Saturday, April 11, 2015

John Park, a Domestic Korean Adoptee Story - Part 1

This article appeared on Ohmynews (Korean).  It was an interview of a domestically adopted Korean adoptee who has become a professional Christian musician.  The interview was done by Mr. Kim Ji Young.
The article shows the struggle that John had upon finding out that he was adopted while he was a teenager.  His rebellious life and events were very dynamic and eventually led to where he is.  It's interesting to read the heart and mind of an adoptee that went through such a tumultuous teenage years, and only to come to find himself through the loving parents that never gave up on him.

An Interview with John Park - Part 1

A Domestic Korean Adoptee Becomes a CCM Artist

By Kim, Ji Young  (김지영 기자, Ohmynews)

The original article appeared on (in Korean)

It was during the Winter break of his 8th grade year. He was in the thick of his adolescent years.  A cousin of his who was a year younger than him very cautiously broke the news one day.  It was the secret that was difficult for any 14 years old teenager to face.

 “John, from what I heard from my mother and father is…is that your parents are not the real ones. You were abandoned as soon as you were born and they adopted you.”

It was the truth that he could have responded with “What are you talking about? Don’t play a joke on me.” But his cousin’s words pierced his heart.  What was interesting was that it was during the time when he sometimes wondered, “Are they may real parents?”

He thought that anyone could be asking such question while living with parents, and he was in that stage of life. But as the words of his cousin flew into his heart and pierced him, he felt frozen.

Since young he was a mischievous boy. He received much love from his father who was a career military man and his mother a loving homemaker.  His father never spanked him and truly love him like his own son. He was their only child and a son.

One night he had an argument with his parents. He was deep into his teen years. And he let it out during the heated argument.  “I know it all. You are not my real parents. I heard it all. And that’s why you are doing this to me.” He used other words that he shouldn’t have uttered. He was thinking an expected response from them, “What are you talking about? Where did you hear such a foolish thing?”

But instead his mother dropped to the floor and just sat. And John’s heart also sank with a big ‘thud’. What was only a belief became a confirmed fact. Several minutes have passed. What disturbed the quite static air was his mother’s wailing cry.

On March 18, 2015 I met to interview John Park (40), a contemporary Christian musician (CCM) singer at the Bangbae-Dong district.  He was transferred to Holt Children’s Services only a day after his unwed mother gave birth to him.  And he was adopted by his parents a month later and is now a grown up adult adoptee.  He even had a chance to meet his birthmother a few years ago, and he continues to stay in touch with her. 

He was a singer, eight years into his marriage with three children. His life and all the things he has gained through the years, and his positive view of family was like a clear mirror that reflected the adoption of his past and that of the current days.

- So what happened after your mother cried?

“My Mom cried and she temporary stopped, and then started to cry again saying ‘John. It isn’t true.  I don’t know what you heard, but you are our son.  You are the son who is the gift of God to us.’  And then we all cried and it was a mess.”

- So did your life change after that incident?

“Actually from that day on…I became rebellious fast.  I knew the truth, but I could not accept it.  I could not accept the fact that my parents were fake, and what made me angrier was that all my relatives knew about it except me, and I felt so foolish because of it. Even without this particular experience, a teenager usually rebels a lot during his teen years. But for me it was much more than that and I really became rebellious.”

- For example?

“I was rebellious to no end.  I did not answer them, I fought them and I didn’t go home at nights, and when I did go home it was usually after playing around all night long with my friends, and I did not listen to them no matter what they said.”

- How long did this go on?

“It went on for a very long time.  Through my high school years to my early twenties.  But I knew. I knew how much my parents loved me and raised me. So at times I thought to myself that I shouldn’t be doing things that hurt them.  But no matter what, whenever I tried to say something, I said things to make them angry. I had a wicked heart.”

- What was the reason?

“I wanted to show them how angry I was and how I felt betrayed.  That this is how I am feeling – really bad. At times I wanted to die. Because I could not handle it, and I wanted to lay it on my parents so that they will suffer as well. Therefore I changed into an attack mode and did not go home, and hung around with lots of bad friends…”

- And you roamed the streets? And even got into some fights?

“Of course. Because there was a lot of anger in me.”

