Friday, March 2, 2007

Congratulations, Toby Dawson!

Breaking News: Toby Dawson Finds his Father

Seoul, South Korea (Ski Press)-In the coolest story of the day department, the Associated Press reports that former US freestyle skier and 2006 Olympic bronze medalist Toby Dawson has found his father.Dawson, who retired from professional skiing last spring, was famously asked more questions about his adoption than about his medal after winning Olympic bronze. That news played heavily in South Korea, where Dawson was lost in a South Korean market more than 20 years ago. Later adopted in the US, Dawson has sorted through dozens of false claims of parenthood. It is only now, according to the AP, that through genetic testing and background research into the claims, that Dawson was able to finally meet his family.According to the AP, Dawson and his father, Kim Jae Su, embraced, "and Dawson said a Korean phrase he had learned for the meeting - "I've been waiting a long time, father.""

For more:

St. Petersburg Times Article:

Olympic success helps skier find dad

By ASSOCIATED PRESSPublished March 1, 2007

SEOUL, South Korea - Far from the mountain where he skied to Olympic fame, Toby Dawson found his family.

More than two decades after he was lost in a South Korean market and eventually adopted in the United States, Dawson was reunited with his father Wednesday.

They embraced, and Dawson said a Korean phrase he had learned for the meeting - "I've been waiting a long time, father."

Hugging his son at a hotel, Kim Jae Su teared up.

"I am glad to meet my son and see that he has grown up so wonderfully," Kim said. "I am thankful that he has come to look for me even after such a long time."

The reunion, which included a brother, was made possible by the bronze freestyle skiing medal Dawson won at the Turin Olympics last year. The victory earned him wide attention in the country of his birth.

After the Olympics, dozens of would-be parents came forward to claim Dawson was their child, including Kim. But after years of dashed hopes, the 28-year-old Dawson put off an earlier planned trip to Korea and waited for confirmation from genetic tests before traveling here this week.

Dawson was 3 when he was lost in a market by his mother in the southern port city of Busan, Kim said. A truck driver at the time, Kim said it was too late when he got home to start searching for his missing child, whose original Korean name was Bong-seok. Over the next few days, he said he scoured local orphanages but was unable to find his son.

"I went to many orphanage houses only to hear that they didn't have anyone like him. They wouldn't let me come inside and look for him," the 53-year-old Kim said, adding he searched orphanages whenever he had time but eventually gave up.

"I'm not here to beat him up for what happened," Dawson said, adding that he had a fortunate life growing up with his adoptive parents, who were ski instructors in Vail, Colo.

Dawson said he plans to use a new foundation he is starting to help avoid cases like his in the future.

"Being caught in limbo between two different countries and not looking like your family is going to be tough," he said. "We need to try to keep our children and work a little bit harder to keep these circumstances from happening."

Dawson noted how he shared his healthy sideburns with his father, who during the news conference reached over several times to touch Dawson's face while they also held hands.
Kim declined to talk publicly about Dawson's biological mother.

[Last modified March 1, 2007, 01:11:48]

There were so many articles written about Toby Dawson reuniting with his biological father this week. And I pretty much have read every single one of them.

There was this huge emotional mix-up while reading all the articles, and hearing what each news article had to say.

One: I was happy for Toby. It's this closure to the biggest chapter in an adoptee's life and he had found the ending of that chapter, and the beginning to a whole new one.

Two: I was sympathetic immediately, and was overjoyed when Toby was quoted as saying that growing up he found it very difficult, like "living in two very different worlds". So many adoption agencies and adoptive parent groups keep saying that the child will get over it, the child will adapt and assimilate. But it's not that easy. It's never going to be. To have someone in the media spotlight state that outright is amazing to me, especially with all this Angelina-Brad Pitt-Madonna crap going on.

Three (and this is the one that is the hardest for me to admit): Jealousy. Just sitting here reading the story, and how Toby hugged his father and spoke to him in Korean - wow, well I don't know what else to say besides the fact that I wish it was me. It's hard for anyone who isn't an adoptee to fully understand - especially my parents - but I just felt this tinge of pain in my heart because there is this huge loss there that I will never be able to fill. I won't even say "until I meet my birthparents" because who knows? What if it isn't as successful as Toby's journey? Not everyone's is. But just the thought that at least he knows something is enough for me to feel jealous - that I don't have anything. As far as I know, my whole life history could be fictitious.

I feel bad that I felt jealous and still do a little. I am not sure how to explain how my feelings about my birth search has changed over the years from when I was a little girl, staring into the mirror and touching the features of my face: my eyes, my mouth, the shape of my jawline and wondering which one was my mother's and was that my father's nose? to being an adult, and not worrying so much about it anymore - and yet being completely and utterly aware of the void that comes with not knowing.

I am still scared of the search process. Not that it is difficult or tedious or anything like that. Moreso for my personal reasons, the emotional journey that it would entail from me. I realize that the journey would strip me completely if I let it, and I am not certain that I am emotionally strong enough for that yet. I do know that it is something I want to pursue, and when the time comes, it'll happen. But for now, I can be happy that a fellow KAD found his truths to end one chapter and begin another.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

I know how you feel babe. :) I very much want to do the same thing when I go to Korea. Perhaps we will be lucky. Don't give up.