How could she remember me?

Alyssa Conner

In my previous column, I shared some of my experiences when I visited my birth country, South Korea. Another memory I cannot help but share is when I visited my adoption agency, the Eastern Social Welfare Society, because it proves how much of an impact people have on others’ lives, regardless if they are an ocean away.

The third day of the trip, families were given the opportunity to visit adoption agencies that were relatively close to the hotel. Families could meet their foster parents or biological family members or open their adoption files.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to meet my foster parents, who took care of me until I was adopted. They weren’t contacted untilat least a couple weeks before I left because the plan was originally to try and contact my biological family, which fell through.

I remember entering a small room where a representative welcomed everyone and played a short video about the society.

After the video, the representative led us through a tour of the building. She showed us the room where a foster mother would bring a baby for monthly check ups. The room looked so familiar, but I couldn’t remember where I have seen it.

The representative pointed out a corner of the room where each of us had our pictures taken with our foster mother each month. I then remembered my parents showing me the first picture they received from the agency. It was of my foster mother and I sitting in that exact corner. Nothing about that corner had changed, it looked exactly the same as in the picture.

We then were all introduced to the founder and president of the society and provided with lunch. I could barely eat because I was so anxious for that time I’d been waiting for.

After lunch, we went back into the room where we had started. The representative explained it was now time to either meet your foster parents or open your adoption files. She began calling out the Korean names of the children who were adopted and assigning them translators.

“Sohn Hye Mee,” she said.

In total shock, my mother and I stood up and followed the translator. I could tell my mother was surprised too. We for sure had thought my foster parents weren’t going to be able to make it because it was such short notice.

The translator guided us to a room and opened the door, and there sat my foster mother. She was about 5 feet tall with short hair. She had a bright blue shirt on with white pants and, of course, high heels. She wore vibrant make-up that made her look like she was in her late 30s.

I had goose bumps all up and down my arms. She stood up and hugged both my mother and I.

I instantly had to fight back tears. I had been looking forward to this day and was in disbelief that my foster mother was sitting right by me.

We asked each other questions back and forth through the translator. We talked about school, families, activities I was involved in, etc. My mother and I brought photo albums to show her. Every picture she looked at she would look at me and then smile. Throughout the whole time we were together, tears would spontaneously fall to all our cheeks. The emotions in the room were so overwhelming, it was hard to take it all in.

My favorite part was when my foster mother explained how I was her first foster child she took care of in the 18 years she had fostered, and that she remembered me. She said she knew exactly which baby I was when my adoption agency called.

Saying good-bye was one of the hardest things. Tears were falling and hugs wouldn’t end. I remember my foster mother wiping away my tears and cupping her soft hands around my face. She just looked into my eyes, and it felt as if we both knew what the other was thinking. I can’t explain what I was feeling at that moment or what was going through my mind, but I know I will never forget what it felt like.

Alyssa Conner is a junior public relations major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].