Thursday, July 30, 2009

Three Sisters - Visual Memory

Our Sister Rings

KyungSook & Me

KyungOk & ME

KyungOk & Me

Statue of Mother & her Children
Taken in Pusan after we met KyungSook

Three Sisters - Part Three

Three Sisters: 1st Letter from 경숙 / After Translation
April 27, 2004

My proud of KyungMee,

I really thanks to God for our reunion of family. In spite of suffering from separation of other people, it’s really God’s blessing that we meet each other which even I couldn't’t expect in my dream.

KyungMee, I heard that KyungOk preyed & begged to God everyday for our reunion, so it seems that God response to her pray. It remind me old memory that we were young, I bought all to market for buying noodle soup and rice cake. Also I can remember When you were 4~5 years old, you went Christmas event at the church and when you come back you were holding bag of treats and you had big smile on you face.

Do you think that I were comfortable during the long time when we were separated each other?
I always missed our family even in my dream and I felt guilty by myself. I can’t express with any word how I feel happy for our meeting. What can I change with my pleasure which small and young KyungMee show up in front of me after grown up and with husband ? I can imagine that you had hard time for getting over loneliness and pain in foreign land. I really appreciate to your parents in US that raised you very well and make you have today’s life.

KyungMee, I know that you couldn't’t forget the long period which making you struggling for meet again our family but you did well. Also, we finally met all together, so let’s forget the dark and painful old memory and do our best in our life for better and bright future. We can’t share all our happiness at once, let’s enjoy our happiness and glory day by day.

When I let you go away when you were young and small, I were also very exhausted.
I’m afraid it make you feel that it’s not good excuse, but I was also very young and being exhausted at that time.

I tried that taking good care of my brothers and sisters by myself in any case, but I couldn't’t so you can blame me about that. I sometimes resented our parents because they left us in the world when we were so young. I felt guilty about that I couldn't’t be a good shelter to my younger brothers and sisters as like big mountain.

KyungMee, As we meet all together, let’s love and take care each other. I hope that you be a mature, wise wife who can make husband succeed. Even both of you have a job, I hope you make more effort and good support for your husband. Always be patient, and everything must be return to your husband as a love.

As you know, we couldn't’t share love between parents and sister, brothers compare with other people. So I hope we share our loves with your husband and our siblings from now on.
KyungMee, we really appreciate to your husband’s family and your family in U.S and blessing for all of them.

You have a great job. Even you forget about your difficult and painful life, you taking care of more poor and weak neighbors, it seems really wonderful. KyungJin is working for construction company and KyungSun is working at ship. He just went out to ocean, so it’s going to be take 2 years for come back. KyungOk is working at home what making some part of cloth which get stuff from clothing company. I have run small shop, but I just closed because of my health condition.

I really feel sorry about that we separate again without enjoy our joyful meeting.
Also I couldn't’t talk to you what I want to talk with you because of my lack of ability.
KyungMee, even your job making you busy, I hope you study Korean as much as you can.
Also the gifts which you sent us, it was really good enough and they look really wonder and great who is in then picture which you sent us. Your mother looks so beautiful, elegance and lovely person in the picture which up loaded on Internet.

KyungMee, your family seems like gorgeous and lovely . I really blessing that you are a member of great family. I will pray for you and your family for blessing.

KyungMee, the name of my sister which I want to call lots of time a day.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Three Sisters - Part Two

Three Sisters: 1st letter from 경옥
April 2004 / After Translation

To my lovely KyungMi,

KyungMi, the time which we spend together already to be a remembrance.
I reflect on my old memory as like your story. It seems like that we lived together for the short time after mom and dad past away.

One day, someone told me that if I live in rich peoples’ house and then there are lots of delicious food and good stuff over there. After a few days later say that, KyungSuk , you and me , we went one rich people’s house. And then KyungSuk and you left me over there and going to leave without me. So I cried a lot and asked bring me together. At that time , three of us cried all together a lot. Then you gave me one plastic ring and said that “you must keep this ring well, and then we will meet again and let’s don’t forget each other.” It was last seen of you and me.

After that, I gown up in my foster parents house. I always feel gloomy and lonely, but I had lived with one hope that all our sisters and brothers going to be together on someday.
So I did not have any anger or mad as like you. Maybe I was little mature than you .
Only one thing I regret that our parents has passed away so early. I thought that KyungSuk have bad illness so she died. So I understand them , because even I was a old sister or old brother , I don’t have any way to keep us to be together.

The reason why I decided go to KBS broadcast that I want to looking for you than others.
So my dream was come true and you grown up well , so I thank you so much.
Also I really appreciate to your foster parents in USA.
If I have a chance , I want to say that how I thank you to them.

After I met KyungSuk, I knew that she still alive and you adopted to America.
She thought that it is better let you adopted to good family who have more good condition to raise you well and she just keep in her mind that one day she will find you .

We never gave you up, it was just apart from each other for the short time since we were too poor. Especially, KyungSuk did not abandon you. She said that when she sent you adoption agency, you two cried a lot and she talk to you that just go take air plane and then come back soon and meet again (for make you comfort).

In my thought, I’m so proud that you have made it in a foreign land.
This is also not too late, so please keep in touch often, if possible let’s meet so that we can share our lost affection.

Our living level in here is ****, we are healthy and do our best for your nephews.
Your brother in law *** he working at small factory. KyungSuk’s husband is fish man (not owner of ship) , and second brother is working at construction part and old brother is working at an ocean-going ship so he is far away . But he knew that we met all together.
He also really expect meet you soon.

**************Also you parents looks like so nice and kind so I feel easy .
I can read from your face that you raised with love. Thanks you for that.
I feel the lack but going to stop here.

Kyung Mi, I love you....
I will write letter often and bye until we meet again.

From KyungOk

Three Sisters - Part One in Translation

1st Letter to 경옥 excerpt of original.


