January 11, 2010
Dear Kyung Joo Whom I Miss So Much,
It has been raining all day today giving new life to the earth. I can feel that spring is not far away.
I heard that due to heavy snow, many schools and offices in the USA were closed. I was worried. I hope you were not affected by it. Since hearing from Holt, I have been keen to know more about your country. I have been trying to follow everything that has happened over there.
I received you thoughtful gift—letter, photos, and poetry—for me. Thank you very much. Everyday I look at your photos and read your letter. Each time I do so, tears roll down; it was tears of joy and regret.
I feel truly grateful that you have grown up beautifully, both internally and externally. I feel like I have found an old treasure shining brightly in the dark, buried deep in the ground. I think it is God who led me to this invaluable treasure—you. Words cannot express how happy I am to find you. I am forever grateful to Him.
Your letter was comforting to my guilty soul. You could have resented me or complained to me, but you did not. You even said that you respected me. My heart ached for that. I trust that you were able to develop a positive point of view toward life because you grew up in a safe environment with a loving family.
My mom and sisters (your grandma and aunt) also shed tears after seeing your photos and letters. They said, although they never met before, they felt like they knew you. I think that is the power of the blood.
It is utterly impossible to tell you everything about the past in this letter, but I would like to try to tell you a little bit about my family and your adoption. I am sure you are curious about that.
Your birthfather’s name is Park Mun Soo. He and I grew up in the same town. We went to the elementary school together. Because we lived in such a small town, we had to attend a middle school and high school in a different town. Until then we had been good friends. While he advanced to the college, I didn’t because as the oldest of the family, I had to help my family financially and also take care of my younger siblings.
Your birthfather and I both lived in Busan. He was a college student and I found a job in a small office. In Busan, we met often and our friendship developed into something more serious. We fell in love and it was the first love for both of us. We dated each other for about eight years (During this time, your birthfather served in the army and was discharged). Then we realized that I was pregnant with you.
From that moment, our relationship started to change. We had to worry about so many things and argued often. To me, pregnancy was a blessing—it made me realize how precious life was. I had no doubt about that. I believed you were the fruit of our true love. However, it was not the same for your birthfather.
As a college student, your birthfather depended on his parents financially. He was scared and could not find the courage to tell his parents about you. Plus he was afraid of what people would think of him. He was not ready yet. I believe you and I feel sympathy toward the situation.
In this difficult situation, I could not tell anyone about my pregnancy. Until I was seven months pregnant, I was able to hide it from people and went to work as usual. Your birthfather’s parents strongly opposed our relationship. They did not approve of me and it got worse and worse. To make things worse, your birthfather stopped seeing me. Our relationship stopped there.
At that time, we were young and immature and did not know how to handle the situation wisely. In addition, because both of us were the first child in the family, we could not go against our parents. This was true, in particular, to your birthfather. They had such high expectations of him. My father tried hard to make our relationship work. He even visited your birthfather’s parents to persuade them and get their approval for our relationship, but it did not make any difference. In the middle off this painful situation, I gave birth to you and handed you over to your birthfather’s parents or something. I do not remember clearly.
When I was drawn out of the hospital by my parents, I heard you crying, and it got stuck in my head. It was ringing and ringing in my head for years. I am thinking, you cried hard because even as a baby, you might have sensed what was going to happen to you in the future.
Since that day, I have tried not to think of you and nobody ever told me what happened to you exactly. There was no way of knowing about you. Plus, I was not strong enough to push my parents’ hands away in the hospital and run to you.
My parents were so terribly worried about me because my heart was full of anger and resentment toward the whole world. All I could think of was how to end my life there. To help me move on, they set me up with a guy, who is my husband now. They wanted me to forget everything about my past, so they rushed me into marriage. I married my husband without telling about you. I wanted to respect my parents and follow their decision because I caused so much pain to them and they shed too many tears for me. I did not want to disappoint them and I trusted their judgment.
My parents also had a high expectation for me as a first child among five children—one son and four daughters. All through my life, they had provided for me everything I had ever needed to grow well. They were such good parents, but I hurt them deeply. I still feel so sorry to them for the things that I had done to them. Thinking of them, I have always tried my best to live a good life.
In retrospect, I think everything was carefully planned and designed by God. I was supposed to meet my husband and have a family with him. I believe that it was God’s will. God provided me with a new family who helped me heal my wounds. I could live my life because of them. As I am alive and writing this letter to you, everything is like a miracle to me.
As I have raised two daughters, I have felt guilty, thinking of you and for not raising you. So I desperately needed something I could rely on, and turned to religion. I started to attend a local Catholic church. My faith in God gave me power to break out of my shell and has led me to the hope of life. Ultimately, it let me to meet you. I feel grateful for everything now.
22 years after my breakup with your birthfather, I had a chance to meet him at a school reunion held in our hometown. We talked briefly. Although our time was short, I could feel that he also had lived with a huge sense of guiltiness. He seemed that he really didn’t know what had happened to you. I am thinking his parents did not tell him anything since our separation. I can contact him and tell him about you, but everything is in the past. With passing time, my resentment for him has faded.
Even if somehow your birthfather and I had successfully persuaded his parents and got married, I do not think we could have lived happily. I am not a strong person. I might have not endured hardships and have run away leaving you behind or something. This could have made bigger misfortune and unhappiness for everyone.
My father passed away 16 years ago—he died of gastric cancer, and for his memorial service, my mom was down in Ulsan City with my brother for a few days. Now she is with me to celebrate of of the biggest national holidays, “Seol/Lunar New Year.” After the holiday, she will go back home. My sisters and brother are all married and have their family. Each one of them has one daughter and one son. They live happily. We gather together often. We get along great (it was the will from our late father).
You have two (half) sistesr. The older one is Park Gayoung (26), and she is a graduate student. Her major is International Studies. The younger one is Park Jiyoung (23). She majors in Chemistry in college; she is supposed to graduate this August. Both are beautiful and kind-hearted.
Someday I will tell them about you. I am sure they will understand. I am not brave enough to tell them now, but when the day will come, I will. I will continue to seek wisdom and courage from God. Until then, we can get to know each other better.
My dear Kyung Joo!
I think now we both have to believe in hope and try hard to live our lives to the fullest. Also we will have to be dedicated to helping others in need to pay back what we have received so far.
You are not alone. You have a wonderful family in America and also one here who looks like you. Like you, I am also thoughtful, introverted, and find solace in silence.
Your birthday is coming soon. How come I forget the day when you were born? Every March 1 was a sad day for me; I cried a lot. But this March 1 is going to be fine. I can celebrate the day of your birth. I really want to send you a small gift, but I am not sure if it is going to make it in time.
I love you very much. That you studied Korean in your college makes me happy and I really hope that you learn more of it. But don’t push yourself too hard because you are so busy with other things.
Miss Ma at Holt is a very special lady to both of us. She is kind and trustworthy. I really appreciate everything she has done for us. I heard that you will come to Korea this summer. I am looking forward to it.
Please take care of yourself and let us continue to do our best to live happily. Please send my best regards to your adoptive family. I am truly grateful to them. And please say hi to your boyfriend who loves you deeply. I love him.
Good-bye for now!