I’m probably never going to meet any of the people who were in my life before I met my parents, before I came to the US. Oh, I might be able to track them down — unlike some of my friends, I was one of the lucky ones. I have the names and cities of my birth parents. And part of me really wants to find them, part of me really wants to meet people who are actually biologically related to me. Part of me wants to know whether I look like them, whether I inherited any of their traits or skills. Part of me wants to know — know for sure, know for certain — whether they loved me. Did they give me up because they didn’t want me, or because they wanted a better life for me?
One of the things that’s most holding me back from delving into that unknown is that I don’t think they could handle who I now am. And I know I can’t currently handle bringing who I am to them. How would you tell a woman that her baby girl, the baby she gave up those many years ago, isn’t a girl? With the language barriers, the cultural differences, could it even be possible to explain who I am in terms that they would understand?
I have one chance. They would be half a world away. With relatives here, I have time and multiple chances if coming out to them doesn’t go well. But with my birth parents, I would really only have one chance, if that. Would I want to risk it? But in a way, I would have to. My likely once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet them — I think I would loathe myself if I pretended to be someone I’m not in order to meet them. It would be such a waste — to use the potentially only chance I might have to meet my birth mother, and then to hide who I am and just show her a facade.
There are so many problems. I don’t even know if I could find anyone. I don’t even know if anyone would want to meet me. In preparation for my first trip to Korea, my mom and I put together a miniature photo album to put in my file, in case anyone came looking for information about me. I later discovered that no one had ever seen it. The deeper significance didn’t dawn on me until later, one night as I was falling asleep — no one had looked for information about me, not once in eighteen years. It’s entirely possible that they’ve all decided to pretend that I never existed.
It’s been almost twenty-two years since I came to the US. What right do I have to disrupt their lives? My birth parents weren’t married. That my birth mother had an illegitimate child must have been a scandal of immense proportions. Bringing that up again would be bad enough, especially if she now has a different family who doesn’t know about me. But a queer, trans, illegitimate child who was sent away to America showing up? When I’m being realistic, I can’t imagine this going well.
Furthermore, I don’t think I could handle their disappointment in me, or worse. My parents — my “real” parents, the ones who have raised me — accept me, support me, and love me. They won’t disown me for being queer, for being trans. Do I really need more parents? Would that just be looking for heartbreak?