March 29, 2010

Verklemmt

That's me. Verklemmt, and wondering if I'll ever come unstuck.

Don't know what to write. Don't know how to write anymore. Focusing on the hard reality of joblessness for the past couple of months has had the unintended consequence of robbing me of any imagination I might have had. It seems that life has become all about cold hard facts - financial facts above all.

That and missing the kids. It's almost impossible for me to walk through a room, particularly the kids' rooms, without finding something that sends me back through time, often with the accompaniment of tears. This week Third Dad found a source for many sobs while cleaning out a couple of drawers in one of our bedroom chests.

First, there was the little paper heart, folded in half all taped up with two dimes inside. In The Boy's nearly-illegible handwriting is a note that says Dear Mom, who do I wish a Merry Christmas? Inside I can make out YOU above the dimes that have dropped to the bottom of the folded heart. Third Dad also found a note from The Girl, this one written neatly on lined paper with two dimes and a nickel taped below the signature, dated Dec. 24, 1999: Dear Mom, Please keep the 25 cents I gave you, because its a present from me. You can do whatever you want with it. Love, The Girl.

Just writing this is making me cry. I miss the kids so incredibly much. I don't know why I have found it so hard to watch them go off to college, I don't know if what I'm feeling is typical or over the top - I only know that when I walk into their empty rooms that I think my heart will break. And unlike the feelings that brought me here way back when, I just don't know how to put this pain into words.

Which brings me to adoption. When I first started writing here, I came because I yearned to know my children's mothers. No offense to their fathers, but I really only wanted to know the women who might have ushered them through growth, just as they ushered them into the world. But it's so very odd - these women have been an incredible presence in my life from the first moment The Boy was placed in my arms, but now that the kids are walking over the threshold to adulthood (The Boy turns 21 in a week, my friends), their presence is fading. Becoming less real, more distant, and hazier.

I don't understand why. I've heard many times that when Korean mothers move into their 40s, which my children's mothers are, even older, they sometimes find the strength to search. Perhaps it's because they've raised other children and feel more confident in their ability to control the circumstances and outcomes. Or maybe they just can't stand the pain of the loss anymore. I honestly don't know, but I've heard this from Korean social workers more than once, and have done a lot of hoping for it. But just as we reach the point at which these women just might start reaching out, I find my emotional connection to them become more and more diffuse.

I remember writing a post several years ago in which I imagined Third Dad and I were bystanders at the first meeting of The Boy and his mother. Although I said at the beginning of the post that it was fiction, the majority of the commenters believed the meeting had taken place. I ultimately took the post down, because it was causing so much confusion, and I frankly began to be embarrassed that I had imagined the event so vividly. It was over the top, no doubt, but heartfelt, completely and utterly heartfelt. But today when I think about such a meeting, I find it hard to marshall similar emotions.

In a way it makes me angry that so much emotion can be directed at such an important relationship, to no avail. It makes me angry, just as this post that Susan wrote earlier in the month made me feel. Relationships are difficult at the best of times, but with adoption in the picture, they become impossibly, ridiculously complicated.

Now, I know that I really have no right to meet my children's mothers. I'm not suggesting that my desire to do so is in any way equivalent to the adoptee experience; everything I've written here comes from a heart that knows its place, and can accept the loss. But can my children do that? Does anyone have the right to expect them to?

No. Yet here we are in a world that thinks it's perfectly normal.

Makes me angry and sad and tired. And, except for little venting posts like this one, nearly silent on the subject these days.

I wish I had a magic wand to wave and put it all right, because talking about it doesn't seem to be doing the trick.

March 17, 2010

Return policy

Think about this next time you're discussing relinquishment revocation issues with someone and they don't get it. Many thanks to Jennifer Kwon Dobbs for this powerful reminder of how ridiculous it is to expect a woman to be able to make as momentous a decision as surrender in just a few days:

60 days = timeframe to return to Target a lamp you don't like but
72 hours = max proposed timeframe for deciding your family's future fate

Now, continue thinking about this in the context of this Korea Times article about Korean Health and Welfare Minister Jeon Jae-hee. To counteract Korea's low birth rate, Ms. Jeon proposes early dismissal evenings, matchmaking programs, and speed-dating events to encourage Koreans to take the plunge and procreate. Clever woman!

It should come as no surprise that there's no mention of support for single mothers in the article.

March 9, 2010

VOTE! Get the original birth certificate issue before President Obama!

I owe a whole lotta people a whole lotta thanks about a whole lotta stuff, and will write about that over the weekend. Before I started my new job my brain was mush from the unemployment experience - now it's mush from everything I'm learning! All good, just lots and lots of it.

Right now, though, I need you to head on over to Change.Org and VOTE! If we can keep the issue of adoptee rights to their original birth certificates in 10th place or higher, it will get President Obama's attention - at least that's what I've been told. Because I'm so out of the loop you guys probably know this already, but I got an email that we slipped a little recently, so if you've posted about it already, please bump it up.

You can vote multiple times, so bookmark the site and visit often!

March 3, 2010

Watching women gain strength ...

... is a beautiful thing to see.

It's especially beautiful for me to watch Korean mothers face the challenge of taking control of their futures. It will be no mean feat for them to do this, given the patriarchial nature of Korean society. But they're doing it all the same - standing up, speaking out, demanding the right to be mothers to the children they carried.

I often wonder what my children's mothers think when they read these articles. They undoubtedly read them, because the topic is one that's often in the Korean news. I'm sure they feel regret when they read stories about women who buck the system and keep their babies; resignation, too. And sadness mixed with a little fear, I think, when they imagine how their lives might have unfolded had they made the same decision. Yes, I'm sure they feel all of these and more.

I hope, though, that sorrow isn't the only emotion these articles bring to them. I hope that the experiences of the women in these articles gives my children's mothers the courage to do what they haven't allowed themselves to do before: Reach out to their children. I hope and pray that reading about women like Choi Houng-suk gives strength to those who couldn't find it before, to seek and hopefully find the children they surrendered.

I like to imagine my children's mothers reading articles like these, the possibility of reunion turning in their minds, hands reaching tentatively for telephones or paper to take the first tenuous steps. Whenever I read one, my thoughts and prayers inevitably start to say just do it.

Start looking. You will find your child. He is here. She is here. Safe and sound and waiting to know you.

More here:

Reaching out to unwed mothers
Raising child not a matter of choice
Unmarried mothers coming out of isolation
Helping our single mothers