Failed Reunions

Herb and Homer

When we don’t have a Netflix, we rotate through some of our dvd collection – one episode of The Simpsons (only the first 10 seasons as my sons claim they lost their way after that, though they remained commercially viable for Fox for a long time after) or one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation or one from “the hat” – a box with slips of paper we draw as to what we have to watch next.

Last night it was Oh Brother, Where Art Thou from Season Two. Grandpa Simpson almost dies from a heart attack and thou he promised Homer’s mom never to reveal to Homer about “that carnival episode” which resulted in a pregnancy and baby given away, he goes ahead and lets an adult Homer know.

Homer goes on a search for his brother and discovers that he is the head of a car manufacturing company and fabulously wealthy. He is also almost a mirror image of Homer – with exceptions. This is something that adoptees encounter when they finally meet genetic relations that look a lot like them. It is a very warm feeling.

But even reunions that start out happily, sometimes crash and burn. I have read about many. Same with this episode. Homer’s weird design sense tanks Herb’s car company and causes him to lose everything. At the end, Herb expresses the hope that he never sees Homer again. As any fan of the series knows, he does eventually return . . .

More about this episode in Wikipedia at this LINK>”Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

Just When You Really Need Them

It is all too common but still hard to understand why it can be this way – today’s story (not my own) from a 29 year old adoptee in reunion.

I was one of the fortunate ones who found my biological family this year in April. We’ve known each other for eight months and everything’s been going great with us. Unfortunately, my mother (adoptive mother who will always be referred to as my mom) is not handling it well. Unfortunately, she continues to use the fact that I want to build a relationship with my biological family against me. She continues to use my biological mother against me when she’s mad at me. She says things like “why don’t you go spend time with your real mom then” “and “you probably wish I was dead.” My adoptive father passed away four years ago and I know she is still struggling. But I’m not sure how to make sure she understands that I’m not trying to replace her. I just want to build a relationship with my biological family that I have a right to. Sometimes, I feel even more comfortable around my biological mother than I do my mother and it’s very confusing for me. I’m not sure how to process all this or how to not take what my mother says to heart, when she’s mad at me. Somebody please help with understanding how I can process all this and help my mom the best way I can, Thank you.

A first mother (one who gave up her child to adoption) answers – your mom’s feelings on this are NOT the most important, YOURS are.

Your mom needs to have therapy for her loss of her husband, she needs to have therapy for the insecurities she has that she is projecting onto you. Right now, your mom is being harmful and toxic towards you. This is emotional abuse. None of this is your fault. You have every right to know your first family, without someone making you feel like you’re a traitor.

It’s not your job to make her feel like you’re not replacing her, same with your first mother. Your mother adopted you and, at some level, she knew this day had to come. If she had been trauma informed and fostered a relationship with you regarding the reality that you have two mom’s throughout your whole life, this wouldn’t be an issue. Your mom has to deal with her own insecurities, same as us first mothers have to.

Absolutely none of this should fall on you, she needs to take care of her own mental health, so that you can freely process and heal from the trauma thrust upon you, instead of making you feel responsible for her own decisions. I am so so sorry that your mom is acting in this way, unfortunately it is extremely common, though it shouldn’t be. All of your feelings are valid. Both your first family and your adoptive family have to deal with their own insecurities and trauma and not drag you into it. Again, none of this is your fault! You need support and love in figuring out your life and who you want in it.

From another adoptee – What she is doing is extremely wrong, in any event. But she thought that you were completely hers and now she is jealous (again) after she proved she was the “better mother.” And of course she cannot understand why your biological family has any pull or interest for you. Of course, you’d be more comfortable with your genetic family. You need to process this by setting firm boundaries with her and telling her that it isn’t a contest or competition. If she says those things to you – she is actually pushing you away, so it benefits you both if she realizes that and simply enjoys what time she has with you. You need to decide how to persuade her to stop being childish and realize that you want to expand your family and knowledge of your own genetic roots/heritage. No matter how much she wants to pretend otherwise, hers are not yours but were grafted onto you by legal force.

