Friday, October 5, 2012

Meeting the Wrong Birth Parents

A Korean adoptee, who thought she'd met her birth parents -- until the DNA tests showed they were the wrong people (they actually belonged to another Korean adoptee, a mixup from the orphanage), tells her story on the Ricki Lake Show:
I sat in a lobby nearly 6000 miles from home with nerves nagging my insides, sweating my brains out and breathing as heavily an 85-year old man with sleep apnea. I’ve waited before– for auditions, at the doctor’s office, in line at the DMV... But never had I been so overcome with fear, joy and hope (although, the anticipation of a new driver’s license picture does conjure up the aforementioned feelings). As far as I knew, this was the most important day of my life. I was about to meet the people whose genetic makeup I had been toting around for the past 29 years of my life.

My name is Michaela and I am adopted. I was born in South Korea, where I lived until, at three and a half months old, I joined my new family, a kind posse of tall Caucasians living in Upstate New York. From as far back as I can remember, I have thought about my bio-mom; what she looked like, where she was now, if we had the same raspy voice and raucous laugh, if we would one day meet, if she ever thought about me…

Last year I received a letter from the orphanage in Korea notifying me that they had located my bio-mother! And get this: She’s married to my bio-father! They have two children, AKA my full-blooded siblings! Finally, I could play out the reunion fantasies that had been camping out in my brain for years.

* * *

As I walked through the door, tears coating my face, my first thought was, ‘they look nothing like me.’ I was mad at myself for being so critical in the first moments, so I tucked the doubts away and hugged without abandonment. (No pun intended). It was exactly as I had pictured it: we embraced and cried and then cried some more—my bio-mom could not let me go. For as big of deal as this was for me, it was a bigger deal for her.

* * *

After leaving Korea, I had been back in Los Angeles for a couple of months, anxiously awaiting the DNA results. When they came, I felt devastated and vindicated: The people I met in Korea were not my family. From what the Korean orphanage explained to me, they belonged to someone else; another girl who had been born on the same day I was. We were two star-crossed babies. Who was this other girl? Where was she now? Would I ever meet her? I had met her bio-family. I hoped she would get the chance to meet them too.


Korean War Baby said...

As one who lived in the Rep. of Korea for over 16 years, a founding member of GOA'L, and blogger on This Thing of Ours-Adoption...I am very upset, even angry that the television station did not have the sense to confirm with the DNA before you were brought over. There is only one reason, they thought it was not necessary.

They wanted the "Payoff" of an emotional re-union, that was their bottom line. This type of thing, the mockery done by even having large numbers 'counting down' has been used on these programs that exploit and use people for their gain. I was part of the screening process twice to get on the show, and they turned me down because they had little chance to find my natural/birth mother.

What bothered me was that they took only the most extreme cases, in one case an American Adoptee who was dying of cancer. Their investigators rushed into finding 'leads' that were bogus. I advise all KADs to be very wary, keep your emotions in check. Insist on DNA verification first before all parties are brought together to be an object for Korean Drama.

The Korean War Baby

him buwa said...

Maybe I'm reading your comment incorrectly (korean war baby) but it wasn't the show that did the 'reunion'. the show was just telling adoption related stories.

on that note, once again i'm discouraged by this blog. why only share the one story? the one that fits your interests of showing how terrible IA is? for anyone reading this there were many heartwarming adoption stories on this show. adoption is a great thing. if you missed it watch it and see how lovely adoption is for so many families. and it should be noted the young lady in this post is a very happy woman with parents who she loves and who love her.

Stephanie said...

Yes, him buwa, only show the 'positive' and never the real and tangible negatives in adoption, so to appease adopters sensibilities?

I applaud this blog owner for having the guts, as an adoptive parent, to show all sides of the spectrum, not just the 'happy, dappy, life is so perfect and full of rainbow and unicorns' stories when clearly this is not the case for so many people who have lived adoption.

Sorry to break it to ya, but adoption is not so 'positive' for those who lose while others gain. People who fail to see that or just turn a blind eye to that fact is what 'discourages' me.

him buwa said...

stephanie - how is this blog owner showing "all sides of the spectrum" when she picked the one story (although still a happy adoption outcome) that fit her needs of showing how terrible adoption is? there were lovely stories she could have shared. that what i want to point out - that anyone reading this blog is getting biased info.

Leah said...

Gee, it's almost like adoption is incredibly emotionally, legally, and ethically complex or something!


I also notice that you didn't address my response to your comment on another one of Malinda's blog entries, him buwa. And speaking of comments -- I really wouldn't expect Malinda to respond. She's not even moderating these posts anymore, given the spam I've seen.

Stephanie said...

him buwa, I have taken the time to read most, if not all of her posts and she does cover "all sides of the spectrum", not just what YOU and so many want to hear that makes it easier for you to sleep at night, thanks.

As I said before, adoption is not all rainbows and sunshine for a those who lose while others gain.

Kudos to one, among only a handful it seems, who appears to grasp that adoption does cause much pain and grief in the lives of those who lost each other. It is refreshing to read a blog from adoptive parent who actually cares about feelings other than her own. She does have compassion and empathy for natural mothers, adoptees and adoptive parents alike. Refreshing indeed.

