Staying Strong for Aaron

Libby S. Niggli

College Student, Highland, Illinois

2012 Chodae Community Church Scholarship Recipient


I never thought a knock at a door could frighten me more in my life. Those three little pounds on the door had me frozen in my shoes, not knowing what was going to happen in the next few seconds. Eagerly, Aaron commands, "Libby, open the door" I do as I was told and slowly open the door to see Aaron's birth mother standing there.

When Aaron was told he would be meeting his birth mother when we went to Korea I was more than ecstatic for him. Aaron and I briefly talked about his feeling towards it, but I knew that meeting her would be life changing for him. He had said he was very very excited, but also nervous. Aaron didn't know what to expect from meeting her. However, he packed up pictures from his teenage years and baby years and was ready to fly across the country.

As the days in Korea passed, we were down to the final few days of the trip. Then one day, Ellen had said to me, "Libby, when we get to the hotel, you're going to stay back with myself, Mrs. Jo, and Aaron" My first thoughts were what did I do to get into trouble? I asked Ellen in return, "What for?" and she replied, "Aaron is meeting his birth mother." I nodded with a nervous feeling. The only thought running through my head was he is actually going to meet her.

We had little time to get ready before Aaron, Ellen, Mrs. Jo, and I had to be down in the lobby of the hotel. I walked down with Aaron, only wanting to hold his hand the whole time and tell him I love him no matter what happened after tonight, but I wanted to be strong for him. As we waited in the lobby I could tell he was nervous. He shook his leg and his eyes shifted from one Korean woman to another wonder if that was her. Ellen and Mrs. Jo shortly arrived downstairs to tell us that Aaron's birth mother had just arrived and ordered us to go back up to Aaron's room where Aaron's birth mother would meet us.

The wait felt like forever. Aaron anxiously sat on the bed, while the rest of us stood around and supported him. When we heard the knock, we all dashed our eyes at the door. In that instant, I was so thankful for Mrs. Jo and Ellen to be there with him. I walked to the door and welcomed Aaron's birth mother and social worker into the room. Closing the door behind them, I turn around and already see Aaron and his birth mother embracing each other's presence. Never in my life have I ever been part of something so special.

They sat down on a bed, holding on to each other as if they never wanted to let each other go. As Mrs. Jo and the other social worker translated for Aaron and his birth mother, I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that his birth mother is actually here. When he was told, however, that she has not been into contact with his birth father for a long time, that hurt him. He was upset but very determined to find him also. His birth mother answered the question all adoptees wonder: why. That story was especially hard for all of us to hear. The thought of Aaron not being here today was very hard for me to imagine.

As the mood had gotten a little lighter, Aaron's birth mother had asked who I was. Aaron said that I was his sister who was also adopted. She asked, "Did you meet your birth parents too?" and I replied, "No" looking down holding back tears. His birth mother noticed I was hurt so she pulled me in and held me like any mother would. It was so warming to know this woman just finding out I was Aaron's sister and still treating me as her own child. Aaron's birth mother proceeded to tell us that she has a daughter of her own too, Aaron's half- sister, who is the same age as me. She told us about her daughter and Aaron just took it all in. He wanted to know everything he could about his birth mother and her life.

After a while, Aaron's birth mother had admitted she was nervous to meet him and knew she wouldn't know what to say, so she wrote it all down a few nights prior to the meeting. Mrs. Jo translated the letter for us and Ellen made sure we were okay. The letter was very sad and had everyone in tears. It was difficult for Aaron to hear her apologize for giving him up, but he understood why. After we all wiped the tears away and contained ourselves, it was about time to meet up with the rest of the group to eat. However, Aaron's birth mother did not want to say good bye just yet, so she offered to take us out to eat.

Watching his birth mother give Mrs. Jo food first and feed everyone else before herself was very interesting to watch. She realized that Aaron is a very picky eater, and started to feed him herself. The bond and love between them was unbelievable. After eating the best Korean food I had ever had we headed back to the hotel. Ellen had suggested we Skyped our parents back home in America, so as Ellen, Mrs. Jo, Aaron, and his birth mother waited, I ran up to the room and set it up.

Aaron's birth mother kept thanking our parents for raising him to be the man he is today, and in return, our parents would thank his birth mother. My mom cried while she saw Aaron and his birth mother through the screen, as did I as I wouldn't have ever thought this possible to happen. Soon after we ended the Skype session, Aaron's birth mother requested to be alone with Aaron for the last hour she had with him. To respect her request, we said our good byes. Saying good bye to his birth mother was a lot harder than I thought. Being with Aaron through this made it feel like I had met my birth mother too. She was so loving and caring towards me that I felt like her daughter as well.

As I walked into the lobby, I held back tears. Everyone swarmed me with questions. "How did it go?" "What's she like?" "How's Aaron doing?" Though I wanted to answer everyone myself, I knew it wasn't right for me to tell them. Aaron should be the one to do that. Being asked all those questions had me on the verge of crying, just thinking about being able to meet her and be with Aaron through it all. After I thought I done crying, I turn to my right and see Aaron walking towards the group with his birth mother, hand in hand. Everyone knew right away that was his birth mother and it became quiet. No one knew how to react. Aaron and his birth mother approached me with hugs because I was crying. Then shortly after, I noticed Jennifer, a family friend of ours, was in tears as well. With the motherly instincts, Aaron's birth mother pulled her in and held her in her arms, wiping away the tears. I knew this would be the last time sees his birth mother, so the second time saying bye was emotional. After saying good bye, Aaron chose to walk her to her car as we all headed to the nightly meeting.

I knew tonight's meeting would be difficult. Since Aaron was still gone walking his birth mother to her car, I felt so alone. Ellen was very comforting but I couldn't help but feel like I was sitting in this room by myself. We were celebrating Liz Lee's birthday which put everyone in a good mood, but the second I see Aaron walk in the room I lost it and broke down in tears. He immediately came over to me and held me as if he was feeling the same way: a bitter sweet ending.

Aaron knew he had the choice to tell his story to the rest of the group, and he would. I, however, didn't know if I had the strength to hear it again. Before he even started to tell his story, I was in tears. Hearing him tell the group that his birth mother didn't think he was alive was heart breaking. My head down the whole time, I didn't have the strength to look up and everyone else while Aaron told his story. Getting asked to tell my thoughts and feeling about being with Aaron through it all was impossible. I couldn't even get a word out without crying. I was emotionally unstable to speak at the time. My thoughts were everywhere; from the beginning of the night, to the end. I could not believe it had all just happened.

By the end of the night, though, I was able to gather my thoughts and tell some people what it was like. It felt good to get it all out and have people understand how emotional it really is, even when it wasn't even yourself that met a birth parent. Going to bed that night, I laid in bed and my thoughts wandered. What just happened tonight? What is Aaron thinking and feeling? Are people going to treat me differently tomorrow since they've all seen me with gross, puffy, red eyes? The one feeling that stood out the most was the feeling of being part of that experience with my brother. If anyone was lucky enough to meet a birth parent I'm so very thankful it was him. I am blessed to have him as my brother as that night brought us closer than we had ever been in the 19 years we've been with each other.