Archive for the ‘Why I hate Holt’ Category

In 2001 I was reunited with my family after 27 years apart. Both my sisters called while I was on the air with the KBS show I Miss That Person. They said, among other things, that they searched for me the day I went missing.

I thought they were two impostors, but everything went too quickly, I hadn’t had the time to say my thought, everyone applauded and my airtime was passed to someone else…

When we met in persons a week later, they said, “you were not abandoned.”

Back in 1976, when I had started speaking the language of my adoptive parents, I had told them that I believed I was not abandoned. But my adoptive mother convinced me to that I was abandoned. So during 25 years, I had lived as an abandonee. It was the reason why I was available for adoption, according to my papers. abandoned

“You were not abandoned,” repeated my sister (through a translator), “I don’t care if you don’t believe me, but you were not abandoned, you were lost. You were a missing child.”

Last November when I was in Korea, pastor Kim of Koroot who translated us said, “your sister says you were a missing child.”

Yesterday, May 25, was International Missing Children’s Day. But I didn’t have the heart to write about it. So I’m writing in the middle of night, at almost 2:00 AM to honor missing children.

Suggested reading:

Your child is missing. Would you want their adoption to be easier?

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I had started to talk to my adoptive parents about my life and family in Korea as soon as I had learned to to speak their language. It was a year after my arrival, but I would have talked sooner if we hadn’t moved  to Quebec seven months after my arrival to the USA, which forced me to learn their mother language, French, and forget the little bit of English I had learned in the US.

I would tell them how and when my mother died (in a bus accident when I was six years old) and they would usually listen without saying a word. When there was any response,  my adoptive father’s  response was something that came out of his twisted or pervert imagination, “hmm, maybe she commited suicide?” or worst he would imply that my biological mother could had been a prostitute.

Maybe that was the reason why I talked more to my adoptive mother than to him, although her reaction was not better than his.  Her usual response was, “No, your biological mom died when you were four.”  When I told her how I lost my father, she replied, “No, it’s not true. He abandoned you to his landlord, and after three or four days he was gone, the landloard took you to a home for abandoned children.” I could feel the anger and the frustration rising in me, but  I would control myself and patiently repeat my story again or explain her how things really happened or what age I was when they happened. I felt that she wasn’t listening to me  or that she believed I was a liar. She even asked me a few times if I hadn’t imagined everything.

She would sometimes say, “I see that from what you’re telling me, Korea is late by thirty years” or “from what you’re telling me, Korea is like Canada was thirty years ago.” The latter response encouraged me to talk about my childhood in Korea.  I realized  many years later  that she listened to me and believed me only when I talked about my life or general life in Korea without specifically talking about my family, otherwise she treated me as a liar. I didn’t know then that that she believed the lies the adoption agency had told her or wrote on my adoption papers. She loved their lies.

A few years later I was in deep depression.  The only thing that made me hold to the life was my little hope of being reunited with my family. The nun of my former orphanage (from which Holt processed my adoption) put me in contact with a Qubecoise nun who had worked with her in Korea.  I brought my memoir (which I had began to write  to search my family when I was teen and that I resumed as a therapeutic mean encouraged by my doctor) and I read her a part of it. My intention was to ask her to help me find my family after reading her that part of my life growing up with my siblings (I had thought she could help me with the searching since she had lived in Korea recently), but she suddenly cut in with the question, “are you sure you didn’t imagine or invent everything?” I swallowed my anger and sadness and I said calmly, “of course not, how could I?” and again she asked, “are you sure you didn’t invent this story?” She loved their lies too.

Adoption agencies’ truth is made up with lies. And adoptive parents love their lies.

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Baby’s mom

When  I was newly adopted, my parents introduced me to one of their employees named Neva (or something similar like Niva, Nova, Nevaeh, etc.) who had a few month-old baby whose picture is below.


Instead of calling her by her name, I called her “Baby Mommy” which would make everyone laugh or smile and say, “she’s so cute.”

If they had known about Korean culture, they would have known that it would have been very rude and even unthinkable for me to call an adult by her name; they would have known that “baby mommy” was not a child’s cute way, but a Korean way to call a mother of a baby.

“Baby mommy”  was my way of translating directly the Korean expression 아기 엄마 (agi eomma) which means “baby’s mom”  with the “s” ommited (as the 의 of 아기 의 엄마 is ommited).

“아기 엄마 ( Baby’s mom)”. That’s how Koreans call a baby’s mother.  That’s how I called a baby’s mother while growing up in Korea.

If I had known Neva’s baby’s name, I may have called Neva “[the name of baby]’s mom”.  But I didn’t retain the baby’s name, it was a too difficult name for a Korean girl to say or remember.

 Unbeknownst to me  I was recycled to an all American girl (and later to a Québécoise de souche) within a short time, I stopped callling Neva “baby mommy”and I started addressing her and other adults by their names.

“Someone’s mother; someone’s father”

In 2001, a Korean friend (who then lived in Montreal) invited me to go to Korea. At the last moment she learned I couldn’t stay at her parents’ house, so she found me a family to stay with during my trip in Korea to search my family.   All I had to do, in exchange for my accomodation, was to speak in English or read an English book  with a seven year-old girl, the only child of the family. Her sister, who was the private English teacher of the girl, needed to take vacations, so I would be like her substitute. I told her that my spoken English was aweful but she assured me that it didn’t matter to the mother of the girl.

