from my introduction to the GOAL First Trip Home 2012 Application
I am many things to many people: sister, wife, friend, doula, teacher, student…and daughter, to both a mother I know and to a mother I’ve never met. Being an adoptee has shaped every aspect of my life, and I find myself spiraling back to what it means to be an adoptee as I pass through various stages of my life. Many people have asked me over the years if I plan to visit Korea, and I’ve always had some vague answer of “Maybe someday.” I’ve always had reasons, large and small, why it wasn’t quite the right time. I could never articulate exactly why, but I’ve always trusted that I would know, deep in my heart, when the right time came.
Currently, I find myself at a major crossroads in my life. I am almost 30 years old, married, and about to apply to doctorate programs in nursing and nurse-midwifery. I love my life and my work, and have found many deep and meaningful ways to engage in my community. I have a loving husband and many supportive friends. My community of support runs deep, and I feel blessed to know several adoptees, both domestic and international, who have been through the process of birth search and reunion. Their stories, and their support, have given me the strength and courage to embark on my own journey. Now, more than ever, I find myself in a time and space to be able to take that first journey back to Korea and do a birth search.
In 2007 I initiated a file search, which resulted in the discovery of a sealed document that neither I nor my adoptive parents had seen before. At the time, because of the sensitive nature of the information revealed in the document, the social worker from CHSFS assigned to my case advised me against doing a birth search. She said that in cases like mine it is often too traumatic for the birth mothers, and culturally, it would be very difficult. I decided to not initiate a search at that time, in part to give myself some time to process, and in part because I didn’t want to cause any pain or difficulty to my birth mother or her family.
After several years, however, I feel that I can no longer ignore the deep yearning I have to know some basic fundamental truths about my existence, truths that other friends and family members take for granted. While I have little expectation of actually finding my birth family on this first trip (if there’s one thing I’ve learned from other adoptees, it’s to not get your hopes up), I also feel that I have an obligation to at least make the effort to do a search. At the very least, should my birth mother ever return to my agency in search of information, I want her to know that I am thinking of her, and would love the opportunity to meet any of my birth family who is open to doing so.
I am grateful to GOAL for providing this opportunity for adoptees to do a search within a group that is supportive and understanding of the emotional needs of adoptees. Ever since learning about GOAL, I have been hoping that I would be able to find the time to make this trip happen. I want to begin the process of making deep and lasting connections with the land of my birth, and to do so in a community of fellowship and support with other adoptees. Given my research of the options available to adoptees, GOAL’s First Trip Home seems like the best match.