A Letter from Omma to her Beloved Daughter

HLH is  doing groundbreaking work in Korea through our nonprofit foundation in bridging the language barrier and becoming one voice for Korean birth families and adoptees.  We share this first person account of a Korean mother who lost her daughter to adoption in their own words in real time of April 2018:

To my beloved daughter,

Thirty five years later, I am holding a pen to write to you with a heavy heart. I have been wanting to see you so much, but I had no idea how to find you.  I found out that by writing to you through Holt Adoption Agency, I have a glimmer of hope to find you. I am overwhelmed with emotions writing this letter.

I met your dad when I was 17 years old, on Christmas Eve at a party. When I got there, there were lots of people and it was snowing heavily. Your dad asked me to be his girlfriend. We continued to see each other after that day and eventually married. One day, your dad’s family had to move from Cheonan to Seoul. After a while, your dad said we needed to move in with his family in Seoul, which was an entirely different life for me. My new life in Seoul consisted of living with your dad’s family, my in-laws.  I found out later the reason why your dad’s family had to move to Seoul was because of financial difficulties. Shortly after, I became pregnant a second time, this time with you.  My mother-in-law was upset by this. She made things very difficult during my 10 month pregnancy. It was a sad period of my life where I had little control over anything. After I gave birth to you, my mother-in-law and her daughter had already made arrangements to have you adopted through Holt. My consent was never given. The day after you were born, a Holt worker came to visit me. I cried so much holding you in my arms and that was our goodbye. I was devastated. 

My memory of you has never changed. It is of you as a newborn baby that I had just given birth to. My heart is still so torn and painful from losing you like it happened yesterday. I always carry you deep in my heart. Would I ever be able to find you? Would I ever be able to see you again?

I wonder if you are alive.

I have so many questions but I have no way of knowing. If you are still alive, I wonder if you are happy, if you are married.  I would like to tell you that in Korea, you have me your mom, your dad, an older sister, a younger brother, and a niece and a nephew. Your sister is married with one girl and a boy. When you were born, you had many similar facial features from your sister and your dad. When I look at your sister’s daughter, I think about you. 

I am not able to see you, but I pray for you always. I know you left with your adoptive parents. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to your adoptive parents and I wish you and your adoptive parents health and happiness.

I love you so much and I am very sorry,

Your mom

한국 사회에 바치는 공개 질의서

한국 전쟁 종전 이래로, 한국은 계속해서 입양과 관련하여 논란의 소지가 많은 관계를 가지고 있습니다. 전쟁 오랜 시간이 흐른 뒤, 입양은 약 220,000명이라는 한국의 원치 않는 아이들을 발생시켜, 전세계적으로 15개 국가의 사회 복지 시스템으로 진화했습니다. 서양에서는 건강한 아기들이 끊임없이 발생함을 확인했습니다; 전 세계적으로 매우 인기 있으며, 제한된 자원. 이러한 충격적인 수치는 아이를 입양하고자 하는 양부모들의 끝없는 수요에 대해 한계가 없다는 것을 뒷받침합니다. 이러한 부모들은 아이를 입양하는 것에 있어 엄청난 특권 및 힘을 가집니다. 많은 경우, 이들은 자격을 갖추고 있지 않거나, 제대로 심사를 거치지 않습니다. 하지만 이는 세상에 메독 현수 오캘리헌 으로 알려진 어린 소년의 경우와 마찬가지로, 실재하는 어떠한 장벽에 대해서도 질문을 제기하지 않습니다. 그의 아버지는 그의 부인과 함께 전체 입양 과정 동안 고의적으로 숨겨온 정신적 질환에 대해 길고, 엄청난 이력을 가지고 있었습니다. 이 엄청난 뉴스는 현수군의 잔혹한 죽음 이후에서야, 최종 판결을 통해 비로소 세상에 전해졌습니다. 만일 대한민국이 입양 동화 같은 삶이 아니라는 것을 인지했더라면, 이 슬픈 비극은 일어나지 않았을 수도 있습니다. 이 사건은 전세계 입양아들의 삶이 중대한 이해관계를 가진 도박과 같다는 것을 폭로했습니다. 입양아가 희박한 확률을 깨고, “더 나은 삶”을 얻을 것인지, 결국 학대, 성추행, 고문, 심지어 죽음의 위기에 처하게 될지는 마치 세계적인 복권인 셈입니다. 지난 60년간 학대를 받은 많은 입양아들은 세간의 이목을 끈 이 이야기가 전국 뉴스에 보도된 이후, 이제서야 학대 받은 그들의 어린 시절에 대해 공개적으로 밝히고 있습니다. 이 골칫거리는 미래의 입양아들을 보호하기 위해 우리가 검토해야 하는 현상입니다. 수십 년간의 입양 이후, 정책이 더 나아져야 마땅한 시점에 이러한 일이 어떻게 일어날 수 있었을까요? 현수군의 한국인 양모가 현수군을 입양하고 싶어했지만, 입양 알선 기관에게 거짓말을 당하고, 이 아이가 어떻게 해외 입양을 위해 보내질 수 있었을까요? 국제 입양 시스템에 속수무책으로 걸려든 현수군은 어둡고, 끔찍한 비밀을 가진 사회적 지위가 높은 가정으로 보내졌습니다. 이 비밀은 너무나 끔찍하여, 그의 목숨을 처참히 앗아가 버렸습니다. 믿기 어렵게도 이 부부는 한국과 미국 양쪽의 입양 알선 기관들을 속였으며, 계획적으로 그들의 평가와 신원 조사를 불법으로 통과했습니다. 현수군과 같은 미래의 어린이들이 바로 형편 없는 입양 시스템의 무력한 인질입니다. 한국 사회는 국제 입양으로 보내지는 그들의 어린이들에게 무슨 일이 일어나고 있는지 알고 있나요?