Before meeting the family, my friend introduced me to her sister to talk about the child, Sue Young…  “And what’s the name of the lady?” I asked at the end. A brief silence that followed made me feel like I had asked a wrong question. “You don’t need to know her name. Call her Sue-Young eomma, it means Sue-Young’s mom,” she said. While she was explaining me that’s how they do in Korea, I felt awkward and I felt like I wanted to scream, ” Why can’t I know the name of a person whom I’m going to live with for five weeks!!? How am I going to endure THIS for that long?!!!!” My whole body ached, but I kept quiet…

The language I don’t speak was once my mother tongue and the culture I find weird was once my culture. I don’t remember the language but I remember the culture. Yes, I REMEMBER  the Korean culture as if I had learned it from a book or from white adoptive parents (except that I didn’t learn it from something or someone stranger to the culture, I had lived it naturally with my natural parents and my people; I didn’t know yet anything about the word “culture” yet I was part of the culture and the culture was a natural part of me). And everytime I think of my Korean life with my  mind of Quebecer, my whole body hurts, it hurts so much I wish to die.

In Korea, parents are referred to as someone’s mother/mom or father/dad. For example, my teacher would address my father as 명숙(의) 아버지 which means “Myung-Sook’s father”; the teacher of my brother Dae-Yeol would address our mother as “Dae-Yeol’s mother”; My sister Marie’s friends would refer to our mother as “Marie’s mom”, etc.

Husband and wife may also call each other “[their child’s name]’s father” or “[their child’s name]’s mother”. For example, Sue-Young’s mom would call her husband, “Sue-Young appa” which means “Sue-Young’s dad”.

Myung-Sook’s father

As I remember this part of culture (referring parents to as someone’s mother/mom or someone’s  father/dad), my heart aches for my father. When I  lived in Suwon, my father was  referred to solely as  “Myung-Sook’s father” as all  my siblings had left home. I can only imagine how it hurt him to be referred as “Myung-Sook’s father” by the neighbors after I was gone.  I can only imagine how he suffered after losing me. I can only imagine how he felt every time he entered the empty house/room that was lent to us by our generous landlady.  I can only imagine the overwhelming loneliness and grief  that made him drink to death . [link] There was no other way for Myung-Sook’s father to escpape from such loneliness and grief after losing Myung-Sook (to the industry of adoption).

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The picture  below was taken in 2001 when I was reunited with my family after being separated (by adoption) for 27 years. It shows the back of my parents’ tombstone which was erected at the death of my mother in 1972. My name appears the last on the left (traditional Chinese was written from up to down and right to left). Before my name are the names of my brother, my brother-in-law, my elder sister and my older sister.

pierre tombale2

My brother-in-law who took the picture read me the names that were engraved on it.  I would have liked to tell him that I remembered he had read the names 29 years ago, but I couldn’t  because my mother tongue became a foreign language.

I was six years old when my mother died. I remember clearly the day she died and the day of her funeral. We put  food and pour wine on her tomb. Someone (probably my uncle) explained me it was to feed the dead. Adults followed by older children bowed down in front of her tomb. When came my cousin’s turn, she refused because she was too shy. I  was shy too but I courageously accepted to pay respect to my mother. While bowing down I heard my father speaking of me to a man, “…and she’s my youngest daughter, my baby.” His voice trembled and broke as he added,”Poor girl, she has no mother now.” At the end of the funeral  someone (the same person who explained me about feeding the dead) explained me that my mother wouldn’t come back with us, but she would stay in the mountain. For the first time that day I feared being abandoned. Each time I thought I was abandoned, it turned out I was not and I was very much loved.

My father was burried next to my mother five years later. I was 11 years old. I didn’t bow in front of his tomb. I didn’t  attend his funeral. I didn’t know  when he was dying and when he died. I was adopted since two years when he died. 

I learned of his death while I was aired on TV to search him and my siblings after twenty seven years apart. He died of liver disease in loneliess three years after losing me. My siblings and my brother-in-law thought of me in front of his tomb; they wondered what had happened to their missing little sister; they wondered if I was dead or alive; they would have never imagined I was sent to America for adoption.

My poor dad. While he was searching for me, I was  kept in an aweful orphange. While he was grieving for the loss of his favorite daughter, my identity was changed and I was processed for adoption. While he was drinking to drown his sorrows, I was calling a stranger “dad”.  [link, link and link] While he was dying in loneliness, I was dying as a Korean girl and being born as a Quebecoise girl. Adoption killed my father.

I was in front of his tombstone only twenty five years after his death. I didn’t bow down. I’ve become too “Québécoise pure laine” to do such “weird gestures”. I just watched my brother-in-law bowing down while  remembering of my mother’s funeral.  When he gave me a glass of wine (to pour on the tomb), I refused thinking he wanted me to drink it. He had to hold my hand tight around  the glass to pour the wine on the tomb. 

I may have lost my mother tongue and my culture, I may be legally the daugther of two Quebecers, I may have been recycled to a Québécoise de souche,  I am still the daugther of my only parents whose tombstone have my name and my siblings’ names on it.











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My family hojuk has seven pages.  The first page contains information about the chief of family (my dad).  My mom and my brother are on the fifth page, my sisters are on the sixth, and I’m on the seventh page. The picture below shows a part of the first page.


My orphan hojuk is only one page.  “Father: No record. Mother: No record” and a  birthdate (made up by adoption agency) are written on it.  It was created to make me adoptable. The  picture below shows a part of the translated version of my orphan hojuk (family registry created for adoption).









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