Friday, August 7, 2009


A lot is on my mind and heart right now. I feel heavy.

I watched this program that featured two stories—one from the perspective of a Korean adoptee who was adopted in the 1960’s and one from the perspective of Korean birth parents who had relinquished their daughter in the 1980’s.

Of course, watching the program inevitably made me think of my own story, and in some ways, forced me to think about certain aspects of my journey that I tend to minimize or completely ignore.

* * *

As some of you may know, the search for my biological parents lasted seven years.

Now, when one takes into consideration that the current statistic states that only 2.7% of Korean adoptees who search for their biological families actually find them, I’m one of the “lucky” ones.

At least, I found whom I was seeking, right?

But what some of you may not know is why the search took seven years.

It’s something that I don’t like to think about. I’d rather just accept it as the way things happened.

But, in some ways, not thinking about it is a luxury in which I can indulge, because I eventually got the results for which I was looking.

Had things gone differently, perhaps I would be asking more questions.

In some ways, however, I did ask those questions all along the way, and that may be in part why I was able to finally break through to the other side.

* * *

When I first initiated the search, all I knew about the circumstances that surrounded my adoption was that I had been “found abandoned.”

According to that single sheet of paper, the recorded information stated that my biological mother had given birth to me in a clinic in Seoul. It then stated that the doctor had found me that same day and later referred me to the David Livingstone Adoption Program.

End of story.

All my life this is what I knew. This is all I thought I could ever know.

* * *

But after initiating the search through my adoption agencies, I began to discover that all I had ever known was not the whole truth.

I began to learn that I had to persist and push and ask questions. I had to dig and press and pry. I had to learn not take “no” or “sorry, there is nothing more we can do” for an answer.

I had to keep sniffing and clawing up every tree I could find.

Every once in a while, I’d stir up the perching flock enough that a bird or two would finally squawk. Or a squirrel here or there would venture down and crack an acorn or two open for me.

Needless to say, it was a daunting process.

* * *

My initial inquiry led to about a paragraph of information that was sent to me in an email. (

When I received this information, I was nothing less than shocked.

What I didn’t understand was that if the doctor had found me abandoned and had been the one to refer me to the agency, how then was the agency able to confer such detailed information upon me.

Information such as number of siblings and ages. Information such as her level of education and employment. Information about how my she and my biological father had met, how long they had dated, and that they had even lived together without being married.

Did my birth mother leave a note with me as she secretly disappeared from the clinic?

When I finally did inquire as to how the agency had come upon this information? It was explained to me that back during the time of my adoption, the language the agency used often referred to abandonment when it was actually relinquishment that had taken place.

Wait? What?

All of sudden, everything changed.

So, wait, my birth mother hadn’t snuck away in the night and left me there in the clinic? Then, what did happen?

I’m still trying to figure that out.

* * *

But this is how the search went. Over seven years, I kept digging and would eventually stumble upon little bits of information that would change everything.

For example, I was told initially that the agency had names and ages for my biological mother’s siblings. When I inquired about the siblings’ names and whether they could release those names to me, that statement was retracted, and I was told that the social worker had made a mistake and that they did not have their names.

I still don’t know what the truth is.

* * *

As I continued to press them for more information by asking detailed questions, little pieces of information would surface. The agency knew in what town my birth parents had lived in. The agency knew the duration of time that my birth parents had lived together--4 months. Again, how did they know all of this, and why did I have to press so hard to get this information?

I also later discovered that the agency had recorded old addresses for my biological mother.

This troubles me even still when I think about it…All these years, they had old addresses, and they never bothered to share this information with me, or even let me know that they had such information in their possession.

The laws. All the laws.

I don’t like to think about these details. I feel as though I’m being ungrateful or negative to bring attention to these obstacles I encountered.

But as I said earlier, I’m one of the 2.7%.

My path was not nearly as difficult as those of others, as that of the Korean adoptee featured in the program I recently watched.

* * *

All that we are asking to know is the truth. The truth that will fill in the missing pieces of who we are.

But so often the truth is taken from us and buried where we cannot reach it.

It should not be this way for us or for anyone.

The truth will continue to elude those who seek it until those who feel compelled to hide it realize that the truth does need their protection.

Rather than lock away the truth, release it--that those whose lives are so affected by it may decide for themselves what they will do.


Mia_h_n said...

You are such an inspiration, I can't even tell you.
I get my strenght to continue on my own journey from you and your friendship and your amazing willingness to share your experience with me.

You make a profound difference.

Mila said...

Mia! I hope you had a great vacation :) Your words are too kind and you humble me...I am so grateful for you and YOUR friendship. We're in this together :) and I only hope that by sharing myself with you that we both won't feel alone as we make our journeys...hugs!

almost human said...

Thank you for sharing your 7 year search.

Thank you for being tenacious and inspiring so many!

If you don't mind, I'd like to post the link to my follow up on the documentary, which outlines more of the issues surrounding the roadblocks to our identities.

This is the first of 5 parts...

With your permission, I'd also like to post your "elusion" post on my new facebook group, Korean Adoptees for Fair Records Access.

Yours in solidarity,

girl 4708

Mila said...

girl 4708...hi! I am familiar with your story...I first encountered it through the program on SBS featured on TRACK'S channel on YouTube. My heart simultaneously broke and raged for you...

Certainly, if you would like to use this post, feel free. Also, I'm on Facebook, so I'll search the group you've started on FB.

I am here for you in any way that I can are in my heart and thoughts...

Linda said...

Hi! My story is also similar like yours. Unfortunately I feel I don´t come any further in my searching for my birthparents. I have contacted GOAL and social Service in Korea. social service contacted my Babyhome i Incheon, but they gave the same answer as I already knew, that I was found abandoned. I can´t take that for an answer. Do you have any tips for me how to go further??

I am at the facebook as Linda Liljeblad. I have my daughters eye as profilepicture as I don´t want to be found by everyone.
Take care// Sincerely Linda//Sun Hee Cha from Korea/ Sweden