From a kinship guardian – The only thing you can do is tell her that you’re not trying and will not replace her. And suggest therapy gently to her. All the rest is completely in her hands and you can’t jeopardize your reunion because of her insecurities. Losing a husband is a traumatic event. And I can only imagine that she is afraid of losing you as well. It must be a hard place to be. But even if that’s the case, you cannot be responsible for that. She needs to work on herself instead of making you responsible for her emotional well-being. If we agree to take on the care of other adult’s wellbeing, as our own responsibility, it will start a chain of mess that can be never ending. Big hugs to you. Just keep in mind that by respecting your own wishes, you are doing the right thing for you. You don’t owe either of your mothers their own happiness.

Greg Louganis Adoptee

Greg Louganis and his biological father, Fouvale Lutu, in 2017

I learned about this adoptee from a favorite adoptee blogger, Tony Corsentino, in a recent blog LINK>Beautiful Man. I personally LOVE reunion stories.

I’ll admit I really didn’t know anything about Louganis’ Olympic career. In 2017, People magazine wrote about his reunion with his paternal family – LINK>How He Found His Birth Father by Patrick Gomez. Louganis told People – “I needed to know I wasn’t a throw-away child.” Like many adoptees (my mom included) being adopted filled him with questions about his birth parents. Being told his biological parents had been young when he was born and had no choice in giving him up for adoption, he says “helped ease the question of whether I was loved.”

Louganis’s birth parents met in Hawaii, but his biological mother moved to San Diego while pregnant and Louganis entered the foster care system at birth. At 9 months, he was adopted by Southern California-based Frances and Peter Louganis, who were unable to have biological children. The couple had also adopted a daughter two years before and were always open with their kids about their family history. 

Among his biggest fans was Fouvale Lutu, who for years had quietly followed his son’s life from afar. When an endorsement event for Speedo brought Louganis to Honolulu in 1984, Lutu decided it was time to meet his first-born son. “One of the hosts came up to me and said, ‘Your father’s here.’ And I said, ‘My father’s in San Diego,’ ” recalls Louganis. Then he said, ‘No. Your biological father.’ “

“It was interesting because as the years progressed,” Louganis says, “I saw a lot of similar traits in him that I saw in myself.” He adds, “when I did the DNA testing and found out how we were connected, it validated everything that I knew in my heart.” Through the DNA test, he also discovered the identity of his birth mother. 

Back to Tony Corsentino, his adoptive parents extolled Louganis as a role model for him. This caused him to realize he had resented Greg Louganis as a child. In maturity, he realized that his parents’ tokenizing of Louganis as what adoptees can achieve was mixed in with his resentment. Then, he realized that he would have needed to be able to theorize his adoption in terms that separated his own self and his questions and needs as an adoptee, from his adoptive parents, their motives and their needs as adopters. The idea of adoptee-in-reunion erasing everything that does not support the dominant conception of adoption as child welfare through family creation. The very idea of finding and reclaiming one’s roots.

A bit more about erasure from Tony – the term is a cultural project requiring many interconnecting parts: laws, institutions, ideas. Denial of citizenship to intercountry adoptees is one manifestation of it. Also, adopting children out of their communities; punitive, draconian terminations of parental rights through our systems of family policing; sealing of birth records. More broadly still: ideas of adoption as child rescue, and the presumption of adoptee gratitude, function to enmesh everyone in the project of erasure. Against such a polymorphous force, resistance takes correspondingly many forms. Greg Louganis’s willingness to talk about his reunion and his reassertion of his ancestral identity through inscribing and adorning his body with native tattoos are potent acts of anti-erasure, no matter how personal their meaning for him.

I love reunion stories because I had to make a determined effort to reclaim my original roots for my own self.

Only Way Passed Is Through

For adoptees and mothers of loss in reunion, the Thanksgiving holiday and getting everyone together can cause some anxious moments. One must simply say yes to the opportunity that was not a possibility for so long. We never know how such experiences are going to turn out but an inspirational message I listen to each week, said that saying Yes is the seed that creates the experience.

One adoptee writes – I invited my (birth, first) mom to Thanksgiving with my mother-and-siblings-in-law. My nephew is coming too, my sister already had prior plans. I just started reading The Primal Wound and I’m worried I’m gonna be just an emotional wreck. But my birth mom has been doing a lot of work around her trauma with it all. She placed 2 kids for adoption but another one overdosed last year.