언니 잘 지내고 있죠?
언니들 너무 많이 사랑하고 보고싶어요
그리고 지난번에 언니가 보내준 메일은 잘받았어요
제시카(남화성 : 통역해준) 가 언니편지를 번역해줘서 잘 보았어요
아마 한달전에 우리가 이렇게 편지를 주고 받을수 있을거라고 누가와서 얘기했다면 믿지 않았을거예요
우리가 서로만날 때가 되었었나봐요
우리가 큰언니를 만났을때, 언니가 아마 엄마 아빠가우리를 만날 수 있도록 도운거라고 했는데 정말 그런거 같아요
두달 만에 모두가 이렇게 만나건 정말 놀라운 일이예요

지난번 언니 집에서 다같이 모였을때 졸과저는 얘기한 모든 걸 이해할수는 없었지만 그 시간이우리에게는 얼마나 소중했는지 몰라요
그리고 언니가 우리에게 해줬던 모든것에 너무 고마뭐요
한 가족으로 같이 느끼며 울고 웃었던 그 시간들이 너무 행복했어요
처음 예전 살던 집에 도착했을때 서로 손잡고 어렸을때처럼 뛰어다녔던 그시간들을 영원히 잊지 못할거예요

오빠들에게도 제가 오빠들을 항상 생각하며 그리워하고 있다고 전해주세요
그리고 오빠들이 바느질 공장에서 일한것과 일이 끝나고 우리 함께 지냈던것도 다 생각이 나요
제가 잠자리를 잡는동안 오빠들이 바위에 앉아서 담배를 피던일, 언니 오빠들과 손잡고 시장을 걸어다녔던일, 그러다가 거기서 국수도 사먹고 인형극도 구경했던 일들이 제게는 너무 행복한 추억이예요
또 큰언니를 도와서 빨래를 하고 만두국 만드는걸 도왔던 것도 생각이 나네요
내가 얼마나 가루약과 가루우유를 삼키기 싫어했는지 기억해요
또 큰언니가 저녁시간때까지 우리가 돌아오지 않으면 화를냈었던것도 기억나요
언니, 내가 한국말을 더많이 배워서 잘하게되면 우리 가족들에 대해서 기억하고 있는 모든거 다 언니와 얘기하고 싶어요

큰언니에게도 제가 아주 많이 사랑한다고 전해주세요
큰언니가 절 입양기관에 데려다 주었을때, 언니를 다시 만나지 못한다는걸 그때는 몰랐어요
입양기관에서 입양되기 전까지 위탁모 집에 갔었는데 거기서 그분들이 절
잘보살펴 주셨어요
제가 거기 머무르는 동안 다른 아이들도 그곳에 있었는데 그 아이들은 저보다 먼저 입양되었던거 같아요 그이후에 새로운 아이들이 오고 또 입양되어 나가고 했었거든요
제 기억이 희미해서 맞는지 모르겠네요
한번은 거기서 수박을 먹었었는데 위탁모가 수박씨를 다 치우고 나서 제가 그 씨를 화단에 심도록 도와주시면서 그 수박이 커서 자라면 제가 생각날거라고 하신게 생각이나네요
그리고 위탁아버지가 일하실때 음료수를 가져다 드리고 위탁어머니가 요리하실때 야채 씻는걸 도와드리고 옆집 꼬마 남자애들과 근처에 있는 절 계단에 앉아서 스님들이 기도하는걸 구경했던 기억이나요

제가 미국으로 입양될때 위탁모가 절 시장으로 데려가 머리핀을 사주셨어요
그리고 미국으로 가는날 절 공항에 데려다 주실때 다른 어린 애들을 제가 안고 걸어가면서 울었던것 같아요 또 떠나게 된다는걸 알았었거든요
그때 위탁모가 저에게 울지 말라고 하시면서 다른 어린애들을 위해서 큰 언니가 되어야 한다고 하셨어요
그래서 울지 않으려고 했는데 멈출수가 없었어요
뭔가 아주 큰 일이 기다리고 있다는걸 알았고 전 그게 너무 무서웠어요
아주 멀리 가게 된다는걸 알고 있었지만 지구 반대편으로 가서 살게 될거라고는 몰랐거든요
또 돌봐주신 그 위탁부, 위탁모가 너무 좋아서 또다시 그분들과 헤어지게 되는게 너무 싫었어요
그날이 제가 잊을 수 없는 두번째로 중요한 날이었어요

자라면서 큰언니가 절 입양기관에 데려다 주었을때 제가 울었었는지 기억이 나질않아요 만약 제가 많이 울었으면 언니를 너무나 그리워한다고 생각했을텐데 혹시 제가 울지않아서 내가 언니를 원망하거나 언니에게 화가 났다고 큰언니가 생각할까봐 죄책감이 많이 들었어요
사실 처음에 입양되었을 때에는 언니가 절 입양보낸거에 대해서 화가 났었어요 오빠들이 저랑 같이 있기를 원하고 또 오빠들이 절 보살펴 줄 수
있을거라고 생각했거든요
언니가 입양기관에 저를 데려다 준 날은 제가 결코 잊지 못할 가장 중요한 날이었어요 그날은 제가 어렸을때를 항상 생각하게 하는 날이예요
제가 언니 오빠들과 왜 같이 지낼 수 없었는지 항상 궁금하고 의아했어요
저를 입양하신 부모님들은 우리집이 너무 가난해서 우리 모두를 다 돌볼수가 없어서 그랬거나 아니면 제가 좀더 나은 삶을 살기를 원해서 그랬을 거라고 하셨지만 저는 제가 뭘 잘못해서 절 멀리 보낸게 아닌가 궁금했어요
자라면서 언니를 원망하지는 않았지만 언니가 제가 얼마나 언니를 생각하고 우리가 함께 하게되기를 바라는지 알아주기를 바랬어요
저는 큰언니가 제가 언니를 엄마처럼 생각했었다는걸 알았으면 좋겠어요
저는 우리 지난 가족들 얘기를 더 알고싶고 언니가 제가 알지못하는 우리가족의 지난 얘기를 다 알수있도록 도와줬으면 좋겠어요
이제 저도 어른이 되었고 큰언니가 얼마나 많은 힘든 결정을 내려야했는지
이해할수 있고 언니는 정말 강하고 대단한 사람인것 같아요********************


Monday, July 27, 2009

Three Sisters - Part One

I thought it would be appropriate to post the letters in their original form with all their misspellings, run-ons, and initial translations.

