“Aaaiiiieee!!!! NA DO!!!”
Shattering the relative quiet of the shopping mall in Coex Underground Shopping Mall, Korea’s largest in Kangnam Gu, the shrill screams pieced the air like ‘fingernails on a chalk board’.
I looked over toward a 5-6 year old Korean boy, rolling on the floor, kicking and pounding the floor. He apparently wanted some toy and was DEMANDING “Give ME” at the top of his voice. One would think that his Korean mother would just DO SOMETHING.
She spoke to him like an adult to another adult, trying to reason with him…and how was THAT working? Not very well.
“Just POP him one!” I thought with a sense of disgust and disdain. AiieeSheesh!! The mother then gave in and bought the darn thing for him! An immediately he shut up, smiling in victory. ‘Ahah, I knew it, throw a tantrum and the spoiled brat gets what he wants’, shaking my head in disapproval.
THEN from out of no where a THOUGHT popped into MY mind.
“Remember? That was YOU…”
“What? No, not me…”
FLASH BACK-Church Daycare Center, Los Angeles, Cal. 1956….
“I am sorry, Mrs. Bell, we can’t deal with him. He goes crazy, as soon as he realizes you are gone! He just snaps, screams bloody murder and runs out in the hall, looking for you. Children get scared and upset. And he doesn’t understand English yet…Maybe…well, maybe he needs to just stay with you awhile.”
A tearful five year old clutched her skirt with both his hands. Slowly recovering from his panic attack, his breathing slowed, but he held onto her Choir Robe for dear life. ‘Not going to lose another mother’!!
“But I can’t take him with me in the choir, what am I going to do?”
“Excuse me, HE is your son?”
An oriental woman in her mid-sixties looked kindly at the distraught Caucasian mother and the clinging “maybe, sorta an Asian boy”. She spoke to him, “An Yang Ha Seyo?” with a slight bow.
The boy peered out from his new mother’s Choir robe, to stare at this woman who could SPEAK! Instinctively, he bowed back and replied “An Yang Ha Seyo, Halmoni”.
I had completely ‘forgotten’ this in my conscious mind, a memory that was stored in my distant past. Somehow God was reminding me of this incident from the time when I had just arrived from Korea. I would not let my new mother out of my sight! Mom had discussed with me several years before her passing on to heaven how I was such a, well, pain in the butt. I would escape from the daycare center and go into the church screaming for her, in ‘Korean’ as I had not learned much English to the amusement of the large congregation of several thousand.
Mom was in the church choir, since she had been a singer with her two sisters since her youth. They were on radio back in the 1930’s as teenagers, singing as the “Willis Sisters” in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Aunt Anna was the eldest, then Nadine (Mom) and kid sister Katie. During the Second World War, as they were performing in the USO for troops, Mom met my Dad in a bar across the street from a dance hall. Mom was very ‘progressive’ and since they both had tried calling their dates several times, SHE bought HIM a beer and then suggested that they go dance together. They had a great time and were married not long after. But I digress, as my best friend Nick Nicholson would say.
From that day forth while we lived in downtown Los Angeles and attended the big church, during the services my little sister and I stayed with the kind “Oriental Lady”. She lived just across the street and my mother would drop us off and Halmoni would take my sister put her on her back and tie some kind of blanket to hold her securely.
During those transition months I learned from her English, ate rice (real food!) and kimchee. I had almost lost those memories until they came flooding back that day as I observed “some spoiled brat” and felt such anger! WHO WAS I ANGRY AT?
Then it hit me, I was angry at the MOTHER! NO, Could that be? YES, it was true!! I was faced with this realization that deep down inside ME was anger at my Korean Mother for ABANDONMENT! It was HER that left my sister and I at the Reception Center and though she came several times a week to check on us, to my child’s thinking I was blaming her somehow. I had unrecognized and unresolved issues of anger and rage, but underneath all that was the PAIN and LOSS I felt as a five year old child. “Why did she send me away?!! Where is she?” Throughout my life I had covered over these thoughts but the Instant Rage came from the deeper LOSS of Abandonment.
I had done all this counseling with OTHERS on these matters, and I knew all the terminology but had never faced this FOR MYSELF. Here I was about to appear on “Exorcist” the program on night time Korean Cable channel TvN. And I was dealing with these thoughts only now. It was a sobering thought and over the next several weeks until the shooting finished I had to set it aside for later.
These are some of the issues children from 2-3 years and above have to deal with, the loss and abandonment issues. We forget some of these feelings but professional counselors (I am NOT a professional) will tell us that it affects us all our lives. Please get Joe Soll’s books on “Adoption Healing: A Path to Recovery”Amazon.
As we explore searching for biological family members we all need to be prepared to DEAL with many issues. It is a long journey, fraught with many unexpected potholes, emotional and mental challenges. Read as much as possible to hear what others, who have blazed the trail ahead of you, have experienced to help prepare and understand what is happening. Even if, as in my case you do not find them, it helps to look inside ourselves and perhaps find balance and inner peace. Good Luck.