The missing piece (part 3): My father's rejection

30 December 2020

By Johannes Lindgren

When I first got the message from the adoption agency that my birth father did not want to meet me, I thought that I must have scared him.

He probably thought I was coming back to ask him for money, or perhaps blame him for leaving me. Therefore, I made sure to communicate that I did not want anything from him, I did well on my own, and I was not planning to confront him in any way. I simply wanted to meet a person that I was biologically related to; see what he looked like, if there were any similarities between the two of us, and also ask him if he knew anything about my birth mother. Perhaps he had a photo of her.

The answer came back quickly from the agency; he was not scared of me ? he was scared that his family would find out about me. The fact that he once had a son had been kept a secret from his wife ? and from his daughters.

The sudden disappointment from my birth father's rejection was in an instant swept away by this new revelation. I had two (half) sisters! This new piece of information gave me a lot of joy, but it also put me in a moral dilemma. Should I contact my sisters? Would they be pleased to, at an adult age, gain a brother!? I would not know unless I contacted them. But if my birth father wanted to keep me as his secret, was it wrong to reveal myself against his will? Who has the moral right in this case? A man who wishes his son to remain a secret or the son who wishes to know his origins?

With all the information I had managed to gather from different sources and with today's social media platforms, it was not difficult to find my sisters online. I spent days trying to think of what to do. I had the chance to introduce myself to my sisters and let them know my story with only a touch on the send button ? OR ? regret for the rest of my life not taking this opportunity to contact my relatives.

At the same time, I did not want to create a mess for my birth father. I did not know enough about the Korean culture to predict what his family would think if his secret was revealed. After a lot of thinking, I very optimistically thought (and hoped) that once the surprise had settled, they would also find joy in gaining a lost brother ? a contact on the other side of the world. I hoped my sisters would feel pride in knowing that they were aunties to three nieces and a nephew.

So, I started to write an email to my sisters in which I explained who I was and why I was contacting them. Of course, they did not believe me. And who would have? When you are 25-35 years old and someone claims to be your big brother, you probably would be thinking it was a lunatic contacting you. They told me that I had confused them with somebody else and that they did not have any brother whatsoever.

But to convince them, I continued to give them information from the adoption papers about our father and about his history ? and I guess piece by piece they started to understand that what I was saying was true. Nevertheless, they did not dare confront their father with this information. Instead, we secretly kept in contact until the COVID-19 pandemic started in February. I have not heard from them since. I hope they are both OK and I wish them all the best.

In Sweden there is a TV show called "Without a trace" in which adoptees get help to travel back to their birth countries and find their birth parents, or what is left of their biological family.

There are, in fact, many others like me; adoptees who are curious to find out more about their past. The show often takes place in South America, Africa, Eastern Europe or Southeast Asia and the reunions are most of the time very emotional and joyous.

The birth parents, or other remaining family, are often happy to meet their lost child. In most cases the parents were too poor to feed their child and they did what they thought would give their child a better future. Many of the parents explain that the decision to do so was heart-breaking and that not a single day has passed without them thinking of their lost child.

I suppose this was the kind of happy reunion I had hoped for. Although I was a little disappointed, I still do not feel any anger against my biological father's decision. I think he probably tried his best at the time. And I am sure he does his best today toward his family. And even if I do not entirely understand the Korean culture and traditions, I do understand that sometimes you have to follow the rules the society sets up.

I think I have finally come to rest with this matter. I feel that I have done all I can in the search for my roots. And even if I have not been in contact with my birth parents, I have still made friends for life. Next time I go to Korea, when the pandemic is over, it will be without any need of trying to meet or find anyone. I would just like to bring my whole family and show them all what a beautiful country South Korea is and the things that make me proud of coming from there.

Johannes Lindgren ( is an entrepreneur and adoptee born in Korea, now living in Sweden.