DescriptionWoman interviews her 21 year old daughter who was adopted from Korea as a 6th month old about her identity and recent trip to Korea where she met her biological family.
Subject Log / Time Code
- Meagan Armstrong
- Amy Blossom
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00:03 My name is Amy Blossom. I'm 53 years old. It is October 24th 2005 where in Medford Oregon and I am going to be talking to my daughter Meagan Armstrong.
00:16 My name is Megan Armstrong. I'm 20 years old. Today is October 24th 2005. I'm here in Medford, Oregon and I'm going to be talking to my mother.
00:30 So Megan, one of the things that I want to talk about was the fact you were adopted from Korea when you were six months old and we live in Oregon, but does it seem like a great place to grow up or how does it feel like I love Oregon here. I mean, I've been here my whole life. I've grown up here. I went to school here and I can't imagine another place to grow up. I mean, it's such a good community and you know, everybody knows everybody and you just feel very at home and very comfortable here.
01:06 I'm having grown up though having having been born in Korea has that made it has have you been interested in finding out more about the place where you were born? Do you spend most of your life here? You were six months old when you came over. So but have you had an interest in Korea? Yes, I you know being adopted at 6 months old. I don't remember anything in my life from Korea. And so but I've always felt that there was a part of me that was connected to it in some way. And so I always knew I wanted to go back eventually and I was very interested in you know my adoption and I've always felt you know, I'd always wondered if I had family over in Korea or you know why I was given up for adoption and that's really the question on every adopted kids. Mine is why so it always definitely had a very strong feeling about wanting to return there and but growing up in
02:06 In Ashland, how does that end having sisters and a brother? How how does it feel growing up in the community that you did? I mean when I was younger, I was very timid and very introverted and I didn't like when people would look at me differently. I didn't like that. I stood out because I was because I was Korean and that I looked differently from other people. I've definitely learned to cope with it and embrace it more than anything else. But now even when I'm 20, it is hard sometimes because I have two sisters who are gorgeous, but they're very much the stereotypical American girls and it's definitely hard sometimes because I feel like you know the ugly duckling of the family I guess but I mean, I know I'm not ugly, but I'm in a contrast to my sister.
03:05 It's very different than I've been mistaken for foreign exchange student at times and that's a little hard with assumptions made, but I've learned to deal with it and I really don't take anything really personally, you know as an attack against me, so it's almost hard to remember that you used to be timid and quiet because you've overcome that so much and you're so outgoing. Do you think that has any different that's just your inner self coming out?
03:37 Yeah, you know I always thought that when I was a baby I was moved around so much from what I've been told you're being in an orphanage being in a foster home and leaving my biological parents and I thought you know that moving around so much and being separated from people as a young baby that that might have had an effect on why I was so timid and so shy growing up because I was afraid that people were going to leave me and I didn't want to get a tat or we get too attached and then I wouldn't I wouldn't want to ever leave them cuz I was afraid that another person will be out of my life.
04:13 I know you never wanted me to take a shower and get that far away. We were very close but going back to your feelings about Korea. What made you decide to go there and do feel it was the right time for you to go there?