Another adoptee writes – I’m going to my natural uncle’s house next week for Thanksgiving, and my natural mother and brother will be there too. It’s always emotional and I think it always will be. Honestly, I don’t even know why I go because it’s awkward for me. But the awkwardness is familiar at this point. I want my daughter to know her family, even if I have a hard time thinking of them as family.

Another adoptee had this advice –  If your body is saying no or to hold off, then there’s a reason for that. Forcing it may cause you to experience more further trauma than you need right now. Once a trauma wound is created, there’s no going back and undoing it. So again, go with what your body is telling you. If your body is saying it may not be the best timing right now, that doesn’t mean you can’t pursue it further in the future. It’s your life and your choice. The only one you answer to is you, not them. Do what is best for you, and however it plays out will be what it is. But don’t let anyone bully or manipulate you into feeling obligated. You aren’t. The only person you owe an explanation to is yourself, even if you feel otherwise. At the end of the day you need to fight for your own healing and safe boundaries. If this gathering doesn’t fit in those spaces this year, then honor yourself by not going. If it feels right and like you are prepared, then go and remember to honor yourself. None of these decisions are easy. It’s all a tangled mess. Whether it’s them or not going, I hope you ultimately choose yourself first, because you are worth it.

From a first mother in reunion – been with our son, his parents and other family many times, including holidays and intense gatherings. Best advice: your feelings are the most important of anyone else in the room. You may have a tendency to want to protect or care take others. Not your job!! Try not to worry about them. Focus on having a good time. Keep it light. It’s pretty amazing you are all together. You will have time to process later. Big emotions do come and go. On Thanksgiving, enjoy the day. You are very courageous – stand in this knowing. 

From another first mom – in reunion with my daughter for 7 years. She’s coming to stay tonight with her 3 kids. When we first met, we both discussed how nervous we were but it all unfolded very naturally. I’m in phone contact with my son and he wants to meet up before Xmas and I feel just as nervous again, Although you never know how things will play out, you have to start somewhere. Being nervous is very normal.

Surprising Reunions

Holly Shearer and Benjamin Hulleberg

Benjamin’s birth mother, Holly, was only 15 when she gave birth to him. When she was 6 months into her pregnancy, she began to search for adoptive parents for her baby. She feared that she would not be able to provide adequately for him.

Benjamin was given up to Angela and Brian Hulleberg on the day he was born, which just happened to be Thanksgiving Day in 2001. His adoption was never hidden from him and his adoptive parents talked to him about his biological mother.

Like many adoptees, including my own adoptee mom, Benjamin had always had a deep desire to meet his birth mother. He searched for her for many years. He’d written letters to adoption agencies of Utah, had his DNA tested and registered with the adoption registry. Nothing came of his efforts.

Like many birth mothers, Holly cared deeply about the baby she had given up for adoption and did a google search which found him on Facebook. 2 days before his 20th birthday, she took a risk to message him on Facebook – “You don’t know me but 20 years ago I made the hardest decision of my life and placed my beautiful little baby up for adoption with a beautiful family.”

Like many birth mothers, she was concerned about disrupting her son’s life, yet she simply wanted him to know that she had thought about him every day of his life. So she admitted that she finally found the courage to send him a message. She simply wanted to wish him a happy birthday.

When Benjamin saw the message, of course he wanted to meet her right away. So, they planned to have dinner and agreed that both of their families should be there to support them. On National Adoption Day, his wish became a reality. He discovered he had 2 half-siblings and that he was actually working at the same hospital that his birth mother worked at.

His mother is a medical assistant at the heart center at HCA Healthcare’s St. Mark’s Hospital. Hulleberg volunteered at the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. She notes that “Every morning, I would come in through the women’s pavilion to come into work. So, I passed right by the NICU every single day. We parked in the same garage, could have been on the same floor, had no idea that we were so close.”

After their reunion, Benjamin moved in with his mother, Holly. He also shares a coffee break with her each day before his shift in the NICU. He will leave soon to attend school in another Utah town.

~ today’s story courtesy of The Huffington Post.

The Weird Joy of Reunion

Sharing the current state of reunion that one adoptee has experienced.

Change. Change can be so beautiful, but very difficult. The past six months, I started my journey to find my birth family. Not only did I find both my mother and father. I found many other family members.