Three Sisters : 1st Letter to Sister 경옥

April 22, 2004


Hello! I love you and miss you very much. I want to let you know that we received your e-mail last week. Jessica, the girl you talked to on the phone last week, helped us to read your letter/ e-mail. I would not have believed it if someone would have come to me and told me a month ago we would be talking and writing letters to one another now. It must have been time for us to find each other. When we found eldest sister, 경숙, she said that mom & dad must have led us to each other. I believe this is true. To find each other only within two months apart is amazing and incredible.

When we were together at your house, my husband and I could not understand everything said but I hope you know how much the time we spent together meant to us. I hope you know how much I appreciate all that you did for us. And how wonderful it felt to laugh and cry together as a family. When we first arrived at your house and we ran up your street hand in hand I imagined how we would run together as children! I wanted that moment to last forever.

Please let our brothers know that they were always on my mind and I always missed them. Please tell them that I remember how they worked in the sewing factory and how after work we would be together. Please tell them I remember chasing butterflies in the flowering fields while they looked after me. I remember how they would sit there on the rocks and smoke cigarettes while grabbing dragonflies. I also remember walking around in the markets with you and both brothers. I remember these memories as happy times. We would walk around, stop to eat noodle dishes and watch puppet shows. I remember cleaning clothes with elder sister and preparing dumplings for soup. I remember how I hated to swallow powder medicine and powder milk. I remember how mad oldest sister would get if we did not get home in time for dinner. Kyung Ok, I remember always waiting for you and being so attached to you. Once, I learn more Korean I would like to personally share with you all my memories of our family.

Please tell Kyung Sook that I love her very much! When she dropped me off at the adoption agency, I did not realize that I would never see her again. From the agency, I went to live with my foster parents. I have always remembered them fondly. When I lived with them, I remember being well cared for in their home. During that time, they were taking care of other children as well. I believe they were adopted much sooner than I because new children seemed to come and go. I could be wrong since some of my memories are blurred.

One time, after we had finished eating a watermelon, my foster mother cleaned the seeds and helped me to plant them in her garden. She told me that when they grow in her garden she would think of me. I also remember fetching drinks for my foster father when he was working and helping the women clean the vegetables for cooking. I remember playing make believe with the neighborhood boys and sitting on the steps of the temple to watch the monks pray.

When I had to go to America, my foster mother took me to the market and bought me a barrette to remember her by. The day my foster mother had to drop us off at the airport, I remember walking and carrying other little ones in my arms and crying because I knew I was leaving again. She told me not to cry and for me to be a big girl for the little ones. I tried to be strong but I could not stop crying. I was so afraid and I knew something big was happening. I understood I was going far away but did not realize I would be living halfway across the world. I loved her and my foster father and did not want to be separated once again. That was the second most important day I would never forget.

Growing up, I never remembered if I cried when 경숙dropped me off at the adoption agency. I always felt guilty that maybe she did not know how much I would miss her. I thought if she saw me cry she would know that I cared about her very much. I did not want her to think I was mad at her or resented her. It is true though, at first, when I was adopted I did resent her for letting me go because I thought my brothers wanted me and could care for me. The day 경숙 dropped me off at the adoption agency would be the most important day I would never forget.

It is the day I kept going back to in my mind when I was a child. I kept questioning why and wondering if I was not good enough to stay with them. My adopted parents told me that we were poor and she could not take care of us all or that she wanted a better life for us but in my heart I wondered if it was something I did to be sent away. As I got older I did not resent but only hoped she knew how much I cared for her and wished for us to be together. I would like her to know that I remember her as if she was my mother.

I hope I will learn about our family history and that she will help me to understand and piece together our past. Please tell her that now that I am an adult I realize how many difficult decisions she had to make and that I feel she is a very strong and beautiful person.

Please tell 경숙 that many times after I was adopted I would pack my bags and wait for her to pick me up. When she never came I began to understand that I was far away and that this was now my new home. But I continued to look for her whenever we would go out. I would look for her in the shopping malls, restaurants and on the streets. When I was first adopted, there were not many Asians Koreans around our neighborhood so whenever I saw an Asian person I would get very excited and hoped I had found her. I tried to get close to them to see if they had her scars on their arm and neck. I told people that if I find someone who had these scars I would know that I had found my sister. I would also know that I had found her if they knew of my scar. Some people here found this humorous but when I was young I took this very seriously.

For the first year I was adopted, I did not speak any English. It was hard to blend in with my new surroundings. There were many conflicts at home and we needed time to adjust. With time, things got better and I was happy in my new home and with my new family. I never forgot about our family and each time I would look in the mirror or look at family photos I would remember that I have two families. I always hoped that one day I would be able to find you.

It is difficult to describe the pain and the guilt I felt over the years and all the questions I had and have. I feel that a lot of my past destructive behaviors were because of my sense of displacement. Over the years, I have always taken interest in life stories of displaced individuals because I too was a displaced individual without a true home. I mean I have my family here and my home here too but had lost my roots my blood. When I was a teenager, I would write many poems and stories about our father and my memories of our childhood. This outlet helped me to understand and express my feelings and questions I had about my past. Maybe, one day I can share this with you and our family.