04:33 I had mentioned it, you know a few years ago when I was
04:38 Probably 14 or 15 was when I the idea really crossed my mind that I wanted to go back and I talked to my mom and my dad and you know, we decided that I was probably too young but it that I should definitely write a letter to my adoption agency and tell them that I'm interested in going back and if they know of any biological family relatives who were still alive or who were still around and I kind of slacked on that for a couple years and then about a year ago, I wrote a letter to the adoption agency and just requested that they do a biological birth family search and I was you know, I had emails and I write to the Man In Charge saying did you find anything out yet, you know and
05:23 At the same time trying not to get my hopes up because I didn't want to get really excited and be let down if it didn't happen. And so then when I turned 20, I decided that I really seriously wanted to go back to Korea and we had some family friends who had done a very similar trip where their son was adopted from South Korea and they went back and we found a store called Homeland tours that took families over there and signed up for it in the woman who was leading. It happened to be my social worker who brought me over on the airplane 20 years ago from South Korea. And so we just felt that that was a really good sign that this trip was going to be amazing. And when you were little every night, we would tell the story about how we had to we wanted a baby and want to get the best baby in the world. And so we hate looked everywhere and finally met Kim and Kim went to Korea and brought you back and so is pretty remarkable when we found
06:23 Again, we hadn't heard from her in almost 20 years and then we found her on the internet that she was taking tours back to Korea. And so we signed up with to go with her and I just felt that everything having to do with the trip was a really good sign that we had only for families going including us and I just I feel more comfortable with a smaller more intimate group of people and I just I felt I felt was the right time where I was old enough. I wasn't in school at the time. There was nothing keeping me from going and I just felt so, you know strongly in my heart and my soul that I I need you to go back regardless of whether or not I got the answers I was looking for but just to see the see the place that I was born and just see the culture experience everything we had talked about going all of your life. We kept saying that we would go but
07:23 I wasn't going to pursue it until you were really ready and you were really ready. So when when you got there, and we're at a lot about different stories about Korea and tried to learn a lot, but I did it feel once you got there you were surrounded by so many places that are different and yet everyone looks sort of like you.
07:48 Kind of in shock I think and just overwhelmed and excited because it was a huge City huge new place and it's so busy and you know, just to just to see if you create characters up on store signs or on buildings was just very strange very new but it felt very comfortable and just I was very he's walking around and just seeing all these people who looks like me because me and it's not an extremely they were astounded we don't have a lot of Asian people and so I've always been used to be in the minority which isn't a bad thing. But when we went to Korea and I would see all these people I just remember staring at them because their eyes just captivated me because you know, I don't have the creases in my other didn't have the American eyes and I just remember staring at
08:48 Wow, that's so need. It was cool that the other kids on the trip to just travel with a four or five other Koreans also found with so much in common of you know, just mosquitoes bite swelling and they're all your eyes are almond-shaped or you know, we just found similar quirks, but they weren't that big but they meant so much to us just because none of us could really ever, you know, I had other friends who were Korean or doing something like this experience. So going over there you did not think you were going to meet your biological family. In fact all that. You knew was what was on your adoption papers which had a mother's name in the father's name and said they were not married and and then we were told that they didn't think they could find him. So then what happened?
09:48 I remember being very disappointed but try not to show it because we got our itinerary for the trip. And every other person was going to meet a biological relative and I was the only one who wasn't going to and so I was really feeling disappointed but I was like, I'm going to put on a good face and I'm just grateful that I'm going and the third day of our trip. We took a train to Busan which is where I was born. And I remember I was coming out of the bathroom and walking back to Pizza Hut and you came towards me and that you were walking at a Brisk pace and I was thinking I wonder what just to tell me and you came up and you took my shoulders and you said your biological father wants to meet you and I was just kind of shocked for a second. It's like time stops moving because I couldn't comprehend. It just came out of nowhere and I was like,
10:42 She really wants to meet me. I mean over and over again. I just I couldn't believe it. I could not believe that this thing that I had wished for my whole life was happening and I was screaming and crying and jumping up and down in the middle of the subway station. And then we went back to Pizza Hut in the whole group was Dino clapping and I was just so excited and shaking and Kim are some of my social worker said you also have an older brother and you have to stare you have another brother and two sisters and I was like are they older than me or the younger than me know I just didn't know but I was so excited because every little girl hopes to have family, you know, when I have a younger sister and I have an older sister and a brother now, but
11:29 You know, there's this other part of me that I didn't know about and I always kind of hoped and so I was just so excited so overwhelmed and just freaking out and then I asked him I said, you know, what about my biological mother and she said you really want to know in my heart kind of dropped them into my stomach because I I could tell something was a good catch something good wasn't coming. And I said, yes, and she said your mother passed away during childbirth. And so that was really hard because immediately I thought that it was my fault that she had passed away and I became really scared and nervous that my brother and sisters and my father were going to be upset with me because I took it taken away their mother.
