The Search for My Father:
We've Come a Long Way, Baby!

Major advancements are happening in the search for my natural father. I believe we are close to an end of the search and am cautiously optimistic. 
I never would have dreamed even a month ago that we would be at the place we are at now.

Incredible breakthroughs have happened.  It’s amazing how many people have come together and given of themselves to help me. I have the most amazing search team, ever! My stepfather Tom (who is assisting me in the search) mentioned to me the other day how amazed he is that so many are helping – and specifically some people who do not share my religious beliefs.  I explained, I have many friends – even very close friends, who do not share my faith.

I am not shocked that people who don’t share my beliefs help me, as I’ve always had relationships with people of many backgrounds and walks of life. I am, however, surprised at how many complete strangers are helping me.

Reunited Korean American Transracial Adoptee Mila Konomos Shares Her Thoughts About Adoption, Christianity & More (Part 3 of 3)

Today brings us to part 3 of a series of posts from the incomparable Mila Konomos. If you missed parts 1 and 2 check them out...

Deanna: What are your feelings about reunion?

Mila: Uh, every feeling possible? Ha.

For me personally, reunion has been both the best and worst experience. It is both exhilarating yet heartbreaking. Uplifting yet crushing. Fulfilling yet draining. It is the experience of feeling every seemingly contradictory emotion over and over again. It is learning to live life with a divided identity that no matter how hard you try to merge the two, they always feel at odds.

Reunion is not for the faint of heart. And it is certainly not a fairy tale ending. Although it may bring answers, it does not bring closure. Although it may bring healing, it does not fix anything. It does not make adoption all better. And when you are facing language, cultural, and geographical barriers as an international adoptee, well, obviously, this further complicates the reunion experience, not only short-term, but long-term.

Although I can say without a doubt that I do not regret searching and finding, there are times I wish I could make it all disappear. For me, as an adoptee in reunion, I am constantly having to manage complex, seemingly contradictory emotions, thoughts, identities--it’s maddening at times. And somedays, I just wish there was a way to make it all go away. But the reality is that it will never go away. So, I have to deal with it. Reunion is endlessly complicated, and hence my feelings about it are equally complicated.

Reunited Korean American Transracial Adoptee Mila Konomos Shares Her Thoughts About Adoption, Christianity & More (Part 2 of 3)

Once again today we're talking to the ever insightful Mila Konomos! If you missed Part 1, be sure to catch up by reading here.

Deanna: What do you feel are the greatest misconceptions about adoption in general?

Mila: I think one of the most popular yet inaccurate views of adoption is that it is ultimately a good thing. There is a general perspective toward adoption that it is ultimately a noble and beautiful thing--when all is said and done, all the suffering, loss, pain, damage associated with adoption is ultimately mitigated by adoption. Adoption is still viewed as an overall gain in which the loss is cancelled out by the love--this is a harmful misconception that hurts everyone involved from the adoptee to the original parents to the adoptive parents, because it creates unrealistic expectations for everyone.

Another HUGE misconception that so many, especially Christians, REFUSE to dismantle is that adoption does not cause child abandonment/relinquishment, corruption, trafficking, and the like. Christians rarely acknowledge the demand and supply relationship that has been created by modern adoption philosophy and practices.

Christians revel in willful ignorance and choose to believe that adoption is “saving” children from orphanages and/or unloving, dangerous family situations. This is a terrible misconception--and this “head-in-the-sand” approach has provided the perfect substrate for pervasive corruption and abuse to flourish within the international adoption industry. And that’s another misconception--that adoption is not an industry. Oh, but it certainly is.

Reunited Korean American Transracial Adoptee Mila Konomos Shares Her Thoughts About Adoption, Christianity & More
(Part 1 of 3)

This week I’m featuring a three part series by my friend and fellow Lost Daughters sister, Mila Konomos. It’s my joy to introduce her to you today, particularly those who may not know her, yet. She’s someone whose poignant posts and caring heart  compelled me from the get go. Her posts on the subject of adoption are among the most widely circulated in the adoption community, and for good reason. She always leaves the reader with so much to think about!

Before you read her three part interview this week I invite you to take a look at her reunion video. It's six minutes and thirty-three seconds of fascinating footage, which never fails to bring me to tears.

Deanna: Mila, although I've known you for a while as part of Lost Daughters, this is the first I'm introducing you here at Adoptee Restoration. Could you begin by giving us your adoptee story in a nutshell. (I know, I know, that's hard!)