입양과 관련한 보이지 않은 상처는 입양아의 가슴과 마음에 큰 상처를 남긴다.

입양인들은 부모를 잃은 것 뿐만 아니라 모든 가족, 문화, 언어 그리고 자신의 출신도 함께 잃은 것이다. 그들은 모든 사람과 모든 것을 잃었는데도 불구하고 이들을 입양한 양부모들에게 잃어버린 것들에 대해 위로 받지 못하고 무시당하는 경우가 많다. 전형적으로 모든 사회, 가정, 친구, 그리고 다른 입양인 들은 학대 받는 입양아들이 이러한 고통을 말할 수 있다는 것만으로 만족해야 한다는 분위기에 그들의 트라우마는 더 악화되고 있다. 입양인들은 행복에 대해 자신의 삶을 해석할 수 없다는 것처럼 강요 받고 있는 것이다. 이것은 분명히 현수나 다른 많은 입양인들 만의 경우가 아니다. 모든 입양인들은 다른 곳으로 입양되면서 손실과 비극적인 환경을 경험하게 된다. 양부모로부터 단지 학대가 없다는 이유로 입양인 들이 트라우마와 고통이 없을 것이라고 생각해서는 안 된다. 사랑과 이해심이 많은 양부모들이 많다. 그렇지만 입양인들은 그들이 입양되었다는 자체에 배려하는 마음이 없다는 것에 고통 받고 있다. 이것은 의도치 않은 형태의 무시 이지만 깊은, 보이지 않는 상처를 유발 시킨다. 국제 입양인들은 전형적으로 가족 안에서 “명예백인” 으로 살아가길 기대 받고 자란다. 이러한 역할은 입양인들에게 일반적으로 받아들여지는데 현상인데, 심각한 부모의 실패 이다. “정서적 무관심”이라고 한다. 입양인들은 감정을 인정받지 못했기 때문에 감정이 성장하지 못하고 상처를 받게 된다. 그리고 그 상태로 어린 시절 트라우마를 겪은 어른이 되는 것이다.

The Narcissistic Adoptive Mother Unmasked

There is a phenomena that continues to show up repeatedly in abusive adoptions. This is known as the Narcissistic Adoptive Mother or NAM, who adopts for self serving reasons and has no ability to empathize and lacks a conscience. These children are used to maintain a “happy family” image, but behind closed doors the fury is unleashed. Adoptive families are *supposed* to offer a “better life” for adoptees. This cannot happen when a selfish narcissist adopts pretending to be a selfless saint! We need more and better mental health professionals involved from beginning to end in the adoption screening process.

“The secretly mean mother does not want others to know that she is abusive to her children. She will have a public self and a private self, which are quite different. These mothers can be kind and loving in public but are abusive and cruel at home. The unpredictable, opposite messages to the child are crazy-making.  True narcissism is a serious disorder that harms children.  Narcissists are truly all about themselves and cannot show genuine empathy. They have a limited capacity for giving unconditional love to their children.”   




