Monday, February 16, 2009

Orphanage mother

I have mentioned this before, but only in passing.

When I visited the orphanage I came from in Daejeon, I met my Orphanage mother! Its been 23 years since I was there last and she was still there! She cried and kept holding my hand and rubbing my cheeks! (my adoptive mother does this too!! I don't know what is with my cheeks, but for some reason my mothers always have to rub them!)

After hearing my story, I have come to greatly appreciate my orphanage mother. She gave me my Korean family name of "Yang", it is her family name. Even though I was only 3 at the time I was brought to the orphanage, she decided to keep me there (The orphanage is supposed to be for children 5 years and older). I was there for almost 2 years by the time I was adopted. Lastly, she had the youngest picture of me, that I didn't know existed. They took the picture the day I arrived at the orphanage. I was in clothes that I didn't recognize, and now thinking about it, I wonder if those were the clothes that I was found in, or if those were orphanage clothes? Maybe someday I'll ask.

She said that she was so thankful that I was well and had gotten a good education and had a good job. In my 23 years of being away, I never once thought about my orphanage mother. I've probably thought about my birth mother 10 times in my life, and of course my adoptive mother all the time, but my orphanage mother...I didn't even know one existed!

Apparently there were 4 of us that were adopted overseas from her "children". She said she was scared because she never heard back from any of us, and was constantly worried if she made the right choice of letting one of her "children" be adopted overseas. She then told me that one of my "brothers" visited from Germany a year before me! and that I was the second one to return "home"! She said she was so blessed that we were doing so well.

This really opened my eyes to the "unsung heroes" in my life.

In adoption we always talk about the birth mother, adoptive mother, and the adoptee, but never talk about the "orphanage mother" or people invovled in the orphanages where we came from. I wonder if my case is unique in that my "orphanage mother" has worked in the same orphanage for so long? I wonder how much of an imprint we (adoptees) leave behind on the workers that work at the orphanage.

This year for Valentine's Day I don't want to forget my "Orphanage Mother". I never realized until last year, that I had someone worrying about me at my orphanage.


  1. Wow. What an amazing story. APs really need to hear stories like this. So often I read about families adopting their child and they chose to not visit the orphanage or foster families. They say they are worried about stressing out their kids but, in reality, their kids are already stressed by the transition. IMO- it is an APs responsibility to gather as much info as they can and meet and pay respect to their children's caretakers. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Just stumbled upon this blog. That is a wonderful story about your orphanage mother. I've often wondered about my foster mother and whether she would remember after so many years.

    You are right that probably every child who passes through their home, leaves an impressionable mark, at least that's the hope anyway.

  3. I had lived with a foster family prior to my over sea adoption and to this day, I have nothing but very fond memories of them. They were one stable memory that I did not hold any grudges nor questions. I wish I could thank them for that! It was one place in my life that was the most happiest. Funny, a couple weeks ago, I just wrote a piece on my foster mother in my new blog. It is amazing how so may of usadoptees share connective stories! -KyungMee (I hope you don't mind, but I have linked you site to mine).Thanks.

  4. Thats great to read about your orphanage mother!
    I've read through your blogs and either I have missed the posts- or you didn't post, but have you found your birth family at all, if I can ask?