Read Part One here.
Read Part Two here.
On January 26, 2015, I received another email from KAS. I recall this day vividly because I had spent most of the afternoon lost, trying to find the largest Ikea in the world, located just south of Seoul.
After getting on the wrong bus, retracing my steps back to the subway station, attempting to walk from the subway station to the Ikea (I was wrong, it was way too far and not pedestrian friendly), taking another bus the wrong direction and ending up back at the subway station I started from, I was finally on the correct bus and was confident I was going to definitely end up at Ikea this time. I was right- but on that last bus ride I got an alert from my phone that I had a new email. I briefly looked at the alert bar that I can pull down from the home screen of my phone, and I could see that the email I received was from KAS.
Recognizing that I was probably not in the right emotional state to read the email at that very moment, I consciously choose to table it until I was in a better place. I was on a mission to find Ikea and I was not feeling very confident after getting so lost. It’s amazing how much more difficult things are when you can’t read or communicate effectively.
I found the Ikea, bought the mattress I wanted, and made it back to Seoul without getting lost again. I met a friend for dinner and went home for the night.
Beef BBQ Korean Style
When I got home, I settled in, engaged in some mindful breathing, and opened the email.
“Dear Stacy, I have a good news for you.”
The best comparison I can make when opening this email is to the feeling I’ve had when opening acceptance letters to graduate school. In the moments leading up to actually reading the first words of the letter, I’m holding my breath and terrified that it’s going to be a rejection. In those letters, the first words seem to always send the message loud and clear, either accepted, or rejected. Except this time, it wasn’t about where I was going to grad school- it was about my reunion with my Korean mother. Perhaps this comparison doesn’t do justice for the gravity of this experience, but it’s the best I can do for now.
I felt an instant relief. It’s a good news. I can breathe!
The email went on to explain that my eomma contacted my Korean adoption agency, ESWS, after they sent the letter to her. KAS warned me though, they are cautious about whether or not the person responding to the letter is actually my mother because she remembers details of my adoption differently than what is stated in my file.
Circling back to my point about creating a trauma informed system of care for post adoption services, I was caught somewhat off guard to find out that KAS had ESWS send the contact letter to my eomma because in their words, “we thought this could be the best way to make her feel comfortable since she already have had an experience with adoption agency at the time of the adoption”.
Communicating with me about who was sending the letter could have possibly helped me to feel like I had some control, or at the very least some understanding of how this process works. I didn’t know ESWS was going to be involved and that KAS had reached out to them to send the letter. I was under the impression that I was working with KAS and was able to avoid having to deal with ESWS.
At this point, KAS encouraged me to give them permission to provide my contact information to ESWS so that the agency could take over my case from now on. I didn’t feel like I had the option to decline this because I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize my potential reunion with my eomma. So, I agreed.
Coming next: Part Four – Birth Family Search Process with ESWS