Archive for November, 2011

Description:LGA monthly contributor (and mild mannered) Shelise Gieseke talks about her recent, not-so-pleasant and frustrating experience with Eastern Social Welfare Society (ESWS) and Children’s Home Society & Family Services (CHSFS).

Topics Covered: Birth family search, GOA’L, Korea Central Adoption Resource (KCARE), Eastern Social Welfare Society (ESWS), Children’s Home Society & Family Services (CHSFS), responsibilities of adoption agencies.

Additional Note: A couple of weeks ago we reached out to the Children’s Home Society & Family Services (CHSFS) leadership, offering the agency the opportunity to respond to conversations like this podcast.  Believe it or not, but we here at LGA want to be fair.  The leadership declined the invitation.

It’s so frustrating and discouraging to listen this.  Since my adoptive parents didn’t go through an agency, I’ve never had to deal with them.  Long ago, I use to think it might have made my own search easier if they had.  I guess that just depends, now doesn’t it?  Maybe I’m over-simplifying it, but to me, it’s just common sense that adult adoptees (whether domestic or international) should have access to and control of their own records.  Duh?

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It’s been a while, so I guess the first thing I should do is update the identity timeline.  Once again, I find myself laughing and crying  at how many times I’ve had to adjust my personal history.  This year, I took the leap and sent in a sample to FamilyTreeDNA.  I figured at best, I would find a match that might lead me to my birth family.  At the very least, my DNA might tell me whether I was of mixed race or not thus finally, irrefutably revealing which of my adoptive father’s “truths” were true.

But before I continue, let me see if I can break this down:

  • Orphan (Vietnamese) – both parents dead
  • Possibly not a true orphan (but still Vietnamese) – parents’ deaths never verified
  • Biological daughter of adoptive father (Vietnamese-Amerasian) – allegedly adopted to hide that I was his bio daughter
  • Daughter of a prostitute (possibly Vietnamese-Amerasian) – supposedly adoptive father was approached by a prostitute who claimed he was the father
  • Possible Orphan again (genetic origin unknown) – found in orphanage and purchased for approximately “$1000 dollars in bribes”

Anyone who’s even remotely familiar with my story will know the many times I’ve questioned the accuracy of my personal history and had to change major details.  Each time I pulled out the shovel and uncovered a little more, the story changed.   With each edit, I felt I had to let a part of myself  (and the attached perspective)  die so that the more recent incarnation could take its place.  During the latter half of my identity adventure, the changes happened so quickly, I felt like a T-1000 in its final death throws.   On top of everything, there were more immediate matters to attend.  Exhausted to the core, I felt I had to step away or risk a serious meltdown.

Fast forward a couple of years or so. 

I heard about Operation Reunite and the efforts of Trista Goldberg to assist Vietnamese adoptees in finding their birth families using DNA tests.   I had fought and faltered my way to a half-decent place in my life.  While still hectic, the element of chaos had lessened enough to allow me time to breath and reflect.  Why not dig a little deeper into the mystery?  A couple of cheek scrapings and a trip to the post office didn’t require a lot of effort.  All I had to do was sit back and wait for the results.

I tried to put the test out of my mind, all the while, fighting off those old fantasies of finding my birth family.  Uninvited, they would push themselves into my consciousness while I ate, in the middle of work and into my dreams as I slept.  I was determined that I would not be crushed again and so, tried to keep my expectations extremely low.  But who was I kidding?  I needed this test to be the key to my lost origins.  Time to shift into survival mode.  Using my adoptee superpowers, I turned off the psycho/emotional switch.

After a couple of weeks, I came home from work to find an email stating that my results had been posted:

Matches – 1 remote cousin match

Population finder – 83.95% Lahu; 15.56% Han; a margin of error that roughly equals plus or minus 30-something percent.

Initial response:  WTF?  Does not compute.

I’m still researching and trying to digest what those results could mean.  I sent an email to my remote cousin match in hopes discovering another clue.  I know it’s a long shot, but when it’s all you have, anything can turn into something.  As of yet, I have received no reply.  The test did verify that my adoptive father was not my biological father.  It also told me that I was not Amerasian.

Still the question remains:  Then what am I?

And the search continues…

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