There was a time when I had no problem putting on a dirty wig and taking goofy pictures. And making a kissy face.
That year was 2000. I was in Busan. And this was the first time I spent "alone" time with my biological sisters. I volunteered in Korea for two weeks and then stayed behind a third week to hang out with my birth family.
It was a very awesome but very difficult time for me. In fact, I kind of forgot about it until I grabbed this picture for this post.
I met these young women (my sisters) two years before.
I was very nervous about the whole situation. It was my first unsupervised visit with them. I had no idea where I was and I was putting a lot of trust in people I didn't know. I also didn't speak Korean well. I had taken two semesters of it, but it wasn't good.
At our first dinner, I remember sitting on the floor of my Korean family's high rise apartment and watching them all laugh and chat. I sat there silently and wished I understood what they were talking about. Was it about their day? Did something funny happen at college? Where they talking about the same things I'd talk about with my parents in Missouri?
I was experiencing a lot of emotions that particular trip, and most of them were melancholy, sadness and loneliness, even though I had supposedly found what so many adoptees wanted. I was constantly reminded that I didn't belong. I couldn't communicate, and seeing them happy made me feel empty. Why did God rob me of a chance to be raised with my sisters?
Then, I'd feel guilty for thinking that way because my parents were so freaking fantastic back home. It was meant to be. But I was sad processing it. I think it was the first time I really, truly grieved for not knowing Korean culture, language, and all the other things Koreans probably took for granted.
The beautiful thing about life is that emotions come and go, but hopefully you learn something along the way. I've learned a lot about who I am and know it's okay to grieve or be happy about things, especially when they're beyond our control. I hope I've become more compassionate because of these up and down moments.
I know I've written a lot about adoption lately, but it's just on my mind. This time I'm having an "up" moment as my sister Hyun Jeong (red hat) makes her way to Madison this morning. And I may know what she's thinking when we're all making jokes and having mundane conversations around the dinner table. I just hope I can provide some comfort to her because I've been there.