Thursday, July 30, 2009


I am finally beginning to emerge from the fathomless nebula that has cloaked me since our return from Korea—my eyes still bewildered; my mind still besieged; my heart ever-confounded.

* * *

I feel as though I disappeared into this vast and secret world, to discover that what I had once thought existed only as fantasy had always been waiting for me—tangible and arresting.

I can only compare the wonder and amazement to that of a little girl who might have stumbled her way into the fantastical—gaping mouth and glimmering eyes. And while there, she gazed upon and grasped within her own hands all that she had only ever seen—and longed to touch—in a dream.

I feel as though I could remain in that world forever.

* * *

But I must return.

Yet I am troubled.

How does one return to daily life when everything has changed? When the world has changed? When you have changed?

Adoption is such a misunderstood experience fraught with misconceptions and misinformation due to often well meaning but ultimately wrongful ignorance and presumption.

Therefore, please understand that I mean no disrespect by making the upcoming comparisons, but they are the closest instances at which I can grasp to even attempt to foster understanding of the gravity and intensity of the process of reunion and post-reunion.

The emotional complexities may be somewhat akin to those who return from war.

Life is never the same.

And although, at times, you may feel relieved that the war is over, the loss and the grief remain. No matter what healing or restoration finds its way to you, the tragedy you have endured becomes a part of who you are and who you will become.

It will forever shape you.

* * *

This is not to say that opportunities will not arise that ultimately lead to a full life of new happiness and new dreams. It has been said before that suffering need not be an end, but rather it can be the beginning of a new and daring hope.

Yet, the truth is that no matter what sense you strive to make of it, no matter what happiness you find later, life can never be what it was before—some for worse, some for better.

In a similar way, after entering the reunion and post-reunion process, life will never return to what it was before. Not only so, but it will also continually be defined by the co-existence of the seemingly conflicting emotional experiences of loss and gain, tragedy and redemption, grief and joy.

Although reunion is for what I longed for years and years, although it has brought great relief and comfort, it is also a constant reminder of the pain and alienation that have also characterized the adoption experience for me.

I look into my birth mother’s face and feel joy and relief, while in the same moment a pang of grief and agony writhes within. I gaze into my birth father’s face and feel wonder and peace while at the same time I am reminded of the deep sorrow and angst that simultaneously tore us apart yet has ultimately brought us all here together again.

As those who return from war, they are expected to grieve and to mourn, but eventually they are expected to engage in daily life again, and for practical reasons, they must.

I know I must begin to return. I know I must begin to merge and assimilate these worlds.

Yet, in the same way that those who return from war begin to realize that what they have endured and experienced will never be fully understood by those who were not with them, I also realize that there is no telling of this story that will ever fully elucidate what has unfolded and what will continue to be revealed.


sherinala said...

Ohhh - this is an excellent description or analogy. I compared the love i felt for my birth mother in addition to my adopted mother to the only thing i could really find similar: the love a mother has for multiple children. she loves them all equally in quantity, but differently.

i understand - and you will slowly start returning to the 'real world.' but don't worry, it doesn't have to happen until you are ready to return! I hope you can allow yourself to bask in the blessing of your reunion, and also process the complexity of it all.

i am so happy that you were able to meet, and hopefully find answers you have so needed to know.

but, don't rush yourself, ok?! we ARE different after the reunion; the world will be different, our perspective will be different, and we ARE forever changed. "for better, or for worse."

Call me if you need to talk, ok? I'm always here!! Sending hugs!!

Mila said...

Thank you, Sheri! I know you understand and I feel your support. Hugs back! :)

Jeff and Madeline said...

Thank you so much for sharing this. Today of all days I see it, feel it and understand. My daughter has not been the same since meeting her family--understandably.
At first she was excited, thrilled, riding a cloud no one could see, but she is no longer in that place. She is in a state of confusion, trying to sort out the "truths", trying to make sense of so much that there is no way to understand at her young age. She has been showing her discontent/confusion through behavior for a couple of weeks, it was only tonight that she found the words (although we have tried and tried to give her the opportunity--she wasn't ready). The relief in hearing her words cannot be described (as a mother), but also the guilt, pain, sadness that I feel for having her meet them has been eating me alive. I know it was best on so many levels and I know she has so many answered questions, but also knowing that the knowing comes with many more questions that are not able to be answered at this time.
She is happy she met them. She is still thrilled at the discoveries, but it is the conflict of the knowing, the coming to a new understanding of her past that is causing her to have to emerge into her new world.
It is so hard to watch the person you love more than life have to come to terms with a new reality and understanding--even knowing there are great things, and not so great. I wish I could take away the confusion. I know I cannot and it is her journey, I am there to support/love/comfort, not to draw conclusions.
Thank you for sharing your story, it helps more than you know. I appreciate your openness, it helps me be a better mom to a child who is experiencing the same thing. I know it is not your duty or goal to help others, but it is so appreciated.

Jeff and Madeline said...

forgot to mention--I am so glad to have been a part of her journey. I know she would not have changed it for the world and honestly, neither would I. By knowing for most of her life, I am hoping relationships can be forged from childhood--allowing her to always know her beginnings, her family, her past, and allow for openness that will give her the permission to love all of us (I hope that came out right). I just want her to always know it is not a competition, we want her happiness and her feeling of being whole.

Mia_h_n said...

I'm not even sure the people who were there with you can fully understand. I believe it's such a personal and individual experience. Of course there are similarities but ultimately this was your reunion and your experience and it's your life changing.

And how could you not be changed by this? I "only" went to meet the country and I'm not the same - which kinda scares me in terms of the depth of emotion if I were to meet people too.

But do take you time. There is no formula for when you ought to be done with dealing with it all. And it hasn't been that long still...

And I am here too if you need to talk or vent or just babble and get some of the confusing, tangled thoughts out of your head. You don't have to feel pressured into making sense.

Unknown said...

Hello, I just saw your video for the first time yesterday. What a facinating life story. Amazing. So glad you saw your parents and had time to spend with them. I know it has changed you within. It has to be a good thing. God bless.