…is not much.
At an early age my adoptive parents made it clear that they were my real parents, real family and that they would be deeply hurt, and not to mention disappointed, if I ever wanted to learn about my “roots”– which was the euphemism for “biological parents.” They spoke candidly about how they felt and provided me with a handful of quite terrifying anecdotes, detailing the possible repercussions of wanting to find my “roots.” The one that created the largest amount of inner turmoil during my childhood was the one in which I would be forced to choose between the two families, erroneously painted as “the one that loves you” and “the one that didn’t want you and doesn’t love you.”
Fortunately enough, I don’t remember much of my childhood, but I do remember crying myself to sleep on multiple occasions because I loved both families, even the one that might not want or love me, so imagining the dire situation where I would have to pick between the two (in what had been painted as a bitter dispute in which no one would survive) was nothing short of heart-wrenching. It left me torn and haunted me on and off for many years.
I’m not sure when I was finally able to shed that anecdote from my consciousness, or if I ever really have, but at the time (which remind you was very young), any inclination for learning about my “roots” quickly dissipated. It was something that, to this day, is not spoken about.
Ironically, I was still forced to go to at least one of the adoption agency’s potlucks and awkwardly sit on grandma Holt’s lap. I also had to wear a little Korean dress and shoes (which must have been sent over with me) so that my parents could get their annual photograph. I hated both, probably due to the resulting confusion of ‘does this mean I learn about my heritage?’ After ingesting the terrifying implications of what that would mean, I had chosen the path that led to repressing the fact that I was adopted and different. If it weren’t for the photographic evidence of sitting on grandma Holt’s lap or wearing traditional Korean clothes, I’m about 95% certain that I never would have recalled these instances.
All of that said, I really don’t know much about my adoption. Here is what I do know:
- My (closed) adoption was through Holt International, which flew children from South Korea to Nashville, Tennessee.
- There were multiple babies on my flight over.
- I was born in Seoul, South Korea and given a Korean name, although I’m not sure if it was given to me by my biological mom/parents, the hospital, or the government.
- I don’t have a twin.
- Due to medical complications, upon arrival in the United States I was somewhere between 5-7 months old. (I’m not sure if it’s reasonable to infer that I was always in a hospital during this time, so there’s the possibility that I was in an orphanage.)
I’m not sure if the lack of information is normal of a closed adoption or a result of years of ignoring the elephant in the room, but I’m hopeful that these years of blocking and repressing will work to my advantage. The way I see it, anything I find will have a high probability of being more than what I currently know, so it is with this mindset that I approach the upcoming journey.