The search for Mee Hwa Kim which began over 18 months ago has had more twists and turns than a Game of Thrones season finale. After finding out that there was no need for me to go through the Australian Government and that I had been taken on a wild goose chase, and after being denied copies of my adoption files… again…. I was starting to think that this search was simply just not worth it. After several Skype sessions with my parents who encouraged me to keep with it, I decided to drop in again at my adoption agency and was surprised as to what was unearthed.
I dropped by unannounced hoping to catch them off guard. I had heard from other adoptees that if you make an appointment beforehand, that gives them time to prepare; time to remove any papers with identifying information on your birth parents. That being said, when the lady agreed to show me my file, she went to her desk, removed a wad of papers and came back to join me with a file half the size of the one she took out of the filing cabinet. So much for that then.
I was talked through the usual stuff and shown all the papers that I already had. At the end I told her that back in 2014 I was given lots of detail around my birth parents, what they were like, what they were good at in school, the circumstances in which I was relinquished etc. She simply told me that none of this information was in my file and that this was all she had. Well, then someone is telling me porkies.
On the way out, I asked her what the latest was on my birth family search. I was not expecting to hear anything promising back, otherwise they would have contacted me already, right? I had not heard anything since August when I was informed that my birth search application had been forwarded to Korean Adoption Services (KAS); a government affiliated organisation that helps locate birth parents. She looked through some papers that looked like an email chain and said ‘ah yes! We have news from KAS’. Well that’s bloody brilliant, why didn’t you start off with that then?!
Unfortunately for me, this lady didn’t speak great English but the information I did gain from her was that:
- KAS had found two people with my birth parents names who they believed were my birth parents
- KAS didn’t have any identifiable information on them
All the while she kept reiterating that ‘likely this search will reach dead end’ and ‘many people with name Mee Hwa Kim’. But when she casually mentioned that ‘Mee Hwa Kim had been contacted’, I tried to get her to explain more. Our conversation went something like this:
‘So you have found my birth mother and have contacted her then?’
‘No, will be very hard’.
‘Yes, but you just said you contacted her’.
‘No, too many Mee Hwa Kim’.
I wasn’t getting anywhere with this woman. So I just bit my tongue, politely excused myself, thanked her for her time, went to meet Steve and collapsed in floods of tears.
The following day Steve rang up KAS for me and made an appointment. Already they were more willing to help and spoke better English so I had high hopes of getting to the bottom of what the current status of my birth search was. On meeting with KAS it transpired that they had found a record of my birth parents but with no identifiable information. In order to do a location search (i.e. last known address), they need name and security ID number. They then passed this on to the police who, apparently, have more up-to-date records. The police didn’t find anything on my birth father but did find a security ID number for Mee Hwa Kim. They sent her a correspondence which they are not permitted to tell me what it says. I have heard from other adoptees that it is quite vague, something along the lines of ‘a foreigner from overseas is looking for you’. I asked what the next steps were. ‘All you can do now is wait.’
All the while KAS kept managing my expectations by saying that they cannot say for definite this is my birth mother. They just use all the information they know, like age, name etc and make a best educated guess as to whether it could be the right person. I’ve had a few days to take this all in. At first I was sceptical – how certain are they that this is the right person? What other information did they use or know that narrowed it down? Then I grew a little disappointed – the telegraph was sent back in August and nothing had been heard back since. Does she not want to meet me? Or has the telegram fallen upon someone else with the name Mee Hwa Kim? Then I became angry. If I hadn’t asked for an update would my adoption agency have told me? Why wasn’t I notified sooner seeing as though this happened two months ago?
But ultimately, deep down in my heart I believe that Mee Hwa Kim is out there somewhere mulling this telegram over. She won’t have shared this unexpected news with her family. It won’t be an easy decision for her to make; I appreciate that. If she is anything like me, she will be debating the pros and cons for a long time in her head before making a decision. If the verdict she reaches is that it’s too hard to reach out to me then so be it. At least I can be comforted by the fact that I have now done everything in my power to track her down. That is what I came to Korea to do. The rest now, is up to her.