Thank You, 21st Century Technology

It happened to me, My South Korea Adventure

I am a Fortunate Cookie. 1) Because of my amazing family. 2) Because of the following story.

Growing up, my family would ask if I had any interest in finding my birth parents. I never really gave it too much thought and always said, “I don’t know. Probably not.” As I got older, the interest turned into wanting to find out if there were any “family” health issues (thanks medical professionals). While I was visiting Korea two years ago, I completely changed my mind.

I don’t really know why I changed my mind. I must have had an overwhelming feeling being in Korea and wanting to know more. When else would I have this opportunity to be so close to where I was born and to have a chance of maybe learning more about myself? So I found the address and headed to Holt’s headquarters in Seoul.

Since my friend and I randomly showed up, I had to make another appointment to come back and go over my adoption files (some I had not seen before and were only available in Korea). When I went back to see Esther, the social worker, she had my files in hand and was ready to answer any of my questions. She could not, however, answer my one question about any family medical issues. As the conversation was coming to an end, Esther asked, “Megan, do you want to try to contact your birth parents?” A question I wasn’t really expecting but responded with a yes.

Esther explained the Search & Find process at Holt. They would first contact the Korean Police to see if the numbers (like our Social Security numbers) were even valid for my birth parents. She said that back in the day people would lie about their numbers and Holt did not check them then. If the numbers proved to be valid for my birth parents’ names, then Holt would find the address of the last submitted location. A telegram would be sent so that Holt could not be identifiable in case someone else was living there. The reason being that adoption is still very secretive in South Korea. A lot of families do not wish to bring the matter up anymore or deny it ever happened.

Five days after my return from Korea, Esther sent me an e-mail that contact was made. Through translated letters I was in contact with my three older sisters and birth mother in South Korea.  The third daughter (closest to me in age) was the main communicator and she was very busy with work. She still lived at home with my birth mother and must have helped send her letters to be translated by those at Holt. Sadly, the letters started to decline after a year.

A year later after a few unanswered letters and broken English e-mails, I received an e-mail from Hye Jin. She apologized for not responding. She had quit her job and went on a long journey. She also asked if I used “WeChat” and sent her phone number.

I had no idea if WeChat was an app or not, so I immediately searched through the Apple’s App Store and there was WeChat. What an amazing application to work with our technology. On July 21, 2013, I had my first live video chat with my third sister and birth mother.

I was trying to figure out the features of WeChat and “accidentally” started the video chat. It was one of the best accidents I could experience. There wasn’t a lot of talking…just a lot of looking, waving, and crying (is it bad they cried and I didn’t?). The next day, the oldest sister added me to WeChat and video called me while I was at work. I had to go in another room to talk to her (she cried too). Then the following day, the second oldest sister added me and video called me (she didn’t cry just giggled a lot).

It has been really hard to communicate due to the fact that I know about five phrases/words in Korean. They know some English but it is very broken and sometimes difficult to understand. I think we all use Google Translate, but the third sister told me it didn’t translate well. So now I’m enrolling in a Korean language class and they are learning English.

But thanks to our international technology, I am able to do something I wouldn’t have dreamed of when I was a child. Thank you, technology!

Order of photos: Birth mother, first born sister, second born sister, third born sister. (I am the youngest girl and then I have a brother who is the youngest of all the siblings).

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