In South Korea, the stigma for unwed mothers is severe and saving face is sometimes the most important thing. For my young birthmother of 14 years old, letting her pride go and giving me to a new family us the best way she could show me how much she loves me.
When I was little, I would write letters to my birthmother and dream of meeting her. I patiently awaited my high school graduation because my parents told me they would take me to Korea as a gift. When it came close to that time and my family began looking into a Korean adoptee travel program, we received a letter about Korean birthmothers. In Korea, reputation is everything and if a married woman is found that she had a child out of wedlock, it is social suicide. Her husband will divorce her and she will loose her family. I cried as my adoptive mother read me this letter and realized wanting to meet my birthmother was selfish. Just as my birthmother showed her love for me by giving me up for adoption and a better life, I wanted to show my love for my birthmother by protecting her the best way I could: turning down my trip to Korea and putting my search for her on hold.
Four years after reading this letter and 22 years of life, I still think of my birthmother everyday. In the last four years, I have learned more about Korean culture and the language. I have learned the name of my birthparents through accessing my adoption records. I have placed a letter in my adoption file for my birthmother to read if she ever chooses to do so. I have done everything possible to achieve the dream of teaching English in Korea by graduating from college and securing a job in Korea starting in mid-June. Even though I will be in Korea and closer to my birthmother than ever, I will never know if I get the chance to tell her how much I love her in person. Instead, I’ve chosen to show her how much I love her by learning about my culture, living my dreams, and praying for her everyday that her life is filled with nothing but happiness. It’s true when they say that sometimes love is letting someone go. To my birthmother - thank you for loving me selflessly enough to give me up to a mother who shows me how selflessly she loves me everyday. Any girl would be lucky to have two amazing mothers like I have.
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