Post by Matt Anderson, adopted 1983, Michigan
Taking the long taxi ride to a place I haven’t been to in over 27 years was surprisingly calm. I believed I knew what was in my file and there would be no new information. Of course I was hoping that there was something more about my past that I could connect to my mother with, but if there wasn’t, that wouldn’t be the end of the world. When we arrived at Social Welfare Society looking at the SWS sign was surreal. Thinking I had been in the place at one point of my life even though I didn’t remember it caused some strong emotions inside of me.
We then watched a promotional video that made me even more emotional. Of course that’s the purpose of the video, but still seeing the unwed mothers speak briefly was rough, especially thinking my mother was in the same situation with me. After the video we individually met with a social worker to go over our files. It was basically the same information I had already received from Americans for International Aid and Adoption, which was what I expected. Seeing the original copies in both Korean and English was something great to see.
The social worker said she had some updates for me. First it was about my foster mother, who was unable to meet with me, but really wishes she was able to. While I was disappointed, I understood the circumstances and didn’t want to be a burden to her. The social worker said she would call one last time to see how the foster mother was doing since I was going to be in Korea for a little while longer and if she was feeling better, she would set up a meeting. Sandy suggested we get a picture of me and give it to the foster mother which I thought was a great idea.
Then the stunner came, they had an update about my mother. Coming into this tour I did not want them to find her. I had all sorts of emotions in my head and heart about looking for her, but in the end I decided I didn’t want to look for her at this time. When I explained to the social worker I didn’t want to see my mother, she was shocked. But since she knew, I asked her what the information was. Unfortunately, my birth mother denied ever having a baby in 1983 (the year of my birth). My heart sank. As a matter of fact that was the last thing I wanted to hear.
The social worker then explained that once denying having a baby, there was no more she could do since the mother would not cooperate. She suggested we could try contacting her again while I was here, but could not do so without my permission. I told her I didn’t want to pursue this any further right now, since I figured we could find her again if I ever wanted to try again. While I’m sad I’ve been denied, I’m happy to hear my mother is still alive, has a family and possibly is doing well for herself. To be honest, I’m excited to think I potentially have brothers and sisters I never knew about. And while I may never meet them, they are still (potentially) out there.
The rest of the day I was in a fog. And to be honest, two days later I still am. However, I’m really lucky that my roommate on the tour was here for me last night and listened to me and when he explained his story I realized I was not alone. I don’t know what I would have done had I just gone to bed without talking to him and I’ll forever be eternally grateful for him listening to me. I also have to thank my parents who I called immediately the next morning and listened to me and cried with me. I don’t know what I would do without the strength of my parents who have been supportive of me my entire life.
One night later speaking with more adoptees (and their husbands) was also great, because we all listened to each other and while we all are in similar situations, they still are different. However no matter what those differences are, I knew they were there for me and would listen and be supportive. I don’t think I would have been able to do this search on my own, without the support of the fellow adoptees (and of course their husbands). This tour has been a godsend for me and I’m really happy I came on it, even if my outcome was not ideal.
Tomorrow we are going to an unwed mother’s home, which we are allowed to skip out on if we don’t feel comfortable going to, but I want to go. I’m not sure how long I’ll last without crying (like I am right now as I type this up), but if there’s anything I want to say to them is that they should do what they feel is best for themselves and their child. I wish I could tell my mother I am fine, I’m healthy, happy, have led a good life for the past 28 years, I’m going to live the rest of my life to the fullest, I’m happy and thankfully to her I was born and I am not upset with her. She may not have raised me, but she’ll always be my mother and I’ll love her.
Thank you Holt and Bethany for hosting this tour, doing all the wonderful work behind the scenes to ensure this trip with 18 strangers goes well. And thank you Social Welfare Society for making my visit to the agency that helped me settle into a new life as an infant help me reconnect with my past a wonderful one. SWS went above and beyond my expectations of how they treated us adoptees and while something got lost in translation regarding my mother, I am definitely not upset with anyone involved in the process.