I Miss That Person.

I have been searching for my birth family for 11 years. Actively searching for 11 years. In 2012, I lived in Korea and decided to pursue an adoptee’s last option – going on national television. For an adoptee who has no information, this is considered to be the last resort for our search.

I appeared on “I Miss That Person” on July 27, 2012. It was a popular show for anyone who had lost touch with someone in their life and wanted to reconnect. There were several adoptees who were interviewed on the show. The week before me, a Michigan adoptee reunited with his birth mother.

Much like any popular broadcast network, KBS (Korean Broadcasting System) likes a good show. Tears. Emotion. Drama. They told me it was okay if I cried. I had the feeling they were encouraging me to. But alas, I did not.

I felt nervous. Anxious. What if a family member was watching? What if someone put together some puzzle pieces of the past? I was sweating so bad, I was so nervous. I kept touching my face. Some makeup person kept powdering my face between breaks. I was nervous having to work with a translator. I was nervous about stumbling over my own words. I talk slow so I was also nervous about moving too slow for the hosts.

The interview went fine. It was as expected. I had 12 minutes with the hosts and translator. It was an adrenaline rush. It felt forever and flew by so quickly.

Nothing ever came from appearing on television. The KBS contact told me there were many callers after the show but no one had a solid piece of information on my family or my story. I left empty-handed and waited for anything to come from it. Weeks. Months. And all was forgotten.

Isn’t it something that I have to go on national television and share my entire adoption story just to attempt to gain some kind of information about my own life? It felt both liberating and embarrassing. But I did it. And I have been doing it over and over for 11 years. In online news outlets. Over the radio. In newspapers. Contacting my agency.

I would still like to return again and visit my hometown of Guri, located on the outskirts of Seoul. I have visited a couple times and would like to do more investigation with possibly some flyers.

I am unable to share my interview via YouTube due to copyright issues, however if you would like to watch them, I can email them to you, via DropBox. I have held on to these 3 short videos since 2012. I haven’t shared these to many but in lieu of watching “Closure” and “Little Fires Everywhere,” I wanted to share.

Chips.

“Why is your nose so flat?”

“You have a flat face!”

Look! I can have squinty eyes too!”

I grew up in private schools in the east end of Louisville, Kentucky. I was one of a couple minorities in my school, and I had four older [white] brothers that attended before me. I was held back in kindergarten, so I was a foot taller and a year older than everyone else in my class. I grew thick skin quickly, because it wasn’t that I noticed I was different. It was everyone else in my grade who noticed I was different. And as you know, kids are not the most tactful or mindful of your feelings. Thankfully, I was just plain bigger than all the other kids, so I did not get bullied or picked on too much. In fact, I think I immediately puffed up.

Honestly, I was a mean kid. I felt defensive. I felt offended. I felt embarrassed. I felt angry. I was a little overweight. I wore really baggy clothes (thank you, 90’s). I never got in trouble at school. Or at home, really. I had close friends but kept them at arm’s length. In the most pertinent milestones of my development, all I wanted to do was fit in.

Perhaps it was and is part of the depression, but often in social settings, I would feel this loneliness come over me. It would hit me right in the middle of hanging out with friends or dinner, or some kind of social setting. A zipped up emotional Katie that completely shut down. For most of my life, I never understood where it came from, why I felt it, or how to prevent it from happening, but then I started educating myself more about depression and realized it was just part of my process.

It took me a while to acknowledge the anger that lived inside me. From defending myself of things I could not change as a child to injustice toward people of color. It took even longer to figure out how to redirect it. And I am relearning how to deal with it as a married person, because it is different dealing with it alone. It is another thing when you have to deal with your anger with another human being.

I no longer walk in shame of what I look like and who I represent. I know my experiences have taught me to be an advocate for others who feel silenced and those who suffer from any kind of illness. I am slowly letting go of the chips off my shoulder.