When I found my parents it was extremely exciting, but honestly, it brought up so many different emotions I didn’t expect to be brought up. It was weird talking for hours with these strangers that somewhere weren’t strangers. It was even weirder loving these two people that I’ve never even met. It confused me how it could be possible. How can I love two people that I don’t know. Looking at it now, it’s so beautiful. God intended natural family to be together. It wasn’t intended for adoption to be a thing. That love I have for them is wired in me. I didn’t know I would feel that way from the start. I thought that maybe I wouldn’t even like them. Thankfully, that love just comes naturally with parents and their children.

I am lucky enough to be building a relationship with them. It has been all I wanted for almost nineteen years and now I have it. It still blows my mind that I know them. Not only do I know them, but they want to know everything about me. I couldn’t be more blessed with who they are.

So yeah, you could say my life has changed. This change has brought sadness, happiness, confusion, and about any other emotion you could think of. Memories good and bad have been brought back to life. I am so glad God chose my adoptive and biological family to love me. Through all of this, I have seen just how lucky I am to have so many people rooting for me. I am even luckier that my biological mom chose my family. I get to tell the people who made me about the people who raised me and be so proud. Although this journey has been hard for my parents, birth parents, and everyone else involved, I am so excited for my future with my entire family.

Krista Driver NPE

Today’s story comes from an essay in Right To Know. NPE stands for non-paternity event (also known as misattributed paternity, not parent expected, or NPE) is when someone who is presumed to be an individual’s father is not in fact the biological father. This presumption may be on the part of the individual, the parents, or the attending midwife, physician or nurse.

The story that was told to her was that her mother was 15 years old and homeless, living in a van, and making a lot of poor choices as many troubled teens do. She didn’t have adult supervision, and drugs and parties and a little bit of crime-ing seemed like good ideas to her at the time. One winter day, she was arrested for “breaking and entering.” The police found her in a pile of dirty clothes in the back of her mother’s van. Her mother went to juvenile hall and she went to the hospital. They say, she weighed only 2 lbs and diagnosed her as “Failure to Thrive”. The doctor told the social worker, “It will be a miracle if this baby lives through the night”. She acknowledges, “I guess I wasn’t ready to ‘give up’ because I lived to tell the tale.”

After some years in foster care, about the time she turned 4 years old, she was taken into court and her mother was there. When she entered the courtroom, her mother was telling the judge, “They can have her now and then give her back to me when she’s about 10”. He tapped the papers on his desk and said, “I’ve seen enough”. And with that, he ended her mother’s parental rights, and Krista was now eligible to be adopted by her foster family.

She shares, “Doctor visits were always weird because I had to remind them every visit that I was adopted and therefore did not know my family’s medical information. The worst was the school family tree assignments.” LOL, she admits, “I just made stuff up. One year, my family were missionaries in China and lived off bugs in the forest. Another year, my parents were in hiding from the Mexican mafia and we were in the witness protection program. Every year, the stories become more outlandish. And not one adult asked me what was going on with me—maybe because they all knew I was adopted and didn’t want to talk about that because people just didn’t talk about adoption back then.”

She continues her story –

When I was about 12, I saw an Oprah Winfrey show on “Adoptees and Happy Reunions” and I distinctly recall wishing I could have a “happy reunion” with my mother. I mean, I figured enough time had passed so surely she was more mature and sober. There were no computers or internet back then, so I walked down to the library and looked through phone books. I copied down ALL the people with her last name and then I snail-mailed letters to all five of them. One ended up with my birth mother’s grandparents and one with her sister. Naturally, I hadn’t told anyone I was even going to look, so imagine my parent’s surprise when one night my great-grandfather called.

My parents took me to meet my great-grandparents and they were nice enough. He showed me some of the genealogy he had done, and I was instantly fascinated. From that moment on, I’ve loved genealogy and researching ancestry. They told my parents not to allow me to meet my birth mother because “She had a lot of problems and it wouldn’t be good for me to meet her”. So, just like that, the adults in my world decided it wasn’t in my best interests to meet her without even bothering to ask what I wanted or thought.

And this part is sad – It wasn’t until many years later that I fully came face to face with a harsh truth about my great-grandparents. They knew about me when I was born. They knew I was in foster care. They knew Sharon was “trying” to get me back. And yet, they left me there. They didn’t help her. She was 15 and living on the streets. They let their great-grandchild spend the first four years of her life in foster care. Then they met me at age 12. Once. And never called or wrote or anything after that. I will never understand why they made those choices.

