Deep breath. Adoption.
I knew this wouldn’t be an easy subject to write about, even though it’s Chapter One of my story. The subject is bittersweet, poignant and if over-examined, can become a sappy made-for-TV movie titled, “I Love Family Long Time!” (Brace yourself for some tongue-in-cheek ethnic humor. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of my culture and have taken a few jabs for it. I also feel I’ve earned the right to ask a Chinese girl at LAX why her outfit looks like it was rescued from a pile of debris, yet she’s carrying this season’s $2,000 Gucci handbag.)
But I digress…
Adoption is a difficult subject to write about because of its complex duality—its joy is rooted in another’s loss. It’s a story that begins with another’s end, and whether it’s domestic or international adoption, the central character is the child who is given love through two conflicting actions: letting go and taking hold. See? Tricky. I believe to really understand adoption, one has to be a character in its plot.
Can I stop a second to tell you how much I love this photo of Katherine Heigl and her daughter Naleigh? It reduces me to a puddle of blubbering, happy tears EVERY SINGLE TIME.So, my Chapter One, abridged: I was born in Seoul, South Korea, in 1978. My birthmother was single, destitute and without family support. According to my adoption papers, her only wish/blessing/request was, “Please make sure she has a sweet home.” I can sense how helpless and alone she must have felt. My heart aches deeply as I imagine her making the final decision to leave the hospital with empty arms.
From there, I was sent to a Korean orphanage where I spent the first few months of my life. Soon after, I was adopted, sent to America and landed in the smack-dab middle of the map, the Midwest, where the term “smack-dab middle” is used A LOT.
This is the very first photo my parents received of me before I arrived. My birth name is Hyo Bee Im, which translated means “Modest Queen.” However, I’m pretty sure the more accurate translation is “Sriracha Sarah.”
My “sweet home.” AKA, Lovely Mom and Dashing Dad.
Here’s me, adjusting poorly to my Javier Bardem, “No Country for Old Men” unibangs. Long live the torrid ‘80s.
So I grew up in a small city in the Smack-Dab Middle and was part of the 0.000005% Asian population in my town. I think there were others. I’m not sure. Maybe I kept seeing the same one. Sadly, we never connected or formed an Asian gang.
Truly, I am very proud and honored to be adopted. When I think of those I lived with in the orphanage who remained there, well, I just can’t go there. Also, I don’t think adopted kids are more special than anyone else. They just took a longer route to get home.
This post is the beginning. Others will follow. I want to write to parents who have adopted children (or are thinking about adopting), and those of you out there who are adopted. I’m currently in the process of doing an in-depth search to locate my birth mom in Korea. Hopefully I’ll have some updates next time we meet.
So, consider this post a first date. Let’s do this again soon, yes? I’ll call you. Promise.
Thank you for tuning in, HelloGigglers, and for following me on this journey.