In your letter, you said that you were always left behind but I remember also being left behind. I remember telling someone to always remember me and we would meet again. I thought it was a baby but after reading your letter I now know that this person was you! I hope one day with the help of everyone our memories will be complete again. Since I was adopted, I tried to keep my memories vivid but with time they became faded and blurred together. I could see images but could not see the faces. I always felt guilty that I could not hold onto your faces. I wondered all these years what you looked like and how you lived. I imaged you were adopted by a rich Korean family who took good care of you. I hoped that one day you would learn English and look for me.

*********It means a lot that you and our older sister and brothers did not give up on us. It is nice to know that our love for each other survived all our hardship and separation. I will always wear our sister ring to remember our past, present and future together.

**********경옥, please tell everyone once again that I am very happy and grateful we have found one another. I fear that we will lose touch or some how lose each other again. I do not want to lose you all again and hope that this will be wonderful beginning in our lives. Please write often and tell the others to write and tell me how they are. Please share this letter with everyone. Please tell them I love them very much. Tell them I have never forgotten about them and that they have always been a big part of my heart and my thoughts. I love you. I hope to hear from you soon.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Papa-Visual Memory Continue

The image below was taken from a Korean Museum of History. It is of a Traditional way to cook your food. The heat from the coal would also heat your floors. It sat apart from your home-living quarters. Most modern homes going back into the '70s and maybe further did not need or even have this attached to your homes unless you lived in the countrysides or up on mountainous areas. I believe when I lived with my foster family or sometime elsewhere, I had resided at homes that had used big cylinder coal to cook in an outside room detached from the main room. I remember helping to cook dumpling soup in big traditional Korean pots that had a large rim that went around the top part of the pots. These pots would fit down into these pits, sitting on top of the coal. Funny, after I had lived in the States for some time, I would talk of these experiences with other young Koreans that had come to the States with their parents. They tell me that they could not relate. They never experienced this as well as some other memories I have had and would tell me that I had at times lived like their Grandparents or Parents.

Taken from same Museum. Traditional way the women would work together to prepare the vegetables. Most likely preparing Kimchi.

We took this picture in a small village in Jeju Island. Traditional Pots for storing Kimchee.
I remember helping the 'women' prepare Kimchee in their gardens. I believe it was with my Foster Mother.

We spent a day exploring the Korean Subway Systems. We rode the subway train with no particular destination. We stopped at one town where we ran into some kind of festival and street displays lined up with all my childhood favorite candies and other sweets.

Papa - Visual Memory

One of many Fish Markets. Streets lined with seafood and other goods. They sat up little areas for you to sit and eat the freshest Seafood you can imagine.

Some of Korea's soda pops selections. They have vending machines everywhere you go that are full of pop, noodle soups, and mini-coffee to go.

Steamed snails.
Like a dream, everywhere we visited, food, places, and all my senses came to a full circle.
Awakening my memories and visions of my childhood. I was giddy and very animated like a little child once again. I would laugh, cry, and laugh with joy. My husband was in amazement with how he was able to see all my stories come to life.

Dukbokki Man
Long rice cakes in spicy sauce.
One of my favorites as a child and now.


In Korea, if a person was older than you, they become your 'sister' 'brother' 'aunt' or 'uncle'. I had also referred to my Foster parents as Mother and Father. With this said, I am sharing two memories. Two very different times in my life but yet what age is unclear. To go through your life unable to place your memories is like puzzle pieces that appear to have the same shade of color but do not come together to complete a picture.

Story One:

I sat on the cool vinyl floor with my legs tucked beneath me. I could hardly keep my eyes open as I tried to focus on the television screen. I tried to tune into the game show host introducing his newest contestant but the voices from the room behind me became louder until I heard my sister crying out to my Father. I peaked pass my shoulder with slight interest but not enough to keep me away from my favorite show. I felt a tap on my shoulder but did not answer. "KyungMee."KyungMee." My Father then brushed his hand over my head speaking a little louder, "KyungMee!" I turned and smiled at him. "We need to go into town. Get up and come with me!" He looked down at me, as he spoke, waiting for me to respond. I could not understand why I was always chosen to go do the errands. I dragged myself up from the floor, headed for the entrance, and quickly put my shoes on. I was ready for our little adventure.

It seemed like a perfect day. I was happy to walk down these narrow stone pathways holding onto my Father's hand. I felt awake and full from his love that smiled down to me. As we walked down and around these paths, I sang to the sun, to the dogs, and to my Father. He found me to be very silly, but encouraged me to sing to him. I laughed and hugged his leg with my arms.
I released my embrace then ran ahead dancing and skipping to the music in my head.

We soon came to the Market where everyone gathered to see the display of fish, salts, and grains. There were rows and rows that stretched down on long tables. There were tables and sectionals that divided the displays and people who sat there eating their Lamein soups and fish. My Father grabbed my hand again to rush through the crowd. We quickly slipped between the tables and aisles until we entered a clearing. I turned my head looking back to the crowd. I glared at the men eating their Lamein. I looked up and then ran ahead to forget my hunger.

My Father had already collected many bags that he held in his hands. We were about to turn around to head for home when we came across another cart full of steamed snails, roasted corn, and juices. My eyes must have spoke out loud, for my Father stopped and and reached over to the cart to hand me a cone full of snails and a roasted corn. I happily skipped along with my Father, smiling with delight, as I pulled another kernel from the my roasted corn.

Story Two:

Hearing my name in the distance, I got up and dropped the vegetables down onto the bamboo mats. I rushed pass the house gates and up the little hill that sat behind our garden. As I ran up the pathway, their faces became clearer. The men stood before me, sweating, and dressed in grey covered overalls. I looked pass them into the dry fields. I could see nothing but dry dusty dirt. The dogs ran up and down the field chasing the dust that swirled around their bodies. I stood there sweating and waiting for them to say something.

