The Brutal Agony of the Calm After the Storm
It’s been two months since the fateful day of the verdict of my court case where the Seoul Family Court recognized me as 99.981% being my biological Korean father’s daughter. I’ve held countless interviews, and there are currently 10 Google pages that host the numerous articles written about my paternal lawsuit and search journey.
I would, and could, not have imagined that this would happen, and I’m still in awe of it all.
However, two months after the spotlight and shock of what happened is finally settling in. I’m realizing that in my everyday life and in my search for my mother, nothing has really changed. I still do not know who she is, and have not been able to meet her. I’m back home with my beautiful family and traversing life as I did before, and continue to be ignored by my father and his family. The hurt and questions that burdened my heart before are still present, and even though victories were won and many different adoptee/non-adoptee communities are cheering me on, my quest is ongoing without any real hope of it coming full circle. I’m in survival mode again as each day passes by and I try to focus on the here and now; enjoying the amazing life I have and the amazing family I have, but in the back of my mind I’m still agonizing over those unanswered questions that I had worked so hard to get answered.
COMPLEXITIES FOR ADOPTEES
It’s amazing how we as adoptees manage it all if I do say so myself. We are expected to forget the trauma surrounding our circumstances of arriving into our new families. We are expected to move on, and not dawdle on mere things of the past, as what good will come from doing so? We are expected to be thankful and happy for the new life we’ve been given, and if we dare to search for our roots, then others demand to know what went wrong in our childhood that we would ever have this longing?
Are we not happy or thankful for our current families? I’ve been criticized quite a bit from strangers, and even loved ones, with these types of questions since my trial broke headlines around the globe. As often as I say I can brush it off, it of course does hurt.
How is it that people are so ignorant about adoption and the complexities involved?
This has become my mantra alongside restorative justice for adoptees’ right to origin; to educate the everyday person on the street to gain—even if it’s a sliver of—understanding that adoption is so much more complex than how it was, and still is, currently packaged and sold where: “Adoptive parents are saviors and adopted children have been rescued from poverty and should be thankful for the new life they’ve been given.”
I want to tell you that most adoptees are thankful for their new lives, as we’ve been told since we were young to be so. Most adoptees are also afraid to search for their origins or birth families as they feel it will be a betrayal to their adoptive families. Most adoptees also will fall into an identity crisis at some point in their lives, since most are raised in a homogeneous Caucasian society, and it’s natural that they will at some point recognize that they themselves are not Caucasian.
WHY ADOPTEES SEARCH
When most adoptees search it is completely not associated with whether or not they are thankful for their families or lives, and whether or not they love their families or have a good relationship with them. It has everything to do with the fundamental need of knowing as a human being where one comes from, and seeking answers to those life questions.
My lawsuit was representative of a girl searching for her mother and all the culminating events that led to that fateful day of June 12, 2020.
I never imagined finding a family member, let alone my father; and I never imagined I would file a lawsuit against him. I’ve rehashed countless times in my interviews, and all social media platforms, that finding my father or filing a lawsuit was never my goal. If my father or his family would have discreetly given answers as to who my mother was, does one really think I would go to these excruciatingly painful lengths?
Do I not as an adoptee, have a right to know these answers? Does a birth family’s right to privacy outweigh my right to know my origins?
These are questions that are now circulating because of my lawsuit and interviews I have done. Thousands of Koreans in Korea, for maybe the first time, discussed my actions, and the overwhelming majority of those comments were in favor of my father taking responsibility and telling me whom my mother is.
Statute of limitations, closed adoption, and the severance of first family ties are completely irrelevant now with DNA-proof of family origin. The Korean Family Court has now set a precedent that even an adoptee who’s family was completely stripped away in Korea by a closed adoption case from Holt in 1984, has a legal right to be on their father’s family register with proof of DNA.
However, questions remain: Will it continue? Will my lawsuit actually set a precedent and bring about systemic change? Or, will it bring harm to the birth search quest as some critics claim?
Only time will tell, but my hope is that the Korean government will provide restorative justice to adoptees’ rights to origin when they revise the Adoption Act of 2012. In doing so, they will be taking responsibility for their role in sending the more than 200,000 adoptees away, and allowing us our rightful place to find our way back “home.”
Kara Bos (Kang Misuk) is a Korean-American adoptee—now a Dutchie—living in Amsterdam with her Dutch husband and two amazing children. She’s an adventure seeker discovering the world one country at a time (more than 50 so far!), an entrepreneur running a drowning prevention program Swim4Survival, and through her journey has become a resilient spokesperson for adoptees’ rights. She is determined to change the rhetoric of the more than 200,000 Korean adoptees searching for their identities and past; while also hoping to change the narrative of the definition of what adoption means to the average individual. Furthermore, she is a woman, wife, and mom, trying to do her best at all three of those while not sacrificing any of them.