Thursday, March 18, 2010

tip toes

I am feeling anxious about writing letters back to my Omma and Appa. I am feeling anxious overall about the current situation. I want so much to move forward. I want so much for things to progress.

But just like I didn’t develop the relationship I have with my American parents overnight, or even over several years, I can’t expect my relationships with my Korean parents to automatically emerge as though we’ve always known one another. It doesn’t work like that.

We’re not old friends who simply lost touch over the years. We can’t pick up where we left off. I was a newborn infant when my Omma last saw me. My Appa, well, he never got the chance to even look at me.

Now, fast forward almost 35 years. I’m clearly no longer a child. I'm a grown woman.

Additionally, the relationships I have with my Mom and Dad are hard-fought and hard-won, and we’re still growing. We were not always as close as we are now. There was a time when the chasm was so vast that it seemed insurmountable. The tension was so dense and seemingly irreconcilable that I would often despair and subsequently withdraw, which of course, only deepened and magnified the chasm.

We were people lost and estranged from one another due to misunderstandings, ignorance, miscommunication, and a resevoir of tumultuous, misinterpreted emotion. But we continue to work through these obstacles, and although it’s not easy, it’s certainly possible and attainable.

My Omma and Appa and I were people lost and estranged from another in the truest, most practical sense. We have no shared history. We share no common language or culture or experiences other than the loss and grief initiated over thirty years ago by a series of events. We, of course, share our genes. But nature certainly cannot compensate entirely for the absence of nurture.

Yes, there remain many things about my adoption experience that my Mom and Dad do not understand. But similarly, there remains the past 35 years of my entire life that my Omma and Appa do not know and therefore do not understand.

Truly, it is a double-edged sword that cuts going in and coming out. The wounds can be treated, but in many ways they will always be vulnerable.

* * *

I will say that it feels good to read the letters from my Omma and my Appa, to feel their love, their longing—to feel the sincerity of their desire to reach out to me and to know me. It is so hopeful and comforting. Their words, although not completely but in part, do act as a poultice to the deep pain and persistent uncertainty that writhe within.

Yet things still remain so fragile, so delicate. As much as I feel their love and longing in the letters they wrote, I also hear their sorrow and desperation, fear and anxiety.

We still tiptoe and dance around one another, testing the ground on which we gather, whether it will be solid enough to withstand the burdens we carry or whether it will split open under the weight and tear us apart once again.


8 comments:

sherinala said...

wow... i can certainly empathize with your plight. although you are much older than i was when i first tried to write back to my obba...

"We’re not old friends who simply lost touch over the years. We can’t pick up where we left off. I was a newborn infant when my Omma last saw me."
---> I really like this verbiage. This is a concept I had to continuously remind myself of, when I was wondering why things weren't going as quickly as I thought they should with my mother....

i kept thinking, 'SHE'S MY MOTHER. HOW COULD SHE NOT KNOW ME? SHE SHOULD JUST KNOW WHAT I WANT AND NEED! UGH!'

but, alas, she did not. because she did not raise me or have the history my adopted mother did...

i think it is very poignant.

i love reading your blogs, because I *hear* myself saying aloud "OMG! YESSS! OMG - TOTALLY!" hahaha...

i hope you keep your spirits up and keep making yourself feel things... they say the only way to a finish line is to go through the marathon. well said.

take care - hugs!!

Melissa said...

Sheri. Ah. I always breathe a sigh of relief when I read your comments. Even though it's out cyberspace, I am so happy to be able to connect with you and to know you are out there--that we can relate to one another.

Thank you for your encouragement, and reminding me that this is "normal" for what we are going through.

Mia_h_n said...

I always find it really interesting, that I often have the same experience with reading your blog as Sheri said, even though we are on opposite sides of reunion. It's very educational to me about me.

You say, you all still tiptoe around "the burdens you carry". I pressume you mean the more in-depth, confronting issues? Do you not dare to be the first, to start talking/asking about the past?
Is your reason for tiptoe-ing that you truely worry, you'd be able to push them away with questions and...whatever?

I'm not passing judgement, I just can't imagine that after a year of having you back in their lives and your Oppa's family's lives, they could be offended enough to cut you out again.

I know you say the situation's delicate, and I'm not trying to make you feel bad or guilty for not saying more. I'm just curious to know, what you'd like to do, tiptoe-ing aside.
Are you frustrated with the way things are because you're dying to ask a million questions, and if so, what's holding you back?

I know you be an extremely polite and considered person. Do you contemplate if you're be overly so on the expence of some of the answers you might long for?

Mia_h_n said...

*being overly so

Melissa said...

It's not so much "tip-toeing" because I'm fearful of asking certain questions...many of those I have already asked.

It's "tip-toeing" simply because the emotions and the circumstances are still so delicate and raw.

Once an adoptee and biological parents have so-called "reunited" there is no guarantee that the relationships will survive long-term.

The truth of reuion & post-reunion follows in the years that ensure after the initial meeting.

There is an insecurity that remains. Are the biological parents going to change their minds? Will all the complications & secrecy become too much for those involved to bear? Will the language & cultural barriers ultimately sabotage the efforts to establish a solid foundation for an ongoing relationship? These are just some of the questions and looming difficulties and complexities that characterize reuion & post-reunion.

There are SO MANY influencing factors.

There is simply an uncertainty on both side in the beginning stages, and because in this case, communication is so difficult, trying to establish a strong foundation is very challenging.

Even in asking the hard questions and being sincere and honest, there remains a lingering doubt and insecurity that it will all become too much one day...

That someone will end up wanting to back out due to all the emotional, psychological, social demands and complexities of the situation...

I am not getting the sense from my Korean mother or father that this is what they are feeling, and they have communicated very directly that they intend to remain in contact for the rest of our lives.

Yet there remains an element of insecurity, I think, in in part due to the initial loss and relinquishment...compiled with the current long-term stresses of post-reunion...

I really don't have a problem asking questions. That's surprisingly not the issue. I am very honest with them.

It's more the emotion that characterizes the situation--grief, sorrow, hurt, regret, etc.

And I think that's in part why some of the insecurity remains. Because overall I have conducted myself in a very honest manner and have not held back my questions & thoughts, I wonder if at some point it will become too much for either one of them...

I don't tip-toe around the questions, but I feel very aware of the emotions that are evoked by the questions that I ask and I things that I express...

And in that sense, it's more that we await each others' reactions, wondering whether this time will be the last...

Mia_h_n said...

"Yet there remains an element of insecurity, I think, in in part due to the initial loss and relinquishment..." Oh, I think this is SO true!
For me, I know it's a wound that will always be there even after a possible reunion.
Perhaps that's what I'm subconsiously protecting myself against when not really contemplating a longterm post reunion relationship.

tiffany tichota said...

omg x infinity! i feel as if all of your words were plucked right out of my mind and heart. r we all having similar experiences in our own way? it's very cool

Mila said...

@ Tiffany, I am comforted that what i have shared here helps you to know that you are not alone...