Krista chose the field of psychology as her career path. In grad school, she once again had that dang family tree assignment. This time she decided to do it with real people and real information. So, she dug out her biological aunt’s phone number and called her for help. She agreed and they arranged a day for Krista to drive down to San Diego to meet her. On that day, her aunt decided it would be a good day for Krista to meet her biological mom, their mother, and her brothers. She admits – The only problem was that she neglected to tell me. I walked into a family reunion of sorts and I was not prepared. It was very, VERY, overwhelming. I was 21 and I simply did not have the emotional maturity to withstand all the emotions that flew at me and in me and around me. I was stunned into silence.

She describes the moment she saw her mom, Sharon, and they locked eyes. The woman had no idea who Krista was. One of her uncles went over and told her mother. When recognition hit her eyes, so did something else. From where Krista was standing – it looked like shame and guilt and an intense desire to flee. Somehow they bridged the distance and hugged. Her mother kept saying, “you’re so beautiful”. Krista says, “And I felt nothing. And I felt everything. And time stood still. And the past rushed in. It was the most confusing moment of my entire life.”

Her mother told Krista “Michael” was her father. She found him and met with him. He told her he remembered Sharon and a baby, but that he wasn’t her father. Michael was with her the day she got arrested and Krista was taken away. Later he ran into Sharon and she told him the baby died, and he went on with his life. Then, Krista shows up 21 years later claiming to be his daughter. Leaving his house one day he said to her, “I’m not your father, but I will be one if you need one”. She says, he really was a sweet man who had made a lot of mistakes in his past, but he married an amazing woman and had two lovely children. For 26 years, she thought he was her biological father. And after the night she met her mother, Sharon, they did develop a pretty good relationship though their relationship was complicated. 

Eventually, she did an Ancestry DNA test. Michael was right. He isn’t her father. Thomas is. He was 35 and her mother was 15, when Krista was conceived. A lot like the parentage of both of my own adoptee parents. Each was young (though in their 20s, not teenagers) and the fathers were both much older men. Reminds me of the time my husband and I tried to do some match-making for his dad’s twin brother only to discover he was only interested in much younger women. LOL

When Krista asked her mother who Thomas was and she just started crying. She let her mother know she would be willing to speak with her when her mother was ready to tell her the truth. They never spoke again. Sharon died unexpectedly a few months later and took her secrets to her grave. Well, actually, Sharon’s ashes are in Krista’s closet sitting right next to her stuffed monkey George. Sharon was 62 years old. Yet, Krista knows her mother also lied about so many things.

She says there were little to no resources here in the US. The UK had quite a bit of data (clinical studies) to pull from. Krista began to formulate a really good sense of how to define what she was feeling and put some contours around her experience. From there, she was able to identify healthy, impactful ways to walk through this NPE landscape. Solo. She didn’t have a single person who could identify with what she was going through.

Krista has turned this into her practice as a therapist. She trains other clinicians who are interested in working with this population. She has opened up virtual support groups for NPE (adult and adolescents), NPE Dads (biological dads), and NPE Wives (those whose husbands discover a child). She also works with people one-on-one and has worked with people from all across the US and from other countries. She is honored to note there will be a major clinical study here in the US (starting in the very near future) that she will be involved in.

She ends her essay with this – With the advent of home DNA kits, it’s not a matter of IF your secrets are revealed, it’s a matter of WHEN. The “recovery” isn’t necessarily linear, but it is survivable. I promise you that.

Reunion Questions

If at 17 years old, adopted from foster care with no contact with your birth mother your entire life but now with an opportunity to ask some questions . . .

What would you as this adoptee ask your birth parents ? If you have been through such a reunion, what were the questions that you thought, in hindsight, weren’t helpful to potentially building a relationship ?

Some responses –

Ask for the family medical history. This one is one of the more important ones. This is what drove my mom to try and find her original mother and/or obtain her adoption file.

Ask how many biological siblings you have. This one lets you know if you are the only child of your birth parents or did they go on to have other children, maybe through a remarriage to someone who was not your original father as well.