My Father placed his hand on my shoulder and smiled. " KyungMee." Please, go and fetch us some pop." I was happy to be at his service. I turned around and ran back as quickly as I could to our house. Holding the soda pops in my hands, I rushed back up to greet them with the cool bottles. They grabbed the bottles and twisted the caps and began to drink all in unison. I stood there smiling as I continued to stare up at them. They had finished everything. Just empty bottles. "KyungMee, take them now and hurry along!" I looked up at my Father as he spoke to me. I squinted my eyes to not look past him. I stood there kicking the dirt, looking up at him then away. My eyes continued to wander off his face, in search for our dogs. "Rush along." He repeated. I did not want to go back to the garden. I wanted to stay longer with my Father. Seeing that I was not moving, he told me to go tell my Sisters to give me a soda pop. I became so excited I forgot immediately how I wanted to stay and ran down the hill, smiling, calling out, "Awn ni! Awn ni!" " Sister!" "Sister!".

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Two Fathers - Part One


How funny. I feel more vulnerable posting my poetry onto this blog than the stories or the photos that I have already shared with everyone. The two poems from the Previous Post were written when I was about fifteen or sixteen years old. The earlier Post, Childhood Playgrounds (Home with Foster Parents), also, brings my memories back to my 'Fathers'.

Part One:

Do You see? I wanted and needed to Believe. Growing up, I would take myself away to my fondest memories of my Father. I ran to them. They sheltered me from all the pain and confusion that had surfaced during my adolescent years. At times, I tried to believe, there were memories hidden cleverly away in my mind. Memories of Him. Memories that only held the pain and brought forth only questions. In all my attempts to bring forth any images hidden, none had ever surfaced. As the years past, I felt close to them. My memories of my Father awaited for my return knowing very well when I would need to head Home.

It was the night of our Wedding and we had just arrived to our hotel room. Moments before, my Parents placed my Adoption Records in my hands and wished us luck in our search to find my Siblings in Korea. I reassured them that we were not going there with the intent to rediscover them. I told myself, that it would be impossible to locate them knowing only their names. I reassured myself that it would be an impossible search. Besides, this was our Honeymoon. I was happy with the thought of going there to step down onto 'My Motherland'.

The hours could not past fast enough. We could not sleep nor wait for our trip to begin. Restless, my husband picked up my Records and read as he sat in the hotel arm chair under a dim light. I wanted to read over it as well but felt very anxious and had too many thoughts running through my head. He sat there trying to pronounce my Mother's name. "Kim, Chan Im." I heard it again. I realized that I never knew or had forgotten her name. "What does it say...what is my Father's name in the Record?" I walked over to the chair and leaned over the forms. There I saw it. His name was, Yoo, Bok Man. "Aah...I always Knew that." I repeated his name to hear it again. "Why didn't I remember Her name? " I asked. If I knew it when I was young, why didn't I try to remember it all these years. Why didn't I care? I did not want to go through my "101" questions & answers to self discovery that night. I smiled at my husband and recalled my favorite stories of my Father.

We sat there very happy and giddy as we continued to read more from the Records. And there it was...the Bio-Mother and Bio-Father records. Their life summed up into a little paragraph. I read it over and over with tears that did not know how to stop. We read on until we came across my Personal Data. They had summed up my Childhood into AB &C. Three little paragraphs that explained a thousand memories and and brought forth an unwanted image. It was here in these words,'Her Foster Father'.

I knew I lived with a Foster Family along with an endless line of other children. It wasn't until this moment that I suddenly felt that familiar vagueness. My Father. I closed my eyes to see his image but it is blurred. I closed my eyes and saw myself walking along side of him feeling warm, safe and happy. But, this time when I looked up at him, I saw only more confusion and more questions. Who are you in my Dreams? Is it possible that ALL these years I had wanted to believed these visions were of YOU. Was it possible that You were a collection of the few fond memories that served only to protect me from All that had haunted me.

A few words on a page brought hope and uncertainty. It broke down my Walls and told me to Enter. To go forth with no expectations only to Dream. My Two Fathers. They will guide us there. They will bring us back to My HOME.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Dear Daddy
Oh yes, I do remember you well
My friend
Your broken heart
Your tightest grip
Within the hands of mine
I look and see, the kindest of eyes
I search to find, someone like you
When there is only you
Within my heart and soul


This Dream

I offer you my pain

As I continue this dream.

Pages turn and pages reflect.

Were you so beautiful?

My memories may have tricked me.

I sometimes ask you in my sleep,

How I should be.

I continue to run in this dream I have created.

And when the Rain falls around me,

I open my mouth to taste it.

Oh Papa, it is all blood to me.

Passage Three - Visual Memory

Above, a photo taken before I left my Foster Mother from Adoption Agency. When we were there at the agency in 2004, the social worker allowed me to take this picture that had remained in my file since 1979. I remember posing for this photo. The photographer told me not to smile but to look sad. I was always smiling much like now..they did not want my new family to think I was happy there without them...I am guessing on that.
My Siblings showering us with many Gifts. Me trying on traditional clothes.

After our reunion show on Achim Madong -KBS, we all went to my Sister KyungOk's house. We ate, drank, ate, drank, and simply cherished the little time we had left together. Although, we had not seen each other since 1979, I felt an overwhelming sense of home. I felt myself becoming, 'KyungMee' again. I was their baby sister and all that they wanted to do was feed me, love me, and hope that my husband protects me from harm when we return to America.

Namdaemun Market

The same Market from my Childhood. Many of my memories take place in this Market. I was never sure if my memories of this market place was dreamt up from my imagination or if it really existed. I felt we were walking back through time. My senses all telling me that I was never that lost...just waiting.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Childhood Playgrounds - Passage Three

Passage Three : (Home With Foster Parents)

Light peered in through the small cracks of the wooden gates that stood before the yard. The pale cement wall wrapped itself around the yard as if to protect the children who lived there. An old wooden outhouse stood by the corner of the yard full and waiting for the men to come with their buckets. Along the cement walls, golden flowers danced about catching the little breeze that would sneak in and out of this yard.