12:15 You know whenever I had heard that or when you hear something and you're like it's not your fault, you know, it's not your fault. I knew it wasn't my fault, but I
12:25 Couldn't get rid of that feeling and so, you know you and the other parents there was just comforting me saying it's not they're not going to be mad at you if they're not going to hate you but I remember being really nervous about that and but then I come down. I just hope for the best and
12:45 So then two hours past and we went in two hours past and then we went to change and I love you even into Starbucks and took a whole batch that we went to the district office in Tucson. And I remember walking up the stairs and I was just sweating bullets and I could not Google it cool off and we walked up there and into the room and the first person that I saw it with my brother who look like a rock star glasses and hair slicked back and you know, I didn't know what age they were but they were all older than me and I remember looking at him and then I look to the left and I saw two girls who are my sisters and then I saw my dad in the back behind them and I saw a little girl who is immediately thought that's my friend. She's my sister's daughter and I hug my sister's first and we'll just started crying I mean
13:41 I was just so happy and just I can't describe how I felt. I mean there there's just there aren't words, but I was just
13:54 Filled with happiness and relief and it was like 20 years of my life just came down all together at that moment as I examine.
14:10 Then I remember looking at my dad and not really knowing what to do if I should bow to him or if I should hug him and
14:18 I just hugged him. I didn't know what else to do and we were just crying and crying and
14:23 And we sat down and I showed them baby pictures of me and pictures of me growing up. And one thing I've always wanted to know is where my thumbs came from because my thumbs are very wide and flat and you know, no one else really has some like that and so I assume that they came from a biological relative. And so I asked you know, does anyone have them like me and they all start funeral and my brother put his thumbs out and looks like we have the same thing and then it was so exciting such a big deal and that had to be one of the highlights of the trip because you know, it always wanted to know that and you know right away my brother and I had a very special bond. There's just something there a little more and I just give us a mole on your face do mole on the face. I just adore beauty mark, we look the most alike and
15:17 She just I respect him so much just because he really took care of the family being the oldest sibling and I mean, they're all they're just so wonderful for the whole family. It's just I got there just such great people. So then we were talking to them but through a translator Kim not tonight. Our social worker is there and then at one point you apologize to I did Ice. I asked him to tell them that I was so sorry.
15:47 And that their mother got was taken away as a result of my birth. And I said, I'm so sorry and I just I didn't know these things but I hope that you're not angry with me. I just hope that you forgive me for and what was your dad's response and they said it's not your fault over and over. We love you. It's not your fault. We never once thought that you were to blame for this about what happened what happened a little bit. It was still a little unclear. But what apparently it happened to my mother in the hospital was she had a C-section with me and lost a lot of blood and needed a blood transfusion. So during that that time the hospital gave her the wrong kind of blood and none of the other family members were aware of it and
16:35 3 days after I was born she passed away and it was this huge shock to the whole family my aunt actually had gone home to get her some rice cakes, which were her favorite snack at the time and watches at home. They got the call from the hospital that she had died and she was very healthy. They said the first three days until the transfusion, but I was with her the entire three days. They said she held me the whole three days. I was that she was alive and I was with her when she died and then right after that the priest came and took me away and put me in a Welfare Society. They put you up for international adoption came into town and then it was a blur at the other places of the time when we were talking so your dad was on a ship out at Sea and he came in and his wife was dead and the baby was born but
17:35 The nuns all said there was actually only
17:41 Two family members that got to see me and that was my brother and my aunt one of my mother's sisters who saw me and your father sister never the one who came to the light on others also, and they
17:57 Anna Faris, that they just yeah, they they came he signed the papers then he he went home. He said to get you a lock it so you could take it with you, but you were already gone and he said he couldn't get the information. So he been looking for you for twenty years to remember. He told me that he used to watch the TV show for missing missing people just to see if I show up because but all they knew was my last name was Kim and a new hospital is born. They didn't know my name. I wasn't named yet. My mom thought I was going to be a boy and I was born.
18:34 And I'm at my Aunt later on and I just remember.
