I now know that most of my physique comes from my Appa. We share the same light brown eyes, round face, lips, and have identical hands. We both failed to thrive after birth and were malnourished. I now know too, that my stretch marks on my knees come from him and my strong arms are definitely a trait of his. I now know my hair and furrowed eyebrows come from my Omma as well as the shape of my eyes and part of my nose. I now know the love story of my existence and some of the hardships my parents have faced that have shaped them to get after what they really want in life. I now have 4 wonderful parents who want to support me in anything I chose to do, which is the greatest gift ever. I truly am fortunate and could not have been able to make this trip without my adoptive parents and Elliott. People have asked me if I feel complete now. I wouldn’t say complete, but most definitely richer and more room has opened in wanting and having the possibility of connecting with my birth families. I now know my characteristics are much stronger than I knew myself and are deeply rooted among the people who gave me life and the people who raised me. Today my Appa saw me all the way to customs and my Omma is still struggling with her own pain of the situation but I understand where her heart is. Until I see them again, I will smile as I remember the memories of the trip, to stay healthy, reach my goals, learn Korean, and will frequently visit pictures to see their new familiar faces I love so much.
Today was my last full day in Korea. I spent it with this wonderful woman, Boyoung Kim, whose family I’ve been staying with the past few days. She is highly sophisticated, educated, and beautiful. She took me all over Gangnam today to a museum and 3 art galleries. I saw SO much! This woman is truly special and I look forward to seeing her again next year. She is so inspiring and has sparked new interests for me; she even wants me to get a PhD one day (dunno about that one). I said goodbye to Elliott’s family today and tomorrow I will part with Boyoung, my Appa, and Korea. I miss my Omma very much already and have had to fight the tears already of having so much distance between us again. I am excited to get home to Portland, however it feels as though I am leaving this amazing place that feels like it has always been my home. Thank you to EVERYONE for the overwhelming amounts of love and support as you’ve followed me on this trip. It’s been a dream that is going to be hard to wake up from.
This is Yu-Sang, Elliott’s nephew who now basically I am to him what he calls me, Noona/Gomo (Aunty). I do not want to leave this little guy on Wednesday. I just want to pack him in my bag and take him home, I mean, look at him. He highly enjoys candy and ice cream, things an Aunty Iike me is learning to spoil him with. My favorite thing about Yu-Sang are his kisses when I haven’t seen him for a day. Or when he is poking me in the butt or looking down/up my shirt cause he thinks he’s being so funny, when really he just is! Love this boy.
Today I finally met Elliott’s birth mother for the first time. She arrived in the afternoon and we hung around his brother’s house seeing what Google Translate (phone app) is really made of. We determined it to be very helpful and accurate to communicate with, more so when our phones aren’t dead :) This evening we went to eat at his brother’s restaurant again where we had our second order of chicken feet! It’s so amazing sharing this journey with Elliott and seeing him happy with his biological family. They are wonderful and we all consider each other family! Blood could not make us any closer and that’s how it’s always been; we now just have a stronger bigger family than we grew up with. We are so thankful and excited for each other during all of this.
Past couple days I’ve been site seeing and shopping around with Elliott. Korea is the definition of fashion! I will post more pictures when I get home (excited to share more when I’m not so exhausted). Biggest update is that it’s so freaking hot and I’m tired of sweating 24/7 but seriously… I’m now staying in Gangnam-Gu district, one of the more wealthier places in Seoul. If it sounds familiar it’s because of K-pop’s Psy’s very own “Gangnam Style”. Today I heard from Appa and he wants to come back up to Seoul to hang out AGAIN! So we are making plans for Tuesday; he wants to talk more and another difficult goodbye with him will be worth it. Tomorrow I hope to meet Elliott’s birth mother for the first time :) (at Gyeongbokgung Palace)
Today @elliottparr I spent the day together learning about history and Gyeongbok Palace and went shopping in a local area. We were able to successfully navigate through the city using the subway system as taking a taxi most of the time is very time consuming considering the high population in Seoul. The subway system is very interesting and extremely efficient here where everyone uses it and is not considered a lower class transportation like in Portland and some parts of the states. We then went out and experienced the night life where clubs in Seoul do not close until around 5:00am. Here we are at B-One lounge club, a very popular club in the area we are staying in. Nightlife is extremely fun but smelly as cigarettes are allowed indoors at clubs. Was a great day with Elliott (Oppa) as we immersed ourselves in the culture. (at B One Lounge Club)
Yesterday I woke up in the hotel room my Appa got us on the top floor of SongJung Hotel. He wanted to make memories and spend time together as much as possible especially because Omma could not and her situation could not allow her to. We woke up way too early on our last day together at 4:30am and talked using phone apps to communicate and it was sad because Omma had decided she could not say goodbye because she was too sad. Appa and I took a walk on the beach and later we went around the city where we had famous fish soup for breakfast. He showed me the outside of his apartment with apologies and hopes that next time I would be able to come in once his son and wife knew about me and were comfortable. He has every intention in having an open relationship one day which is a great feeling. Appa showed me his building he bought in a developing hip area where he is renting to businesses; he is quite the entrepreneur! So proud of him. After that I was to go meet Elliott and his family to head North again to Seoul but thankfully Omma decided she did want to say goodbye face to face. We met and sat in the backseat of my Appa’s car and had the wonderful translator on the phone. We had a much needed conversation for the first time one on one and we were able to reassure each other mostly me to Omma that she can let go of her guilt and not let her sadness get in the way of seeing me. We talked about our love for each other, interests, exercise Nd music. She knows she can cry infront of me now because we share the same sadness that I hope turns into happiness and smiled. We took a little walk around a playground of 200 toddlers, it was such a beautiful moment. Then we were finally able to hug where she sobbed from happiness and sadness and we held each other very tight. It was extremely hard to go separate ways. Appa dropped me off with Elliott and his family to go back to Seoul and it was difficult for us to say goodbye as well. I have 5 more days left here and it’s going to be hard not to see them again but we all have the understanding that this is just the beginning. This time together has changed our lives, I can’t wait to see them again! (at Benikea Songjung Hotel)
I can’t explain today. I’ve maybe slept 30 hours in the past 7 days. Appa and I had a translator for 9 hours today and had real conversations about our situation, life, love and culture. The amount of thoughtfulness and love this man has put into the past three days is unreal. Here are his two sisters he has opened up to about my existence and they were so happy to meet me. Say hello to my Gomo (younger Aunt) who I met yesterday and my Keun Gomo (older Aunt) I met tonight who had just leaned about me 24 hours before we met. I am so fortunate for having all these lovely people in my life now.