I pulled myself up to peek over the wall and above the slanted red roof tops. I could see other gardens and walls stretched around house after house. The same beautiful flowers grew up and down the pathways following the walls that encircled us. I climbed back down and continued to play with the other children. We laughed and tickled one another as we rolled around the bumpy ground.

I was wrapped up in my own fun when I was surprised by a tap on my shoulder. Trying to find my way out of the tangled bunch, I escaped to see my Foster Mother smiling down at me. Her warm smile took me away to the distant memories of my Father. As I was wrapped up with my thoughts of my Father, I heard a voice calling my name. "KyungMee." "KyungMee."

My Foster Mother pulled me to my feet and dusted the dirt off my clothes as she spoke to me.
"KyungMee, do you want to go buy groceries with me?' I gathered myself together, smiled and nodded to answer her. I ran quickly over to the house, took off my shoes to enter, and grabbed the wicker basket that was sitting against the tall, rectangular, rice container. I slid the paper doors shut and walked over to my Foster Mother to begin our journey into town.

The Market place was filled with people, clothes, food and many shiny pretty objects. The noise cluttered the narrow streets as much as the merchandise had taken over every side street, corner, and block. I held onto her hand tightly as we passed plates of Mandu dumplings and rows of metal containers filled with Dukbulgi, rice cakes and rows of various vegetables. As my eyes randomly scanned the goods, I noticed a little pink plastic flower barrette. My Foster Mother stopped and leaned down to see what had caused me to stop walking. She noticed the pink barrette sitting on the white sheet. She pulled out her purse and paid the lady the money and clipped the barrette into my hair. Feeling the barrette in my hair I smiled. I couldn't remember ever getting a gift before I had met her. As we continued shopping, I looked up shyly and thanked her.

By the time we arrived at the house, my Foster Mother began to cook. The other children and I ran over to help her. Standing there together, cooking with her, I felt good. I felt pleased to be with my new family. Smiling down at us, our Foster Mother handed us each a piece of watermelon. We were all very excited as we sat and ate our watermelon. While I sat there watching her lean over the big round coal, trying to light it, I counted the the little black watermelon seeds. I reached my hand over to her trying to signal her attention. My Foster Mother looked down at me. I held out the seeds in front of her and told her that they were a gift. I told her my wish was for her to plant the seeds in her garden and water them everyday. And everyday, as she watch them grow, to remember me. To remember me when I leave to go live in America.

Passage Two - Visual Memory

Passage 2

I thought it would be interesting to see the pictures of my Eldest Sister and I Reuniting in 2004. I have few treasured memories of my Sister holding and hugging me as a Child. But here, I feel as if I am holding her and hugging her in my arms, giving her the love, reassurance and acceptance, she has longed for all these years.

Sun slipping into Dusk - Seoul, Korea

Picture taken during our search for my home address from 1979. Picture taken moments before discovering 'the possible Apartment location'.

Childhood Playgrounds - Passage Two

Passage Two:

Sounds of laughter and loud young voices bounced off the tall red brick buildings as the children scrambled about to get on and off the jungle gym. Noises from every direction rose to fill the enclosed sky. The narrow streets were heavy with traffic rushing to get home. Silently,the buildings began to lower their shadows down upon the children as if to slowly point them towards the streets that led them home. The laughter echoed into the distance as the sun slipped away quietly.

I knew that the time had come but I was in no rush to go. Then, I heard a familiar voice in the distance. The voice was faint but grew to become a recognizable familiar tone. I felt my heart race when I heard her voice but I was not moving. I did not want to leave my playground. Her voice was calling me, "KyungMee!" "KyungMee!" I took a deep breath and ran towards my name. I knew dinner was waiting and again I had failed to go back early to help with chores. The realization of this came clear as I got closer and could hear the anger in her voice. I quickly ran up our street as fast as I was able to run. I could see our apartment building at the top of the street. I felt the thumping of my heart as I reached the top of our street. Before I could stop, I felt my knees hit the black top scraping them into it's gravel.

Tears ran down my face and I had forgotten where I was. I sat there shaking my head and crying with my hands over my face. "Aum Ma!""Aum Ma!" I cried out again, "Mommy!" "Mommy!" A gentle voice rushed over to me picking me up in her arms. She swept me up and wrapped her arms around me as she spoke softly back to me. "I am here." "I am here." "Shhh...I am here." I continued to cry out but found myself holding onto her tightly so she could not slip away. She embraced me in and gave me a kiss above my head. "KyungMee. It's okay. Mommy is here." I opened my eyes and saw my Eldest Sister looking back at me with tears.

*** I think I was fourteen when I originally wrote this piece but it was much shorter. It is a piece that fits into a larger script that I had worked on. So, for this one, I extended it for this Blog. Again, it is one of those memories I hold very close to my heart and for that I always forgave and loved my Sister Unconditionally. Hmmm...I just remembered. When we found each other again on our Honeymoon, she told me that she was especially close to me because I was the youngest living and had me in her responsibility since I was an infant. Although, my Mother did not pass away until I was maybe 4 years old, my Sister had to care for me so my Mother could work. She told me that she always thought herself as if she was my Mother. And perhaps, that is why it has hurt me so much.

Passage One - Visual Memory

The picture of the Flowers were taken days prior to our Fateful trip to the Adoption Agency. These flowers are everywhere in Korea. Many of my memories are covered with these Flowers.

