Birth Mom Count Down

It’s official, I will be meeting my birth mom on June 18th at 2:00pm.  And I have to say I’m getting more nervous every day.  The initial excitement is definitely still there, but it’s this fear of the unknown.  Who knows what I’ll find out about my birth family, and who knows what they’ll think of me?

I wish I could stay longer but it’s not in the cards for this trip.  But I know there will be chances to see her again.  Part of me knows that when I get there and meet her I’m not going to want to leave.  I also don’t know if she will be coming alone or with family.  I’m guessing she’ll be alone just because I don’t think she’s told the rest of her family yet and it’s likely that it will take a little while for her to figure out how to do that.

The last puzzle I have left to figure out is what to get her as a gift.  Some people have said that a photo album is good.  I will definitely bring that, but besides that I have no idea what to get her.  It’s like, I want something that will be meaningful to her.  But I don’t know her!  I don’t know what she likes, how she thinks etc.  Some adoptees have said “be ready for money from your birth mother.”  I know that is a possibility, but I will feel horrible if it is the case.  And yes I know, it would be rude for me not to take it, but it just doesn’t sit well with me.

Anyways, I’m looking for gift suggestions from other adoptees.  Anyone had positive experiences with certain types of gifts, or have thoughts on what I should bring?

My last question is how I should document my trip.  Like I said, it will be a very short trip-literally a few days, no joke!  I don’t want to video tape it, but should I bring a digital recorder?  Is that ok, would that be rude?  I just don’t want to miss a single thing.  I want to keep a record of it and possibly have someone help me translate it if possible.  Has anyone done this sort of thing before?  I know some decide to make documentaries, some are more public than others.  But is this something I should consider doing?

Thanks for your thoughts!  -GS


4 Comments on “Birth Mom Count Down

  1. Hi! So, I am Korea adoptee who will be traveling to Korea at the end of June to meet my birth mother & birth father (individually, they’re not married). I too am trying to figure out gift ideas for my birth mother (my birth father is easy, because he has some particular things he’s into)…

    Here are some of the suggestions given to me by other “native Koreans” and Korean adoptees who have gone through the same process:

    Jewelry (a watch, bracelet, necklace, etc. possibly inscribed with something meaningful–gold has been recommended, but a Korean friend of mine said Koreans view American gold as poor quality…but she also said that since it would be coming from me, it would be special to my birth mother…)


    A nice handbag/purse

    Lancome make-up is popular among Korean women (but again, don’t know what your Korean mom is into…and coming from you that might be a bit strange, I guess…?).

    Those are some initial suggestions I’ve received. Of course, I was also told to bring photos, which is a given.

    I’ll ask some of my Korean friends more specifically if they have suggestions of gift ideas that would be good for a son, in particular, to give to his birth mother and get back to you…

    Hope that helps a little–even if just to give you a place to start…

    I’m thrilled and nervous for you also, and can relate to the simultaneous excitement and fear of the unknown…I’ll be in Korea almost exactly a week after you meet with your birth mother…we arrive on June 25th and are scheduled to meet each birth parent individually on June 26th.

    In my small opinion, documenting a reunion trip is a very personal choice and perhaps should be done in the way that is most comfortable to you.

    Although my husband and I are bringing a camera and video camera with us…I, in some ways, feel very protective about our first meeting, and want it to be private. But I also want to be able to have record of our time there…I also feel conflicted about how to chronicle the trip…I don’t want to take away from the moment by being too obsessed about making sure I have a record of it…if that makes any sense…

    We’re going to be there for 12 days, though, so we’ll have time to take photos and videotape during that 12 days. Anyhow, sorry, this is a really long “comment.”

    I wish you all the best, and am anxious to hear about how this journey unfolds for you…

    (P.S. a fellow Korean adoptee with whom I correspond directed me to your blog…)

  2. I think out of all the things I have given my 엄마, she treasures the photos the most. The more, the better. I’ve sent her prints, digital files, and I’ve also made photo books (you can have them printed online at Kodak Gallery, Shutterfly, etc.), which she enjoys.

    Jewelry is a good idea, but like Melissa said above, Koreans tend to be rather picky about gold. A nice pendant that she could put on her own chain is one idea.

    Also I’ve also given her some coffee table books about the cities/states I lived in. I’m not sure exactly how special my 엄마 considered them compared to some other types of gifts, but I think she appreciated being able to see where I had called home.

    I think a digital recorder is perfectly acceptable, not rude at all. It could be viewed as much less “invasive” than a video camera. Like you said, you don’t want to miss anything, and you’ll be occupied enough, just being in the moment.

    My thoughts will be with you, GS! I hope your reunion goes well. You have all my support!

  3. So, I got some more feedback from another Korean friend about good gifts for a Korean mom. She confirmed some thing previously suggested but got more specific, such as Lancome night cream and a nice purse/handbag. Seyoung said that although those are kind of generic gifts, she said that they’re “you can’t go wrong” kind of gifts.

    Other suggestions she made (And they may be strange, but she really emphasized that they would make good gifts for a Korean mom):

    Vitamin supplements, ie, Multi-vitamins, vitamin E oil, fish oil, and glucosamine chondroitin (Other Korean friends have mentioned these items before, but I had forgotten because they just seemed like such strange gift ideas, but I guess they’re legit, cuz people keep telling me this…)

    Coffee (particularly hazelnut flavored and/or “Choice” instant coffee)

    Honey with a piece of the honeycomb in it

    Anything local, like some kind of local souvenir, to where you live (T-shirt, hat, travel mug, postcards, etc.)

    And of course, Seyoung also mentioned a scrapbook or album of photos including photos from all stages of life.

    Okay, so hopefully that helps!

    Take care.

  4. Thanks all of you for your suggestions! The photos is definitely a given. I’ll have to think about some of these items a little more. Maybe I’ll put a gift basket together of different stuff? I’m also not sure if other relatives will show up so maybe it’s better to bring a bunch of stuff just in case.

    And of course why oh why do Koreans like Choice instant coffee so much?!!? Especially Hazelnut. I remember this from the last time I was in Korea. Those coffee machines were all over!

    Keep the suggestions coming; I can use all these good ideas!

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