“I remember you.” were the words my sister signed to me after we were finally reunited and as an adoptee who was “temporarily gone” from home for more than 18 years, ofc, I had questions to ask. “Do you remember me?” was one of those more immediate questions.
I remember when I was growing up, I’d often play sports with non-asian people, and during evenings with my parents, I watched TV. It was a good thing that TV had closed captioning and that it was always turned on. My parents were deaf too. My dad used to sell Zenith TVs, and had the big analog satellite in the backyard and installed a black box to access all channels like HBO. 4 pm to 5 pm was the reserved time for my mom to watch ‘Days of our Lives’ soap opera and she’s never missed an episode. If there was ever Jeopardy on the topic, she’d sweep the column.
I was their only child and as an only child, deep down inside, I’ve always felt that I couldn’t be an only child and felt strongly that I had siblings and by this, I often wondered about my birth family. It was quite like the movie, Star Wars, with Luke Skywalker sensing the Force with his sister, Princess Leia. That remained unknown till I received the news that my family had been discovered and that I indeed had a brother and sister. I was happy to know that. However, I still needed to confirm to make sure that they’re really my birth family (there were cases that required DNA testing to confirm, for example.) What’s more was that my sister is deaf, like me, so that vastly increased the odds that we’re family.
As I was visiting around in Korea, the mother took me to visit the orphanage where I stayed for about a year before I was adopted. The orphanage was one of those last memories I had in Korea and still could remember. I remember I played a lot with balloons—it made those loud sounds when you try to rub it. They had a high balcony with big windows and I would try to crawl up onto the balcony and see the world out there. Out in the world, there would be a white van coming up in front of the fence and then a man came around the van to the back and hauled something out of it and a white cloud of steam would come out. I had no idea what that was and I also remember that some of young faces would be missing, so I thought maybe the guy took them in and went somewhere.
The building still looked exactly the same as if it never changed except for the trees that had gotten bigger, like me. Built with red, auburn bricks, it had a small playground with swings inside the fence. I met up with Director who oversaw the orphanage. He was the same guy who took me in and one thing he said caught my attention was that I was the only deaf child they had and there hadn’t been another orphan after me who was also deaf. So, a further evidence that I was the same child that he had overseen. Then, I saw the white van coming up in front and a guy came around to get something out of the rear. It was food he was delivering to the orphanage. So much for kidnapping the children.
During one evening, I asked my sister if she remembered me. She said yes, and she was six years old when I had been taken away. She said she’d remember the orphanage, that place with red, auburn bricks. We actually had gone there a few times, as the parents debated whether to give me up and when that day came, my sister didn’t come with me. That information was never communicated by the parents but the absence of their youngest brother was obvious enough that he’s not going to be back anytime soon.
So, when I signed to my sister and she signed back at me, that was enough of a confirmation to know we’re family after all.