Ask for the reason they chose whatever decisions they had in their power to make that led to you ending up in foster care. This one could be a tricky one, it may lead to defensiveness or in the best possible situation, at least regret, and even better, ultimately to a radical change in lifestyle.

If they relinquished for adoption, did they decide to do that early on at the beginning of the pregnancy or at the last moment just before birth or just after ? In both of the cases of my adoptee parents relinquishments, it appears that their original mothers actually tried very hard to keep their first born child, and in the case of my mom, the only child born to her mother.

Ask who your biological father was. Does she know how to contact him ?

On a sweeter, more intimate note (I know this was the kind of information I yearned for related to my mom’s mother that finally at the end of most of my discovery journey, I finally received from my mom’s cousins, the daughter’s of her youngest uncle, who were about my age) – ask her what her favorite foods are, what is her favorite color. Ask about her childhood memories and ask her to tell you something about her extended family members.

One says – “I really wanted to look at my birthmother, hear her voice, and look at her handwriting. Basically I wanted to see if I could find that mirror of who I am.” This is the personal connection many adoptees crave. I do believe my mom yearned for these kinds of experiences. I now have the adoption file that was denied her and one of the treasures are two examples of her personal writing, a post card and a brief letter (though I also have her signature on the surrender papers).

Another interesting perspective that I saw even with my mom who wanted something, though my dad claimed not to want it at all – it is a strange juncture for any adoptee to arrive at, when been raised by people with whom the adoptee has not genetic or biological connection but who were the actual parents and sibling’s in the childhood family –

I told them that I was not ready for a full relationship with them. I wanted them to know I was alive and wanted them to know I had an amazing childhood. My mom told me that as a mother, she would want to know that everything turned out okay for her child. In one case, the biological father started calling the adoptee, “daughter.” He was buying her things and saying “I Love You.” This made her feel very uncomfortable and so, she asked that he not do those things anymore. For this adoptee, she was not his daughter. Happily, he accepted her boundaries. She shares the rest of the story going forward – they are now Facebook friends. Today he is a little more involved in my her daily life. We talk by phone from time to time. She admits that she still does not have the feelings towards him that a raised biological child would (though some of my friends do not have good relationships in adulthood with their genetic, biological family today).

And sadly, this is always a possibility – “I’ve reached out to my birth mom and have been shut out – no answers to my questions. No desire for a relationship.” Yet, there is something you can do in this situation to bring you closure and comfort. Write a letter. Tell her everything you want her to know about you, your childhood, who you are now as a person. In this way, you end feeling you said everything you needed to say.

Ugandan Adoptee Reunion

From an article in Intercountry Adoptee Voices by Jessica Davis. She is an American adoptive mother of a Ugandan daughter, who successfully returned to her daughter back to her Ugandan family. She is also a co-founder of Kugatta which brings families together who are impacted by Ugandan intercountry adoption.

Jessica writes – Every year I think I will not cry and it will not hurt as deeply as it once did. But each time I see all what was almost permanently taken from Namata, the pain returns just as deep (if not deeper) than the first time when I realized what I had participated in — and what needed to be done. I still have extended family members who refuse to admit that reuniting her with her Ugandan family was the RIGHT and JUST thing to do.

There are many people that believe it is okay to take children from LOVING families if these families are poor, living in the “wrong” country, practicing the “wrong” religion, or for a number of other irrational reasons. It is incredible how much money, time and resources contributes to the separation of families who should never be separated in the first place.

I will never stop speaking out against the wrongs being perpetuated within the intercountry adoption system. I won’t stop fighting for those that have been exploited by this system and I will certainly never forget the amazing little girl that came into my life and taught me to do better. As much as I miss her, my heartache pales in comparison to the joy I feel seeing her home with her family and thriving.

We did everything “right”. We used a highly rated adoption agency, followed all of the proper protocols and procedures and reported everything that was wrong as we discovered it. In fact, even though it has been proven our adoption agency was corrupt, Namata’s paperwork was fabricated, the Ugandan judge was bribed, the embassy interview showed Namata’s mother did not understand what adoption was and we were not told this at the time, our adoption of Namata from Uganda was and still is considered LEGAL. What does this tell you about intercountry adoption?

Namata didn’t get to go home because it was the right and just thing to do. Serena’s rights being violated and Namata’s best interests ignored were irrelevant by those that should have cared. The reason Namata got to go home and be reunited with her family was because Adam and I refused to accept that this was all okay or “for the better”.