The First picture above was taken after we went to visit the Adoption Agency. The Social Worker had given us a general address to my old residence from 1979. We drove all around town until I spotted this street. It brought me back to the Apartments I had lived in prior to being dropped off at the Adoption agency. I don't know if this was the very spot but my senses were awakened and memories overwhelmed me. Louie, our Tour Guide, quickly stopped the car and we got out to search for something familiar. My husband held my hand and quietly reassured me to believe in my thoughts. He paced himself to walk along side of me and gave me a kiss. He believed in me. He believed in my memories. He wanted me to open the doors of my memories and to believe in my instincts. Looking up the street, to the hills that stood beyond the now new apartments, my memories of my friend Muri rushed over me. The fields of Sun Kissed Flowers surrounded my vision.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Childhood Playgrounds - Passage One

Passage One:

The heavy rusted door to the single room apartment shut behind us with an unforgiving silence. Our eyes looked forward towards the hills that sat before us, waiting for our return. Holding hands, we ran up as fast as we could to greet the sun kissed flowers that guarded these hills.

We engaged freely in laughter, and fun, as we chased the butterflies that fluttered about, in the blooming meadow. The tall swaying grass guided us in a confused direction, as we zig-zagged our way in hidden amazement. Exhausted from grasping for butterflies under the open sky, we collapsed to the earth, to lie on our backs.

We closed our eyes, and day dreamed, while the sun warmed our faces. Interrupting the silence, Muri rolled over to her side to hold out in her hand long strands of leafy stems. Gently, she weaved the leafy stems into my long braided hair. She looked up and smiled as she gathered some wild flowers between her fingers. Her smile told me she was ready to hear more about the beautiful and dark world of the Fairies.

As I described to her, the cold dark world the Fairies had to endure, she sat up, and joined in telling the fantasy. As we continued to add to our story, the once brightly lit sky, hung above us, casting our shadows, in the event of changing to dusk. Muri reached out her hand and pulled me up to sit beside her. As my eyes explored the tops of the swaying yellow grass, I spotted a dragonfly sitting on the tip of a leaf. I reached out my arms and enclosed it in my hands. Before it could fly away, I quickly held it by it's wings and then set it free. We looked up to see the dragonfly zip up and down into sky.

Time had slipped away, and we knew we soon had to part. Muri glanced over to me, smiled and said, "KyungMee!' I did not need to respond, for both of us reached into our pockets and pulled out a thin comb and paper. We folded the paper in half and slid the comb in between the paper. We cleared our throats, and began to blow though the paper. Whistling sounds came forth, as we slid the comb back and forth. Before another evening had closed, Muri and I had made beautiful music together.

**** This piece I wrote when I was 18 years old. I find myself reading over these pieces and questioning if I would be true to the events of my past if I would write them in their original form. Meaning content. Some memories stay with you holding the images and their emotions protected. Like this memory of child play and innocence. As time goes by, memories can trick you and haunt you, they tell you how they should live inside you. It grows and turns attaching itself to the different stages of your emotions and thoughts. But, some memories, stay protected and stay close to you always.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Opening Doors

Sol Flower_ 'Kiss the Kids'

Fate. Perhaps, my life knew all roads would lead me back to my Home. Maybe in some way, it whispered to me from time to time of how it all would fall into place. Dropping little gifts along the way to signal an awakening in my heart. A distant Dream to Reality.

Only days before our fateful trip to the Agency, we decided to spend the day exploring Seoul. We must have passed so many music stores until we came upon One somewhere in the underground subway system of Seoul. It was thrilling to walk through the aisles listening and sampling music side by side with other Koreans. We were not there very long before the words spoke out to me.."Kiss the Kids". I stopped and reached my hand out to hold it. 'Sol Flower'. 'Kiss the Kids'. My heart felt full. I needed to hear it. I quickly called out for my husband to come look at what I had found. I felt all my senses coming to a full circle filling me up and bringing me back to my old playground. My field of dreams and sun kissed flowers that had protected me not just in my childhood but throughout my years. My husband placed the head phones upon my head and the song began... I did not need to understand the words. I knew it was speaking to me. The song was speaking to that Child in all of us who were once lost and now would be found.


Adoption Agency 2004 and Photo taken in 1979

adoption agency in 2004
A picture that was taken only days before Mrs. Lee and KyungSook took me to the adoption agency in 1979. This picture was given to me by Mrs. Lee prior to our ride to find KyungSook.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Birth File

Adoptee Rights Promo - v2

**** For many people who were adopted are not allowed access to their birth records or birth files. They are denied access to their own Identity. A written statement that holds your past, your traits, heritage, and future denied for you to claim. Imagine.

Birth File:

Discovering my family was a miracle. It all started with a phone number that Louie, our Tour Guide, had jotted down when we went to visit the adoption agency that my sister had turned to for overseas adoption. From that number came a chain of events and a three day journey to rediscovering my past and rebuilding my memories.

It was our last day with Louie and we had no set plans. We had travelled and seen so much of Korea in the short time we were there. I told myself, the last thing I wanted to do was to turn our honeymoon into a wild goose chase searching out my family. So, we decided to retrace some of the places I remembered from my childhood including where the adoption agency once stood. Some time back, I had phoned the agency in my attempts to search out my family. After some failed attempts to communicate I was connected to a person who spoke English. It was on that night, I was told the agency had turned into a Daycare Facility.

I was wrong. My memories flooded back to me. Little had changed to the place. We took a deep breath and entered into the building not sure what would happen or what we would discover. It wasn't what was inside the place but the place itself had not changed. I could see images of my sister sitting in the waiting room and the over sized bin filled with toys that were offered to me the day I last saw her. Like a house from your childhood or an old familiar street, I found myself leading the way down a narrow hall. And there, we were greeted by a rush of social workers who listened to our story and led us to a little room. Our journey had begun.