Mila: It’s a pretty typical Korean adoptee story in some ways. I was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1975. Adopted by a White American couple as an infant. Began searching for my Korean family in 2002. Found them in 2009. My American parents are less than supportive but more than indifferent to my reunion. As far as being an adult adoptee, I live a good but complicated life in which I feel relentlessly divided. If folks want more details they can go to my retired blog, Yoon’s Blur or to Lost Daughters.

A Complicated Question for Adoptees

“Where are you from?”

 It’s one of the most complicated questions I face.

 I wonder if other adoptees are as conflicted as I am about the question.

 Do they just quickly answer with one location, when  asked?

Most times, I just say, “I’m from Tampa.” (Which is where I live now.) And then people follow up with, “Oh, you were born and raised there?”

Then I’m left to explain why I come from multiple places.

As far as I know, I was conceived in Richmond, Virginia.

After that, my mother became homeless.

She was kicked out of her parent's home and landed at the Florence Crittenton Maternity home in Norfolk, Virginia.

As I share in my memoir, Worthy to Be Found, my mother describes that time as  "nine months of living hell."

After my birth, we both came back to Richmond, Virginia where my maternal family is from. I was in foster care for a while until I became a “viable” adoption. (Translation: It was determined I was healthy enough to adopt and was not going to be a poor investment of my adoptive parents investment paid to the Children’s Home Society.)

My mother tried to go home but was kicked out again for having been pregnant and having me and her sister, my Aunt Jeri* helped her survive that time.

I was adopted through the Children's Home Society of Virginia in Richmond.

See me in the reflection on the doors? Yep, I went back...several times.

We lived in Virginia for a short while, and then settled in Baltimore, Maryland where I spend the most of my growing up years.

Being asked, “Where are you from?” is a simple question for most, and makes for good start up conversation. But, for me -- an adoptee, to answer truthfully when I’m asked, makes for quite the loaded question. And then, when I do answer with the facts of the places I come from – it quickly segues into adoption in general and people tend to have a zillion questions. One's like...

“Do you know your real family?”

All of my family members are real.  

“How is your mother doing with all of this?”

They are referring to my adoptive mother 99.9% of the time. Okay, 100. This question pretty much guarantees I won’t end up being real close to this person that’s doing the questioning. Rarely is it endearing to me okay, never that a stranger cares more about what my adoptive mother thinks than they care about me -- the person they have actually met who is sitting in front of them. Yeahhhhh that is pretty cray cray. Not once has anyone ever asked, “How did you do with all of that?" People seem to be obsessed with what adoptive parents care about. Rarely do they think about the adoptee. Even when you're grown and have a mind of your own. 

“I have a niece who is adopted. Unlike you, she never wanted to search.”

Yippee for your niece. She may be able to sell you a fog machine if you are ever interested.
But I digress. Back to where I’m from…

While Baltimore very much feels like home, so does Richmond.
 It always has.

When I drive through the streets there, it’s a depth of feeling like I don’t have with any other city besides Baltimore and it’s been that way as long as I can remember. I feel a mix of emotions when journeying through the area, that I can’t fully describe. And I know to most people who are not adopted that would seem bizarre. Nevertheless all I can tell you is, since I was a very small child , I have always felt a wave of familiarity unlike anywhere else when we go through the streets there.

If you are not adopted and you ever want to ask an open ended question to an adoptee that cannot truly be answered quickly, just ask where they are from. And then, you might want to listen without asking ludicrous questions like how their mother, whom you have never met nor probably ever will, is doing regarding their adoption.

*Names of my maternal family are changed in my writings, out of respect to their privacy.

All photos by Deanna Doss Shrodes

Adoptees Deserve the Truth No Matter What

No. Matter. What.

That’s the absolute answer to the question, “Should all adoptees have the truth of their origin, no matter the circumstance?" 

Photo Credit:
I am still very much in search mode. There is an active search going on with a team of people who are committed to help me search for my natural father. In fact, we are closer to the resolution of this search than ever before and have bona fide leads that are DNA matches.

I am cognizant of the fact that many people believe in some circumstances, it’s best that a person not know the truth. 

Or that when the truth is revealed and the person's father or mother ends up to be a rapist, abuser, criminal -- or even someone related to their other parent. (cases of incest) it's understandable that the truth was not revealed to them.

And I believe that’s bull.

When People Desperately NEED You to Say Adoption is Beautiful

I had a friend.

The loss of the friendship makes me sad and at the same time, not so.

Reason being: I believe in living in reality. 

Photo Credit:
Is friendship worth it if it requires you to depart from reality?

My ex-friend, Linda*, is adopted.

Linda has often remarked that she's, "sooooo glad she was adopted." Emphasis on the word was. She doesn't consider herself an "adoptee" and bristles at the word. Although adoptee is the proper term for anyone who is adopted, never mind the facts.