They say the hard part about reunions is not the reunion itself…it’s everything that comes after. What kind of relationship can we expect? When will the awkwardness fade?
Mike reunited with his Korean mom in January 2012, right before we made plans to leave Korea for good. Because of this, and because of the promise of Mike going full-time at his job, we made the decision to stay. I found employment with a new public school. We moved and we adjusted and we waited…
The next few meetings with Mike’s Korean mom were brief and not particularly enlightening. At times Mike and I were frustrated with Korean culture and how certain topics were taboo, brushed aside, or explained in a roundabout way. This happened a lot when we asked questions about Mike’s father, and the circumstances of his death and Mike’s adoption. A lot of the information we received later turned out not to be true, and was said to protect us from the truth.
I suppose it’s okay because finding out the whole circumstances of Mike’s adoption was never really the point; just being able to meet with his mom face to face was enough for him. I remember Mike saying how much he really missed hearing her voice after we met her the first time. Now, every time I see him with her he transforms into a happy little boy before my eyes.
One year later (and some)…
We met with Mike’s mom about 5 or 6 times in 2012, mostly brief visits where we’d share a meal and talk about meeting other relatives. She also opened up a bit more about her life after Mike’s adoption. We learned that after Mike was adopted, she and her husband adopted two children, we believe as a way to atone for her guilt of giving up Mike. Her new mother-in-law did not accept Mike into the family which is why he was given up. We assume after her mother-in-law’s death, Mike’s mom adopted the other children, who still don’t know that they are adopted. In all, not including Mike, his mother has 5 children, two stepchildren, two adopted, and one child (Mike’s half-sister) with her husband.
One of my friends put it best: “That poor woman, how can she walk around with so many secrets?” Even now, when we meet her, she’s compelled to ask Mike, “Do you know why you were adopted? Do you understand why I couldn’t raise you?” There is still so much guilt there. But, I think slowly but surely, we’re starting to see that guilt lift a bit.
It’s taken over a year, but we finally have some answers to the questions about Mike’s dad. What were the circumstances of his death? What kind of man was he? What did he look like? Does Mike look like him?
Mike had some strong unfavorable memories of his father, but didn’t really know the truth.
For now, we are continuing to take things slowly with his mom, much more slowly than we’d like, but we understand she has her own life and other children to attend to. We are trying to be patient and wait to see what happens. What Mike would like more than anything is to be invited into her home, have a meal, and for his existence not to be a secret from his siblings and family. A lot, I know! But who would have thought we would have gotten this far? So please, prayers our way for Mike’s relationship with his birth family. Who knows? It might be a good thing for Mike’s Korean mom to finally let go of all those secrets…
p.s. More about Mike’s reunion with his maternal grandmother and aunt in an upcoming post.