I was full of hope and uncertainty. The social worker was very polite but questioned why we did not search the agency out much sooner. I explained how I received information stating that the agency had turned into a daycare center. I followed by expressing how happy we were to have found them. She noted that there were information in my File of a call received a few years back but had no way of reaching this person since they did not have a contact number. She further explained the sensitivity of this situation and how sometimes people do not want to be found. I found myself watching her as she spoke but I could not focus. I was much too anxious and excited to hear what she was trying to convey in our meeting. I wanted to hear those words,"It's all here in your file. Your Sister has been contacting our office to see if you have reached us!"

I continued to stare at the case file needing to believe it was ALL there. One surviving folder that awaited for my return held my past, my identity, and my dreams. Breaking my visions, reality kept speaking to us, telling us that the process would take weeks and that the hopes of finding them was very slim since my sister left very little information with the agency. Again,she added that my siblings may not want to be found even if we would searched them out. As she walked away, she politely reminded us that we could look though my file but could not copy it due to privacy concerns. As she left the room, Louie, quickly jotted down a phone number that was written inside the file. This is where our journey began. It began with a number that gave us hope and courage. A number that brought forth the past and led us to an incredible adventure.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

My Reunion with my Surviving Siblings on the Korean Show, Ahchim Madong 2004

Sorry if I am not following a timeline of personal events. I like to try to post by subject matter and the different themes that may arise. That said, I thought it would be interesting to go from child leaving Korea for the US and then The Reunion back in Korea some 25 years later. This Clip is of my Reunion with my Siblings. The AMAZING part of this story is that My husband, Louie our Tour Guide & Translator, and I found EVERYONE within three days. It was the last Three days of our Honeymoon. This was the most happiest and heart breaking moments of my life.

So my new life has begun

My Mother & Sister welcoming me to America.
...I remember my outfit. The adoption agency tried to pick out 'an american' style outfit. I believe it had Disney Characters and I had denim shorts.

Farewell to the Blond Lady

Departure & Arrival


My childhood summed up into ABandC

My Profile * Personal Data

Korean Birth Certificate

아빠 엄마

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Arrival & Departure

Okay. Here is an essay I wrote when I was in Middle School. Back then, I used to write about my adoption and my memories of Korea in fear I would eventually forget my past or blur them together. Being so young, adopted and not able to turn to anyone to validate my memories was always tough. I have so many memories but yet do not know if they are only my interpretations of my past or if those memories were indeed my past. You would think, because I was adopted when I was around 7 years old, my identity would be more intact and there would be fewer questions. This is not the case. I hold many memories and fading faces that to this day trouble me. I guess you can say that I cannot remember a time when I did not feel that sense of uncertainty and void within my heart.

Departure & Arrival_

I stopped walking and stood in the middle of a huge white building. Echoes from the monitors continued to bounce off the brightly painted white walls. People rushed in every which direction as the voice over the speaker announced the departing flights. I wanted to turn back. I did not want to go. Tears ran down my face. I did not want to cry but it was too late. I turned to her, looking for approval, but the only response I received from my Foster Mother was for me to go on . She is telling me to be strong and brave. Brave for the younger ones that were also leaving for the same destination. I dried my eyes and did not look back. I continued to walk ahead as I carried a baby in one arm and held tight to a little girl's hand. When we arrived at our waiting area, a tall blond American Lady greeted us. She was my flight escort to America.

I was the last one to go. By the time my flight had arrived, the baby and the little girl had been taken away by their new care takers. The blond American Lady took my hand and led me onto the plane. All she knew how to say in Korean was, "KyungMee" my name.

Once I was on the plane, my thoughts went back to my Eldest Sister. It had been a few months since I last saw her. I wondered if she would come and take me home. I missed her and was angry at her as well. The ride seemed forever and I did not know how far or where America was. At one point during the ride, I peered out the small circular window. Looking down, I could see a lot of snow covered houses and people. As I continued to look, I realized that they were clouds.

When we arrived in America, the blond American Lady and I departed the plane to get onto another plane only slightly smaller. Most of the flight I kept busy with crayons and candy. At one point, I had to go use the bathroom. I tried to speak to the American Lady but she did not understand me. I found myself standing up and squatting to show I had to go. During the rest of my flight, I stared out of the little window wondering what my new family would look like.

Coming off the plane, we walked through a long walk way that led us into a very busy and loud waiting area. The people in the room seemed very different. They looked and dressed differently. It seemed everyone had blond hair. I could hear everyone talking but could not understand. No words spoken made sense to me. I suddenly felt very lost. The blond Lady grabbed my hand and headed for a strange moving stairway.

As I stood on these moving stairs, dressed in my brand new clothes, my eyes searched for anything familiar but there was nothing. I only heard loud voices echoing and confusing me. Finally, we reached the bottom floor, and the American lady led me towards my new Family. I tried not to look directly at them. Standing in front of me was my new Mother and Sister. They looked exactly the same as they did in the photographs I had in Korea. They embraced me with welcome and gave me many gifts. I could not share the same joy that day. In my mind, I knew, I had to be very good and useful to my new Mother so my Eldest Sister would be proud and come for me.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


How do I begin? Let's start with the title of this new blog. KOREAN AMERICAN ADOPTEE. It's funny, I do not at all walk around addressing myself as a Korean American nor Korean American Adoptee. Don't get me wrong, people have always asked what or where I am from and I would always respond with, "from Korea..oh yes, South Korea but adopted". It never sounded 'PROUD'' or 'STRONG'' like in this title. So, I may start here, and say proudly, I am a Korean American Adoptee! And perhaps, I may eventually say it to my family, friends, and neighbors with equal strength.

I am not a stranger to have written my thoughts down in the past but this way to communicate by 'blogging' is all so so new to me. I am going to just run with this and see where it may take me and how it may reach you. I have been thinking about this blog for some time and hope that it will allow me to connect with other Adoptees and to hear their stories as I hope to share my experiences, thoughts and dreams.
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