18:40 She told her translator who told me that when my other when my brother got married. That was really the first time that the family the two family sides had been reunited and that my dad went up to my aunt and said if I die before
18:55 We find megatarp before I find my daughter. Will you please keep searching for her and she said yes, of course and so and then I came and it was a gift to everybody call for everybody. So then so then you got to spend some time with your brother and sisters and go out to dinner and he showed us a great time fun and I can see immediately where I get you know, my kind of outgoing side from and they just they love to laugh and the joke and they're just so you can just tell that they were raised in a great loving family because
19:36 I mean
19:38 It was just incredible people spend time with these people and just look at them and say oh my gosh, you're my sister. You're my brother. So then the next day so then that night we all went out to dinner and then the next day the next day we went to my mother's grave site, which was about an hour away and cousins came in from Hell over and I met two of my cousins once 3126 and I remember I kind of jumped on them and gave them these great big hugs, but you don't do in Korea and
20:13 They drove 5 hours just to take us to the grave site. I guess they haven't been back there in a long time so might I think part of that was cuz the oldest brother couldn't go until the eldest cousin then had to come it's all that was their role. Is it some one of the males have to head to be there your father was there but also since your brother couldn't go he arranged to have your eldest cousin come with us, and we went to this huge cemeteries is beautiful and they have these flower stands along the road that you can buy bouquets for men. They're gorgeous, but they're fake but it's actually really nice because then they don't die and it the field is just lit up with different color flowers until we got there and it was kind of funny because that we couldn't find the right grave site at first cuz they can't remember the number and it's not it's like a wild Hillside.
21:13 Motor really not really kept and then finally we found it and my cousins like whack the weeds away and there were some flowers there. But we we brought some to put on her gravestone and one of my sisters was able to come with her daughter and took her son sick and we put she told me how to put like a tarp down and then she showed me how to bow traditionally to the grave and so we did that twice and then I just, you know was crying and just you know, put my hand on her gravestone and since it was you who gave me a hug and now my hand over there and
21:58 I didn't actually see this but you told me about this that when we were going I have my head down all of a sudden all these dragonflies came around hundreds of just a big cloud of them. I mean you saw them. I did my head was down but I take that as a good luck sign so we bought a dragonfly magnet while you're there and it was really good. I just
22:26 I wanted to go and see her grave site because I thought it would be a nice gesture and a nice way of a nice way of closure for me having not ever known her but just finding out this information. It was really really important to me. And so I was really really grateful that we were able to go. There was a very big deal and for a family to come and take us there. I mean, I was just so grateful. I couldn't even tell them how grateful I was.
22:54 But I think they knew I think they know it could understand how how important was to me.
23:06 So when you were growing up in Oregon, what did you think that your life was going to have any of be influenced by being by Korea or by being Korean? I mean, the only thing I thought about was maybe that I would work with foreign adoption because I did a lot of reports on it during school, and I was just very interested in.
23:32 Because I didn't I didn't really know too much about it. So I did a lot of research and I just thought it was I think it's just such a good thing in general just the idea that you can adopt a baby from another country and give him a good life here and going to having I'll do that experience. I just really thought it was an amazing, you know amazing job or just something if it needs doing so I was interested in that but I really didn't have any idea that Kurt that going to Korea. I was going to influence me so much my life having gone there and then phone finding out about your particular situation.
24:12 How do you feel about them putting you up for adoption? Or I'm so glad that I was raised in the US because I was adopted by a wonderful family. I mean I got so lucky and thank you for such a loving family to in Korea and
24:34 You know it I can't be sad. I can't have any anger towards these people because now that I know my story I just am so grateful that they were able to make a decision like that because it was an unexpected event that happened but they made the right decision as hard as that may have been, you know, I was able to go back to them and I mean how amazing is that in?
24:59 I just I have to say I hold no hard feelings. No grudges that more than anything. I'm just grateful that they are okay, and they're healthy and then I got to meet them.
