Friday, April 2, 2010

Did meeting my biological parents diminish my desire to conceive biological children?

This is a pretty vulnerable topic, and one that I'm not sure I really want to openly discuss. Yet, here I am openly discussing it.

A while back I recall my husband asking me if finding my biological parents appeased or diminished my desire in any way, small or large, to want to conceive a child born of my own flesh and blood.

[For my husband's sake, I want to clarify that he did not ask this question out of clueless insensitivity. Rather, he was asking this question due to the several discussions and conversations we had over the years about my desire to conceive as a direct result of being adopted and subsequently not knowing what it is to have a biological connection to someone. Now that I had met my biological parents and extended family, both he and I were asking whether my desire for a biological connection had been in part fulfilled or satiated as a result of having contact with biological family.]

At the time, I didn't really have a solid answer for the question.

But now, over a year after getting the Big News (that my biological parents had been found) and almost a year since first meeting my Korean parents face to face, I have a better grasp on my answer to that question.

The short answer is NO.

No, finding and meeting my biological parents has not appeased or diminished my desire to have a biological child.

This is not to say that it has not been fulfilling and enlightening to meet my biological parents and experience firsthand the similarities we share--similarities that seemingly can only be attributed to the potency of genes and DNA, since I certainly did not grow up under their parentage nor in their environment or culture.

When my Appa happened to mention out of the blue that he is a very light sleeper and is easily awakened, and more specifically stated that it must be completely dark and unequivocally quiet for him to fall asleep, my eyes widened and my heart jumped. Ask my husband. I am the same way, exactly. I often have to use earplugs and eye covers in order to fall asleep.

When I found out about my Appa's obsession with motorcycles and his love for writing poetry, my jaw dropped. Again, ask my husband--my love of riding motorcycles and writing poetry were two of the first things he learned about me when we started dating.

When my Appa shared stories with me of his hot temper and tendency toward rage and fighting, again, my eyes popped. I've punched trees (and unfortunately have the scars to prove it) and holes in walls. I used to own a punching bag that I would wail on in the basement of my parents' house when I was in college. I belonged to a kickboxing gym when I lived in Atlanta, and I have been known to throw and hit things when my temper goes unchecked. And again, ask my husband--he knows a little something about my fits of rage and my tendency toward violence.

My pinky finger is indubitably inherited from my Omma's side of the family. When my Omma, my Imo [Aunt] and I hold up our hands together, there is no doubt that we all share the same crooked pinky. I listen to my Omma laugh and know now why I laugh the way I do.

I observe the way my Omma shuts down when the emotions of grief and sorrow overwhelm her, and I know now why I do the same. Her tendency to hide herself and attempt to maintain a veneer of happiness and perfection, explain to me why I am who I am. Again, just ask my husband, who has spent countless hours bearing with me, drawing me out, and helping me to know that emotions are not the enemy.

It's enlightening in both a thrilling and disturbing way to learn of the eery similarities I share with my Appa and my Omma.

And in this way, it has been indescribably fulfilling and validating to finally make contact with those from whom I came. It has been eye-opening to finally understand what it is to look at someone and see myself, both in physical appearance and in disposition.

* * *

However, what reuniting with my biological parents cannot do is replace all the years that have been lost.

What reuniting with my biological parents cannot do is show me what it is like to grow up with people around you who are just like you.

In hoping to conceive a child from my own flesh and blood, I am in some ways, I suppose looking for my own redemption, my own way to give what I never had, to compensate for what was separated and in some ways can never be made whole again.

And in some strange way, it is also the only way I feel that I will be able to stay connected to my American parents. Despite the fact that we do not share the same genes, they are still my parents, and the thought of losing them terrifies me.

Having children of my own flesh and blood feels to me the only way that I can carry on their memory, because although I am not the biological result of my American parents, I am the product of their love, their teachings, their nurturing. I am as much a product of them as I am of my Korean parents. There are ways that I do things that I learned only from my Mom, that are not the result of nature but rather the result of my Mom's energy and love.

I cut chicken a certain way because of her. I iron clothes in the way that she taught me. I know how to clean a house and make a bed because my Mom took the time to teach me. I host people in our home the way that I observed my Mom hosting people time and time again.

I notice qualities--such as an unadulterated integrity, a strong sense of order, and an impatient intolerance when encountering inefficiency and stupidity--in my husband that remind me of my Dad. My husband makes me laugh in many of the same ways as does my Dad. Certainly, growing up with my Dad, no doubt instilled an appreciation in me for such characteristics.

I am as much a product of my Mom and Dad as I am of my Omma and Appa.

Having a biological child feels like a way that I could somehow mediate the deep loss that will ensue one day when my parents are no longer here with me. If I can have children then I will be able to pass on to them all that my American parents taught and gave to me through their nurturing and all that my Korean parents taught and gave me through their nature.

So, you see, biological children for me are not only a means to reproduce my own genes and neither are they only a way to maintain a family line, they represent for me the only way I can keep myself from having to endure all over again, in all its finality, the same loss of over thirty years ago that still grieves and pains me even today.

* * *

Should it become evident, however, that biological children will elude us, although I will be all the more grateful to have met my biological family, the devastation will not be easily assuaged.


Trenee Indigo said...

WOW Melissa! I LOVE how deeply you search your soul, its very evident through your blogs, especially the few I have had the chance to read. In what ways does your soul searching reveal more to you about God's heart and character? I would love to listen to you for hours on that! Especially when you are digging deep and getting to know yourself so well!
<3 you!

Mia_h_n said...

Thank you for sharing, Melissa.

"..ask my husband, who has spent countless hours bearing with me, drawing me out, and helping me to know that emotions are not the enemy." He's such a gem, that Michael of yours :)

And not that I ever thought he asked out of insensitivity, but it was a helpful little [..].

Katherine S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katherine S. said...

Hi Melissa,
I am in the midst of doing my last birth family search and am asking myself if this will change how I feel about having kids. It is indeed so complicated, and although I'd like to say that it will give me more confidence and I'll feel I have more to offer to my children, I am a little afraid it will diminish my desire to have them. Anyway, Thanks for writing. It's given me something to think about. And knowing I'm not the only one with this on my mind, makes this a little less difficult. :)

Mila said...

Mia, I completely agree with you--that my husband is a gem :) [You're quite the gem yourself, you know]

Solim, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I actually anticipated that finding my biological parents would diminish my "need" to bear children, but to my surprise it has in many ways only increased my desire for children.

As you stated, it is very complicated, however, and each individual has different reactions and different needs...

Lisa said...

I have tears rolling down my cheeks right now! That was a beautiful post! Wow!!! My daughter is only 6 years old, we adopted her from China, by reading your blog I feel like I'm learning so much. Thank you for being so honest.

Mila said...

Lisa, thank you for stopping by the blog and for taking to heart what I have written. I hope that it helps you to understand your daughter more deeply...