It’s Happening

By: Julie Young

January 29, 2012

So, it’s really happening. She is coming.  My Omma is coming in March to stay with me for almost three weeks.  My oldest sister and my niece will accompany her.

When I first got the email from my niece saying they had bought their plane tickets, I freaked out a little bit.  I was annoyed because they bought the tickets without okaying the dates with me.  Something, I expressly requested they do.  Then I was annoyed because they are coming longer than the two weeks we had agreed upon.  I had mentally prepared for just two weeks.

After I calmed down a bit, I realized (rather easily) that my annoyance was really masked anxiety.  Yes, I wish they had asked me the dates but does it really matter?  I told them the month of March would work.  So do the actual dates really matter.  Probably not.  And this trip is something I have brought on all on my own.  I am the one who requested that my Omma come and visit.  Knowing that we would not be able to travel to Korea anytime soon, I knew the only way my children would be able to meet their halmoni (grandmother) would be for her to come to us.

Of course, when I asked her to come she said yes immediately.  In fact, because she was so enthusiastic about coming, I internally freaked.  Thinking I was not ready, I avoided the topic for a good year.  But this past Thanksgiving, for whatever reason, I was really missing my Omma.  I knew I had to do it.  Having my Omma stay with me is a real fear of mine, which is why I know that I have to take it head on – and just do it.

What do I fear?  Well, let’s see, I was adopted at the age of three.  Although my adoption papers said I was “abandoned” as many adoptees are told, I found out later that my Korean parents and my brother drove me to the airport to send me off to the United States.  I may have been abandoned but it was at the airport, not on some church steps, as we always imagined.  It would be thirty years later, in 2004, when I would see my Omma, two sisters and brother again.  It was an emotional trip but the total time actually spent with my family was probably no more than 20 hours.  I stayed in a hotel so I was able to get away.

Three years plus approximately twenty hours is all of the time I have ever spent with my Omma.

When my Omma comes here, I will not be able to get away from the exceedingly intense emotions that may arise.  There will be seven of us packed into my 1500 square foot, 2.5 bedroom apartment.  Where will everyone sleep?  Not sure but we will figure it out.  Mix  together two extremely energetic four year olds and my seventy-something year old Omma.  Not speaking the same language but somehow communicating.  It’s going to be interesting.

In many ways, this trip will be just as emotional for my oldest sister, Ji-Ae.  She was eleven when I was sent away.  She took care of me, carried me on her back.  Ji-Ae told me that when I was leaving to America, I said that I wanted her to go with me.  She is one of two of my Korean sisters.  My unnis.  I have a feeling she will be doing a lot of the mothering.

March 7th will be here before we know it.  It’s the Year of the Dragon folks.  My motto for the year is, “Let’s Go! Let’s Do It!”

to be continued…

Julie Young writes about her experiences as an adopted Korean American woman with a multi-racial family.  Julie’s column “Heart and Seoul” is published monthly.