To Search or Not to Search — That is the Question

A very good adoptee friend of mine has spent the entire 10+ years we have known each other searching for his biological family. He has done it all—TV appearances, DNA testing—he even found the bridge in Seoul where he was allegedly abandoned and the police station a good Samaritan took him to as an infant—all the way down to the police log recording his arrival at the station. But he has never been successful in finding out where he came from.

For some people, there comes a point where they have to ask themselves if it’s worth going through all the effort to find this missing piece in their life. It can be emotionally exhausting and frustrating.

Recently, this friend of mine has been given another public appearance/TV opportunity to look for his birth parents in Korea. He emailed me, asking if he should do it. After all these years, nothing has brought up any leads for him. In fact, the only thing these appearances seem to surface are opportunists claiming to be his birth family in the hopes that there is some monetary award associated with it all. That, he has told me, has been the most disheartening part of his search.

His wife is telling him not to take this latest opportunity because it will only set him up for more disappointment. She seems doubtful putting himself at the mercy of this television crew will be fruitful. (She’s been through this with him before many times before.)

He asked me if I were him and given this latest opportunity he has been given, would I go through with it?

What I didn’t tell him is the truth as it relates to my own personal comfort—no, I probably wouldn’t.

But here is what I did tell him:

When it comes to something as personal as this, the only person’s opinion that matters is your own. Will you regret not taking this opportunity? If so, then go for it and be able to move on regardless of the outcome. Is this something you feel uncomfortable doing and feel is not worth the potential risk of disappointment? Then stand by your principles. Regret—whether it is missing an opportunity or taking one you should have passed on—is a terrible feeling. Life is too short for regrets.

Follow your gut.

Knowing you, I think you’ve already made up your mind and are following your gut, which means you’ve made the right decision.

He emailed me back acknowledging that yes, he has made his decision and is following his gut. After reading my email, he thought a lot about regrets and how they truly are the worst things a person can experience in life. He realized he luckily has had few regrets so far and does not want this to be one of them.

I think asking that question—will I regret this later—is a good way to test whether or not you should do something, especially something that leaves you feeling vulnerable. Choosing to search or continuing an unsuccessful search for birth parents is such a personal decision that the only person who can determine if it’s worth the trouble is the adoptee—and no one else.

The filming of my friend’s search efforts will take place on August 27 in Seoul. He’ll send me a video clip as soon as it is available. I’m glad he’s following his gut on this one. Life is too short for missed opportunities.

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