To continue on my retrospective of my relationship with my birthmother…here is the next chapter
It was September 9, 2009 and this was my first entrée into blogging, but I didn’t realize I was doing it. I sent an email to a list of 20 friends to bear witness to a chapter in my life that would be life altering yet again. My birthmother (My Umma) and brother were coming to stay with me for a long spell. I needed an outlet to get this experience out there and hopefully gain support as well.
To start things off, how did this happen? Korea is now on the list for most favored nation status and so Koreans are no longer required to get the highly coveted visa to visit the USA. Thus cleared my Umma to come if she so wished. Second, her husband, and my brother’s father, passed away – they are now free. Third, I sent photos to her to which I got a thank you email and one little phrase – “we coming to USA in October”. One phone call later….and yes, they were coming. For how long? Well, that took several phone calls to elicit – after asking “how long can we stay?” my husband’s generous reply was “as long as you want!” At first it was one month….
To characterize the beginning of several near mishaps in communication, I relay this funny story:
I spoke with my brother to try and find out what time they are arriving, flight number and airline. I got a new date, an approximate time of arrival, no flight number. Then, my brother tells me that our mother has been thinking about what food she can bring. He asks, “do you have kim chee?” Apparently, Umma wanted to bring kimchee from Korea to NY! Are you kidding? Even in a vaccuum packed container, the stench of garlic and fermented cabbage is permeable! I could not say in Korean that Customs would never let her enter with prepared food so all I said was, “the airplane will really stink and the other people on the plane will really really hate you!” Chalk one point for me that I was able to stop that disaster from occurring!
I was left pondering the image of four adults, two car seats and a five seater car!
A few weeks later…
The official itinerary in and it occured to me to look at the return date on the ticket – January, 2010….that’s three months! That included Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and my birthday. That’s a long time.
I went into hyperdrive looking for anyone to guide me as to how this will work. I knew of only one other adoptee who had her birthmother come for a visit and the only advice I got was…make sure to visit the Korean video store and rent lots of Korean dramas. I bought the Korean channel for our TV. But like a new mother who doesn’t want her kids to watch too much TV, I found myself in a bit of a pickle over this. “Welcome to America Mother,….here (and turn on TV)”. I had to laugh or else I would have cried.
Preparing the children
So, I figured I needed to tell P, G was too little, of the pending visitors. It meant doing the real adoption talk I was not totally wanting to do at this stage of his life but there is never the right time for such a talk. We had just paid a rare visit to my family and while putting on his pajamas, I asked P whether he noticed if my mom looked different from me. Yes, but couldn’t tell me why. So I told him that I have two mommies to which his eyes got huge and said, “You do???” Yes, I told him that I have one mommy who gave birth to me and one mommy who raised me and taught me how to be a good person. I then informed him that the mommy who gave birth to me lives all the way in Korea. Again, the eyes got huge and he said, “She does???” And then I said she is coming to visit us to celebrate his birthday and he had a huge smile on his face. I told him that he met her when he was one, and she carried him on her back and he loved that (he loves piggyback rides so he was pleased). I thought his birthday was as good a reason for him to have her come and visit, we have been talking about his birthday for weeks. And then he ran off to play with his cars before bed. And that was that! I wish I could have taken a picture of his face when he heard I had two mommies, it was priceless.
You would think with all the books I have read and all the times I have talked to parents I would have known what to say and while I have thought about these words for years, I was rather proud that it was as uneventful as I had hoped. True to form, his 4 year old mind just took it all in, just as all the books tell us they do. The best part though was that I wasn’t nervous and I wasn’t stumbling on my words and for that I am most grateful.
With therapist on speed dial, friends in the know, children and husband ready, I steadied myself for one hell of a ride.