Searching for Seoul Post 4

greg raines

Photo by Greg Raines

I remember sitting at a restaurant with my siblings and discussing the possibility of a search for our birth parents.  I recall that one of us said they’d never feel whole if we didn’t, that the other seemed to take it all in stride. I thought as the eldest, it would make sense for me to kick the tires for us, test the waters, and take the lead.

You’d think I’d have started that night, done a quick Google search on my phone at least, see what surfaced.  But it wasn’t until three months later that I even thought of it again.  The idea flit across my mind like a fruit fly, small enough to ignore if I wanted. I wonder what would come up if I searched White Lily Orphanage.

A part of me expects my laptop to glow with promise like searchlights crisscrossing on Hollywood Boulevard as I begin.   And while no searchlights catch me in their beams, I am caught by surprise.  Near the top of the results is a link to a Facebook connection group for adoptees from White Lily.  I cringe a little.  Is this some sort of “support” group?  Some group for people who aren’t happy about the way their stories turned out? Some place where people go to complain about being adopted? I click despite my hesitation.  And just like that my reality changes.

Within the week, I am staring at a photo of myself at an age when no one in my life belonged to me enough to take photos and print them off, and frame them on walls or glue them into family albums.  It’s an old photo that Sister Theresa of St. Paul of Chartres had dug up in my file.  In my file! And according to my new friends from White Lily, digging up information was what Sister Theresa did for former White Lilies.

My eyes fill with tears as I stare at the girl in the hideous beige turtleneck with the tight floral print.  I try to read her eyes but the expression is blank and I realize I’m crying now because the girl in the photo doesn’t know the future she’s been consigned to, doesn’t know that there is a reason to hope.

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Searching for Seoul Post 3

My birth father was thirty-one years old when he faded into the background of my life.  According to the police report, the highest level of education he’d attained at that time was high school.  Under occupation it has a little “dot,” like an n/a.  A blip.  Under Marital Status it says, “Wed,” which looks like a blip too.  And apparently, it was.

I remember thinking at the time, no wonder he couldn’t take care of me and my siblings.  He’s either unintelligent, unresourceful, unmotivated, or both. I thought how lucky I was to have adoptive parents who were educated and successful and told me over and over again that they would never leave me.  But for the most part, I thought little of him. It was as though the lack of substance on that police report affirmed the thoughts I wanted to embrace.  I hadn’t lost much back there, in Korea.

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