Mei-Ling said...

for anyone reading this there were many heartwarming adoption stories on this show. adoption is a great thing.

And the rest of the world merely reinforces this message. said...

I agree with "him buwa". I think the site publishes more negative stories about adoption than positive ones but I don't think positive news stories are as "newsworthy" and I don't see very many of them anywhere. How many positive parenting stories (bio or adoptive) do you find in the newspaper or online?

I have found the negative to be a positive. I am an adoptive parent and it has helped us with how we parent. Made us think. That is good. Also made me annoyed.

him buwa said...

leah - typically i don't go back and read old post but i did try to find your comments. you ask (i think) why i read this blog. i read this blog because i want all the info on adoption. good and bad. i read it because the blog description says "talking about adoption, birthparents, abandonment, race, and china with my kids. that's not all we talk about -- but reading this blog, you'll think it's all we do!!" it doesn't say it focuses on every bad adoptions story.

however, if that is what this is about i will certainly refrain from posting. clearly many readers do not want to hear differing opinions.

i'll leave you with a story i have come to personally know. the story of a girl starting college in the u.s. this fall. a story of a girl who was to be adopted but the adoption fell through at the 11th hour as the birth parents said they didn't intend for her to be adopted. she was 6. since then she was housed in an orphanage and attended school at the pap's expense (who had previously adopted a sibling). her birth family NEVER visited her although they had the means to do so. she was rejected and is now with the adoptive family (and a birth sibling in the states). in a country where it is illegal and shameful to put a child up for adoption the birth parents did what they felt they had to do. but the child missed out on a loving family. hopefully they will make up for lost time.

like i said, i want to hear all the stories. i'm doing everything i can to locate my childs birth family. i know it's not all rosy. but many (most) stories are. i know my child had some medical issues that would have caused serious permanent disability and potential death had she not received appropriate medical care. she had her 'almost' first clear physical on tuesday. one more issue left. she is a part of the cultural of her birth country. we are the only parents at the events that are not of that culture and the community has been accepting of us and of her. they have told us so many times that they wish more people would adopt from their country because so many kids needs homes. we are invited to their family gatherings and learn a ton. celebrating chinese new year and eating chinese food is not being part of a culture. just saying...

so.,.. if you don't want to hear theses stories i won't post them. and if this blog is an anti adoption blog - if the readers are anti adoption then i can be bullied out of here. because quite frankly i find much of this offensive.

one more thing for you to ponder… when returning from overseas i met a lovely woman who was adopting her 4th or 5th child. he has very significant special needs. we started talking and she shared that she was very active in PEAR in the past. after decided that they along with UNICEF have lost track of what they set out to do she is no longer part of either org. you all may want to think about whether you are doing what you feel is the right thing or whether you are fighting for something just to be 'right'. it's ok to admit errors. it's ok to say adoption is usually but not always a great thing for families.

Stephanie said...
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Stephanie said...
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Stephanie said...

@ him buwa

"but many (most) stories are."

MOST stories are? And you know this to be a fact, or do you just live in fantasy land, as so many ap's seem to live?

"" and "him buwa" are both so dead set on calling this an "anti-adoption blog" and are so defensive and possessive of another families child to see anything other than your blind entitlement of said children.

Why does her speaking of natural families, right along with adoptive families, in a HUMANE way bother you so much? The fact that it does bother you so much speaks volumes, truly.

The woman who writes the blog is an adoptive parent, for god's sake! I hardly think she is "anti" her children, only PRO seeing other sides of adoption, besides JUST HER OWN, unlike so many of you.

Moreover, no one is "bullying" anyone. If speaking the truth about one's own life and how adoption almost destroyed it is "bullying", so be it. So, it is okay to dehumanize and degrade natural families and treat adoptees as perpetual children with no thought process of their own for the rest of their lives, but when anyone speaks out against such treatment we are "bullies", "angry" and the best one of all, "bitter". Puhleeezzze.

I think so many of you take issue with the fact the people can and do control the narratives of their own lives; and that is an issue indeed for control freaks... said...

I did not call this site an anti adoption site. I said the site publishes more negative than positive stories about adoption. I also wrote that I find that to be a positive as it helps me parent. It makes me think and that is good. I have no problem with anyone speaking the truth about their life; it is not mine to speak about. . I am VERY pro adoption – that said adoption is a complex issue and it starts with loss – there is no way around that

Mei-Ling said...

I said the site publishes more negative than positive stories about adoption.

And where do you NOT find positive stories about adoption?

Stephanie said...

"Isaid the site publishes more negative than positive stories about adoption."

Why does it bother you so much that she writes anything negative, that highlights the very real pain of two parties who lose each other?

You are more concerned with having your pro adoption sensibilities validated, rather than care much for the negative impacts of mothers, families and children who lose each other. I find that to be one of the many things wrong with infant adoption.

Dorthy Packer said...

Wow, what a crazy story! How did the orphanage mix up her information? I bet that was very hard on the child when she realized that was not her mother. Do you know what the adoption agencies are in illinois? I would love to do some research. Thank you for this post!