25:13 And you know, thank you to both families. They made dinner with my family in Korea made of very hard but good choice for me. And I knew I was going to have the best life that I can have by going through an international adoption and then to my family here. I mean you guys have just shown me nothing but love and compassion and just respect and I couldn't have asked for a better way of growing up and something that was always been that was always really important to me was that you guys you and my dad always really respected and encouraged my decision to go back to Korea or do you want to know about it? Nothing was ever kept a secret so
25:53 That's where I stand on that.
25:57 Let's see. So do you feel different now that you're back after having had that experience? I mean, how could you not but I mean in what ways does it the social worker said it takes at least three months to readjust your life back in the US absolutely, right? I was a mess the first month or two. I mean I was I would cry myself to sleep every night and I just felt good to be home and see my friends but I I felt sort of more out of place here after coming back from Korea because I was used to seeing everyone around me and I was also everyone around me looking like me it how long have you been home three months and
26:43 It was really really hard for me to adjust when I got back. I missed my family. I just found out I felt I felt like part of my heart had just been ripped out. It was like I found out these wonderful people this family. I never knew I had and then they're taken away from me in.
27:02 Today's C&L
27:06 And so I was
27:09 I was so caught up in in the vacation or one of the beds. I've been to Korea that I I think that kind of help me back.
27:16 But it was just a feeling of being caught between two worlds and I didn't know where I belong and it was like I never felt so out of place before in my life.
27:27 So that was really hard and now I've now I've started to adjust more to being back but I know definitely that after having visited there. I would like to move back there for any amount of time. I'm hoping I'm planning on doing us and exchange their with Southern Oregon University and Jansen University. I don't know whether for a year or 6 months and then
27:56 Would like to either teach English in an elementary school in Korea or work in the orphanages with babies and children there a lot of orphanages. I'm not sure which one I think the orphanages would be my first choice though because I just fell in love with those kids and there is nothing more. I would love to do then just be with them all day to do different social world are on why children are placed in the orphanages. I mean, I love kids. I want to work with kids and babies and I just
28:36 I want to do something good for other for other people and just after seeing things there after hearing, you know, the sad stories about these children you were going to be in orphanages all their life. I just feel like that's what I that's where I need to be.
28:54 So one of the things they that your relatives talked about was there feeling badly that they were not able to take care of you. Everybody was in different situations after after your mother died and one aunt was already trying to raise children on their own and was having a difficult time. Your grandmother was pretty old and there was an uncle that was had one leg and worked on a farm or something but they didn't think that would be such a good thing. But so that way it was very difficult for them to and it seemed like such a gift for them to see you and see how well you're doing that you wanted to come back and meet them and that you were accepted them. So
29:36 And I can I can fully appreciate all the day we're feeling I mean, I just that you are a gift in the end. They would tell me thank you for taking her, you know for taking care of her and and they were so surprised that to me you are the gift that I was given and they just thought I was taking care of it was like a job or something. But I think that I conveyed to them that it to me you were the gift I meant I wasn't able to have children at the time and and all I wanted was the best baby in the world and brought you over.
30:11 They did. I definitely saw how their appreciation but also how he no. Sorry they were and I told you know, I told him I was like I
30:24 You know you made the right decision, you know, and I don't want you to ever have bad feelings are guilty feelings or anything and that I'm just so grateful that you were willing to meet me. I mean, it really was kind of disdain going back and forth on you know, I feel bad now I feel worse than
30:44 So do you feel like
30:47 Going back turned out to be a most wonderful thing. It's not always from all the kids to go back. And so you have friends that are adopted from Korea and knowing how wonderful your story was and seen how nuts wonderful some of the other some of the other kids faced on the same trip that we were on. What would you tell your friends?