Rarely do I hear anyone express concern for these injustices or what has been lost, rather people use good intentions gone awry to ignore these realities and press on as if nothing wrong has occurred.

If people won’t listen or can’t understand the problem at hand, maybe they will SEE it when they look at this family and realize all that was almost lost and there was literally NO reason for it at all.

Jessica did her research.  Due to her findings, Jessica appealed to the authorities for an investigation into the American adoption agency, European Adoptions Consultants, Inc. (EAC) that had facilitated this adoption (I wrote about them in yesterday’s blog). As a result of that investigation, EAC was debarred and as of August 2019, one of their employees pled guilty to federal charges of visa fraud, wire fraud and bribing Ugandan judges and other officials in order to facilitate illegal adoptions abroad.

Unless I Truly Try

Persistence really does make all the difference in some situations. On Sunday night, my family had a lesson in persistence. We’ve been playing Scrabble on Sunday nights and are finding while it causes our night to run late, the whole family becomes engaged and some of the problematic issues we were encountering trying to watch videos as a family are now gone. We’ve been playing with the tiny board with lock in pieces meant for traveling rather than the large, more traditional board. That small footprint works out well on our cluttered dining room table.

But on Sunday night, my youngest son dropped his piece holder. Most of the pieces stayed on the floor but improbably one piece went bouncing down the stairs to the basement. We looked forever, everywhere, and discussed giving up and playing with one piece missing. However, my son could not accept that. He suggested sending another piece down the stairs to try and determine what happened with the missing piece. I thought for certain we’d end up with two pieces missing. We didn’t lose the second piece but it did show us the missing piece probably didn’t go very far from the stairs. It was then my youngest son, who was definitely the cause of this crazy situation and very upset by knowing that, saw the piece on the floor right under the lowest stair. How we all missed that is something to wonder at. His persistence made all the difference. That word has been on my mind as a writer and I even have a book in our library with that title that I haven’t read.

Today’s story involves the persistent effort of a transracial, internationally sourced adoptee.

I have paperwork from my closed international adoption. The thing is, for many of us, we don’t know how accurate or truthful our information is. I have names of both birth parents and in 2017, I searched my birth mom’s name on Facebook out of curiosity. It was a little tricky because her name is in English but I needed to translate and search it in Hangul. A couple profiles popped up and one of them had pictures. The woman and I share so many physical similarities. So I debated and agonized over whether or not I message or friend request her. I did both. Nothing.

4 years later, I decide to try again. I messaged her this time in Hangul hoping it would help. I’ve been learning Korean since February this year in hopes of being able to communicate. I also changed my profile name to include my Korean birth name in Hangul. This was in March, still nothing. I don’t have the option to friend request her again. I know I can go through other channels to find my birth mom but I’m so discouraged already. It takes so much out of me just to even make the choice to take action. Plus, if this woman is my birth mom and I contact her through other channels, she may deny me anyway.

I know I’ll never know unless I truly try. I know I can’t and shouldn’t assume anything. I know it’ll eat away at me if I don’t eventually do this. I just wish it wasn’t this hard, scary, expensive, confusing, terrifying, and frustrating. My reality is that right now, I wish I wasn’t adopted.

One very good suggestion was this – Have you joined any Facebook groups for ex-pats in Korea? I live in Korea right now and I see people posting in the ex-pat groups looking for information about original families or unknown fathers, there’s enough people in those groups that maybe some information can turn up.

I know that in my own adoption search efforts (both parents were adopted) it did take some degree of persistence and I did not have the international complications to deal with. However, my paternal grandmother was unwed and went to a Salvation Army Home for Unwed Mothers to give birth to my dad. His original birth certificate does not name the father. Thankfully, my grandmother left me breadcrumbs – both in the name she gave my dad and in a little headshot photo with his father’s name on the back. And I did go into some dead ends. My breakthrough came through Find A Grave and his second marriage step-daughter. She confirmed the headshot was the man she knew.

Then, DNA matching really completed the task, even connecting me to Danish relatives still living in that country who had no idea my paternal grandfather had any children. So, a task that seemed unlikely to succeed at first, eventually brought me knowledge of all 4 original grandparents – even against what seemed like daunting odds at first.