What you can become depends upon what you can overcome. – Anthony Douglas Williams
Today, I have chosen not to include a general topic related to travel information or budget backpacking, but today, I have chosen to share an intimate part of my life. This is the story of my adoption and being reunited with my birth mother, where it has been close to 31 years, 9 months, and roughly 8 days since the last time my birth mother has seen me. And, for as much of my life through my backpacking and travel experiences has become public on the Internet, for those that know me best I still tend to remain a relatively private person. While I have not shared this story with many, it has been a long time coming, so please enjoy my adoption story.
It all began around the Summer of 2011, when I started the process and search for my birthparents with Jan Dunn from Dillon International. Prior to doing this, I spoke extensively with both my adoptive parents and with both of my sisters, whom are also Korean adoptees, however none of us are blood related, and as I had hoped everyone was very supportive in my desire to locate and hopefully be reunited with my birthparents.
The celebration of my second birthday ocurred four months later on May 21, 1982 at Stapleton International Airport in Denver, Colorado as I was born to Karen and Dale Hendershott and given the name Troy. I had your typical childhood growing up in the Colorado suburbs; riding bikes with neighborhood friends, participating in all of the various pee-wee sports programs, arguing and teasing my sisters, and of course being taught that there is no other team than the Denver Broncos. I did, unfortunately, experience many negatives situations that I often kept hidden from my parents, because I felt as though they could not possibility relate. It was everything that you could imagine–being made fun of as people brought their fingers to their eyes sloping them at you, the verbal racial slurs, bowing or making stereotypical gestures or comments as a form of mocking you, plus a variety of other things just because of how I looked physically. That’s why I continue to say that it’s very difficult, if not nearly impossible, to explain to others how it feels to be a Korean adoptee specifically.
Finding it difficult to sleep–as most of us did, I climb out of bed around 7:40am and after a hot shower I begin to organize my things together for a day that I already know I will never forget. Checking to make sure my camera and iPhone are fully charged, I head downstairs and find Mikey from California, but originally from Fort Collins, Colorado, as well as the twins from New York, Danielle and Kaitlynn, all sitting around the kitchen table. Yawns abound as feelings of mixed emotions and excitement are coupled with strong cups of coffee. Just before 9am the four of us are lead out by Crystal and we take the 15-minute walk to the ESWS headquaters. Since there is an organized itinerary for all of us that are participating in the Home to Home Program, we are sectioned into four groups. I believe that this is due to the limited number of volunteers that are acting as translators. Fortunately, I suppose for the sake of nerves, I am in group #1 along with my brekkie mates. As we walk along the bustling city street, Kaitlynn says that this part of the city reminds her of Queens in New York. I tell her that I agree as I spent time a few weeks staying in Rego Park back in 2010 when my friend Kevin’s brother and his wife lived there and we went to visit over the Summer. We begin discussing who we are expecting to meet, and I am surprised when the twins from New York are meeting both their mom and their sister which is their triplet. Mike has an older brother that has been to Korea before and has already met their biological family, so he was taken around the city last night with one of his brothers and today was meeting both his mother and father plus a few other family members. I tell everyone that I am unsure if my half brother and half sister will be joining my mother today or not. Before we know it, we are standing outside of Eastern and for the rest of the group this is their first time seeing the large banner that hangs on the outside of the building.