31:14 It might be like Kiki or somebody else who was adopted who hasn't gone back yet or hasn't shown interest or just for some whatever reason for me would I can only convey what I felt and that was that is the most incredible experience in my life and that there is nothing I would change about it that it was everything. I had more than I had ever hoped for in sounds cliche, but it really is and to them I can only tell them you know, there is nothing like meeting family or just seeing where you're from, you know, you just feel an instant connection to the country. You were born in the place you were born in and I would say you definitely need to be ready in your mind and your heart and ready to go and be ready to handle and deal with different situations, but
32:09 It's just as whole other life incredible. I would recommend it to anyone, you know, especially my Korean friends have been adopted. I would say pursue it just you know, or try it and just see how it goes because
32:25 You know this whole other life and even if you aren't ready to
32:29 Explore it, you know just to acknowledge it or open a little bit of something, you know, and what about two other the idea of just being placed and they're trying to work on I think they called The Hague protocol in by a certain year. They don't want to have any foreign adoptions, but it's so against the social mores in Korea right now to adopt and so but they're going to they're trying to change that and get Koreans to adopt these Korean babies who are getting up or to make it more acceptable for single parent to have a child.
33:02 What do you feel like I mean that would make a different world for you. If you had do you think that it's wrong to be placed in a country you weren't born in?
33:16 Adoption agencies know what kind of family what kind of families do need to find and
33:27 I just I I don't think that the place matters where you grow up as long as you're in a loving family and a place where people are going to care for you because most of the time when you're when you're put up for adoption, actually, I can't say that but I can say that your life is hoping to be a lot better living with the family really loves you and takes care of you then being in foster care your whole life. I don't think that's the location really matters, but that's really just me speaking for myself. I can't speak for others. See I forget that we look any bit different and I remember when
34:04 I first started going out with Brad. And you said he doesn't look like us she had red hair and I felt the same way. I mean, we're just used to you know, you don't see with the physical traits specifically, you know, I didn't I didn't really realize the difference in physical appearance between us until it was pointed out to me and you know how people make remarks so, you know, that's your mom but to your real mom, that's what I was your real. Mom. I get that. Is she a real daughter you are my mother. I don't see it any other way. So stereotypes to go on for all types are all sure you'll be good in math. Is there anything that we haven't got into or
34:58 Do you have any ideas?
35:10 To see me. I mean with the brother with a brother and two sisters and a dad.
35:17 We hugged you as much as they absolutely I mean I know and I found out I now have seven kids instead of four. Of course. I was very nervous to me. I was I was just so excited to meet them. I just couldn't believe it for me. It was more than anything I could imagine it was I knew that you had come from a loving background. I knew just because of who you are that you had to have been.
35:47 Conceived in such love and meeting them and seeing how funny they were and how they laughed all the time. I mean it just it it made you more complete to me.
35:58 And I have to say that knowing that your mother died. And that was the only reason that you were given out. That was for no other reason but it also I guess in some respects. There's no competition for me as being your mother. Not that I know. I don't know. I don't know how I would feel you know, if there were two of us dying to be your mother. Whatever I would assume I would just welcome it as much as I could welcome the rest of that family as they were just wonderful.
36:27 But I was it was funny cuz it just all seems so real that this is the this is Speck on tooth came from there was no question that it had to have been something so positive and loving well we did get
36:42 This scroll from the adoption agency and it says Legacy of an adopted child and there's just one part it says.
36:50 I remember the exact wording but one brought you into this life and one raised you your light your whole life. And yeah, you know, she she brought me into this world and I'm sure she would have been nothing short of incredible mother but you're my mom and I have a dad here and I have sisters and I have a brother and to me that's the only family that I have these people are. Yes, they are biological family, but they haven't seen me grow up. They don't know everything about me. They don't know stories. Are you no accidents or anything that have happened so that you're part of them to it is so wonderful all the cousins and aunts and uncles that we met everybody knew about you except your sister who just found out about you a few years ago. She wasn't the youngest anymore. She was mad.
37:50 Is being the older sister or one of the older siblings and I was you know, kind of enjoyed being in the little the little sister spots and your brother adored. Yes. I have to say just the entire experience of going back to South Korea with unbelievable and I would do it again in a heartbeat and I'm just so grateful for having met all these wonderful people and just so do you think of yourself as a different type of korean-american now or
38:22 Would you even say korean-american would you say American? What would you say if somebody said?
38:27 On the form you had to put down your ethnicity.
38:31 Oh, you're Asian Korean, right, you know, but yours are so true blue American they're supposed to me.