- What did your parents do in times of your rebellion?

“My mother cried every day.  I believe my father tried to encourage my mother to be strong.”

- Did your father drink?

“He usually didn’t, but when my Mom suffered he was always at her side to help her. They were both very harmonious with one another.”

- And your mother became weaker?

“She had diabetes.  But despite her weakness she ran a beauty salon.  She became weaker as she could not take care of herself, and I made it worse by being such a pain in her life, thus her weakness became worse rapidly.”

- So did you mature through the process? Or was there something that happened?
“It was the sight of my mother who was suffering so greatly because of me, and at the same time she did not speak a word of rebuke to me but just waited.  This moved my heart.  I married and became a father to my children, and I looked back to where I was.  Now I’m in the same place where they were.”
“If that happened to me I would have given up on my son. One could assume that a son, despite being raised in a loving family could experience some letdowns in life. But my mother never gave up on me. She only cried, and she said no words but only waited for me. And that could’ve been the hardest thing for her to endure…” (There was a slight tear welling up in John’s eyes).

- Did you have any curiosity about your birth parents, or longing or questions regarding them?

“At that time there was no longing but an anger filled my heart.  It was this. If she was going to abandon me why did she even give birth to me? Why did she bring such a misery into my life? It was a mixture of anger and hostility.  I believe it was largely those sentiments that drove me into a life of despair and rebellion.  But I was able to return to the normal life after a period wandering mainly through the tears, prayers, and quietness of my mother. At the time of my marriage I did think about my birth parents and wondered who they were, and whether they were still alive.”

He could not lose his mother doing nothing

After getting into a college on his third try, he took some time off to serve in the military.  Although he was later discharged, he had no desire to go to the college.  His majoring in business administration was not compatible with his personality.  While he was concerned about his future and what he would do in his life, one day he happened on a passage of a book ‘Do what you like best for your career’.

Ever since he was young he loved to sing. And he sang in front of many people. He came to the conclusion ‘I am most happy when I sing.’ So he started to go on several open auditions.  He even made some demo CDs and visited and auditioned in many agencies for about a year.

Even though he attended the church with his parents in the early years, he did not know that there was a Christian genre category in music. He gave auditions and sent demo CDs regardless of the genre.  One day he got an acceptance from two different agencies at the same time.  One place specialized in secular music, and another place specialized in the Christian music.  It was the time when his mother’s health was getting weaker.  So he conferred with his mother on what he should do.

But it was useless to ask his mother who has been a devout Christian all her life. He has never seen such happy face in all his life. The mother was so happy with the fact that her son was becoming a Christian singer who will praise God, and the thought of this made her so happy as if she was going to recover from her illness immediately. Of course he realized that it was he that made his mother’s health worse, and he saw no reason to decide any other way upon seeing how happy his mother was. This is how John Park became a CCM singer and he has walked this path for the past 15 years without wavering.

He has found a profession that he has always loved and enjoy, and he could also redeem and serve the parents that he gave such hard times during his youth.  However his mother’s illness became worse by day, and had to undergo blood dialysis.  Her condition reached a point where without an organ transplant there was no way for her to continue living, and it seemed that she was preparing her death. Even though she was on the list for the organ transplant, there was not enough time left for her even if the organ became available. 

When the suggestion was first made to have her undergo a transplant, she adamantly opposed it.  She had no desire to live like that.  She would not accept the transplant from a family member just to lengthen her life.  But this was not an acceptable solution. He could not bear the thought of losing her without trying something. After all, how she has lived and how she was victorious through it all, and now all they had to do was to enjoy one another and love the rest of her life. 

Through the tears he begged her to get the treatment.  He even asked a doctor to join him to encourage her to at least examine her condition.  But even for a family member, the chance of having a match is not that high.  There was almost no chance that his father would have a match, and John Park was out of the question because he wasn’t born from her.

All he cared was that he be able to calm her down and help her to overcome her reluctance to the surgery.  But the doctor did not realize that John Park was an adopted son. The examination was done and the results came out. For the doctor, it was an obvious result.  But for the rest of the family members it was an unbelievable result.

The doctor said, “Even among the family members the match is hard to come by, but your son has an exact match.  I think we should proceed with the surgery.”

(The story continues…)

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