DNA Testing and Social Media: What Adoption Agencies Can’t Control

My Heritage is offering 15,000 DNA kits worth more than one million dollars for free to help adoptees and birth family reunite. Who is eligible?  Participation in this project is open to adoptees seeking to find their biological family members, and to parents and other family members looking for a child they had placed in adoption years ago. Preference will be given to people who are not able to afford genetic testing. Leveraging the power of genetic genealogy opens new doors in the search for relatives, and we believe everyone should be able to access this valuable technology. Applications are open until April 30, 2018


Korean Adoptee Michael Pulliam

From Korean American Story 

Michael Pulliam endured racism and hate starting at the age of 5 in kindergarten where he was punched in the face and all throughout his school years every day. At 13 he was entered a psychiatric hospital for the years of mental abuse, grappled with suicidal thoughts and endured the loss of his former girlfriend to suicide.

“This is the seventh installment in the Love/Hate series of the Legacy Project, highlighting the Korean Adoptee experience, and the connection to mental health.” ~ Korean American Story

Jaime Fujioka’s Adoption and Reunion

From Dear Adoption “My adopted parents loved me the best way they knew how and did the best they could. I went through years of therapy, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication, investing in the wrong relationships, always seeking approval from others and hoping I was “enough,” trying anything and everything to fill the loneliness and inadequacy I had felt, hoping that I’d just “grow out of it.”  I had learned to put my feelings aside and bury them.

 It all felt so easy and so natural compared to how I felt with my adopted family, where everything felt forced. I felt relaxed and elated. I finally felt like I fit in. People walked past us and knew we were family. A mother and her two daughters. Is this what family felt like?…….I thought back on the last 29 years of my life and how quickly things had changed. I realized I felt whole. The emptiness and longing was no longer a part of me. I loved and felt loved.

Trauma and Adoption? Really? Yes Really

Adoption and trauma are not said in the same sentence. It’s a new concept, even for most adoptees. It’s a breakthrough moment when we finally get that critical piece of what “adoption” involves.

From the  I Am Adopted blog:

“The more I speak with adoptive parents, the more I am learning that adoption agencies and adoption professionals rarely educate or prepare prospective and hopeful adoptive parents about adoption trauma, leaving many adoptive parents struggling to understand their child’s behavioral and identity issues, and inability to attach to their adoptive family.

Knowing what adoption trauma is and understanding the effects of the separation between a child and his natural mother is vital for adoptive parents to create a healthy relationship with their adopted child. Having an understanding of adoption trauma will help adoptive parents recognize their child’s issues associated with adoption trauma and find the necessary help by seeking therapist trained in adoption trauma to help their child be the best version of themselves as they grow up.

In the event that you were not educated or made privy of adoption trauma, I have put together five of the best books for adoptive parents, natural mothers, and adoptees to learn about adoption trauma and themselves. These books have the power to unlock identity issues, grief, PTSD, depression, anxiety and find validation in issues that many adoptees struggle with.

Top 5 adoption Trauma Books 

Society Constructs our Beliefs of What “Adoption” Is

This blogpost from Adoptee Restoration addresses the tremendous pressure, societal programming and isolation that adoptees grew up with as their only reality: “be grateful you were saved, and adoption is beautiful” is what society, family and friends told us to believe as adopted children in our families.  Even as adults many adoptees find it hard to go against that belief system because there is a heavy price to pay or backlash from family and friends.

“In the past, adoptees were isolated in their realization of truth, surrounded only by other, perhaps otherwise-trustworthy adults all claiming things about adoption that we suspected in our hearts to not be true, or certainly not the complete truth, or even our own truth.

They all desperately wanted us to go along with their program, and many of us did try, to our own detriment. We may have doubted ourselves as there was no real adoption support network for us then. Some of us figured it would be easier to simply not make waves. We are still learning that waves are what make positive changes for other adoptees and for ourselves. Our lone voice, if we dared to speak up in the past, would be diluted or dismissed.

Then something happened – adult adoptees found each other and began to compare notes, bond, and support each other. We now know if we don’t speak out and help one another, nobody is going to do that for us. Things that should not continue on, would.”