They thought it was the best thing for you

The story my mother told me about them was always the same. Your birth parents had just moved here from Korea. They thought they wouldn’t be able to give you the life you deserved. It’s the first story I can recall, one that would shape a hundred others once I was old enough and brave enough to go looking. When I was still young—three or four, I’ve been told—I would crawl into my mother’s lap before asking to hear it. Her arms would have encircled me, solid and strong where I was slight, pale and freckled against my light brown skin. Sometimes, in these half-imagined memories, I picture her in the dress she wore in our only family portrait from this era, lilac with flutter sleeves—an oddly delicate choice for my solid and sensible mother. At that age, a shiny black bowl cut and bangs would have framed my face, a stark contrast to the reddish-brown perm my mother had when I was young; I was no doubt growing out of toddler cuteness by then. But my mom thought I was beautiful. When you think of someone as your gift from God, maybe you can never see them as anything else. How could they give me up?…

Your birth parents were very sad they couldn’t keep you, but they thought adoption was the best thing for you. Even as a child, I knew my line, too. They were right, Mom. 

By the time I was five or six years old, I had heard the tale of my loving, selfless birth parents so many times I could recite it myself. I collected every fact I could, hoarding the sparse and faded glimpses into my past like bright, favorite toys. This may be all you can ever know…

Family lore given to us as children has such hold over us, such staying power. It can form the bedrock of another kind of faith, one to rival any religion, informing our beliefs about ourselves, and our families, and our place in the world. When tiny, traitorous doubts arose, when I felt lost or alone or confused about all the things I couldn’t know, I told myself that something as noble as my birth parents’ sacrifice demanded my trust. My loyalty.

They thought adoption was the best thing for you...

~ Nicole Chung, opening lines to “All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir” (October 2, 2018)

Comments

  1. The power of a narrative we are given…and upon which we build truths we insist are undeniable.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. we never forget these early stories of how we came to be

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have seen so many adults struggle emotionally with their adoption. Deep down, I don’t think they really ever get over their birth parents giving them up, no matter how noble the cause. 😢

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have often pondered how difficult it must be to have, at your bedrock, the idea that ‘your parents didn’t want you,’ despite the fact that I believe that is often the farthest thing from the truth. No matter how old you get or how much distance can sometimes creep in, that relationship is one’s touchstone, the source of our ‘essential narrative,’ as Mimi noted, and not easily released. Into the queue this goes…

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  5. Sadly, what I have seen, adoption is more often than not a cause for rotting families, a well of intense and destructing pain. I’m talking about the adoptive families mind you, not the kids; where even with the patience of a saint, the love to fill a universe and the goodwill to give these children something profoundly good, the ‘new’ parents cannot cope with the hidden and already ‘fully developped’ problems of their children. Where I was a total advocate of adoption many years ago, and for a very long time, I would now, with everything I experienced, suggest ‘hands off’. I have seen, in more than one case, that I thought the children could not have more wonderful, perfect and loving parents, said kids turned out in many unexpected, ‘untreatable’ ways, the horrible seeds of their early childhood developping in a torrid, destructive life, thus endangering themselves, their families, and society. Especially sad is the fact that those parents had far more love and compassion to give than many ‘normal’ parents and they had to prove themselves and society (authorities) over years even BEFORE they were allowed to adopt that they were ‘worthy’ of getting a child/several children.

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  6. Linnea Priest says:

    Adoption counts as an “Adverse Childhood Experience” or ACE, even infant adoption. I didn’t believe at first that an infant could be affected by the deep disruption that an older child would feel. Now I believe. As an adoptive parent, I have done my best to be therapeutic for my daughters, but you would have to ask them what they feel. I know that they have acted out their pain in different ways, some more self-destructive than others. I try to be supportive and loving. They don’t always perceive me as loving. But I remember telling my own biological mother that I was sure I was adopted, because she just couldn’t be my REAL mother……

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  7. I have seen videos of some people saying they don’t care where they came from as they were loved where they ended up. I always wonder if they are trying to convince themselves of this or if they truly are at peace with the path their lives took. I do hope it’s the latter…

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  8. I know many adopted children and their parents, I’ve even meet one of the birth Mom’s – that was so helpful to the preteen to start a relationship with her birth Mom. I have seen how difficult it can be for some adoptive child to come to terms with being giving up – for a better chance at life, I’ve seen how children who have been rescued by the state due to abuse and given a family who is willing to raise them to be the best they can be. I’ve seen a neighbor dedicated to a child they adopted who had to be sent to live her life in an mental institution…I think she is now nine…her adoptive parents who are now divorced go and visit her and want the best for her…A close friend and her family welcomed a little girl into their lives from China, she is a happy teen today…Each story so unique…and I think it wonderful that the birth Mom chose Life for their baby…///The adoption story that impacts me most is that of my Brother…my Oldest Brother, my Now only living Brother…he is much, much older and he is now blind, a heredity issue…my father had been married before he met my teenage mother. His first wife didn’t want to stay married or want anything to do with her own baby…my father was in the Military and a single man wasn’t allowed to have a baby on base. My father’s family wouldn’t help him by taking custodial care of their own grandchild while my Dad was serving His Country…my father found care for my brother in an orphanage…he lived in the orphanage as a “Border Baby” my father Choose not to have Him placed for adoption but to have him cared for…often in an orphanage there are not enough arms to hold all the babies when they need to be nurtured…my Dad meet my Mom and when she found out their was baby my father took her to meet my brother…he gave the Nuns the permission for my Mom to visit when ever allowable…she visited him daily and bonded with Him.My parents married when my Mom was 16 and once they were married my Mom went to get him from the orphanage they wouldn’t let her take him…the legalities were sorted out and she adopted him…it was war time and my Mom wasn’t able to live on a base, at that time…so she worked and raised my brother off base until they were able to join my Dad…my Brother had difficulties Socially and I could see sadness deep in his eyes…when my Brother was drafted (Navy) I was a very little girl he went off to War where he received a head injury, he was never the same…and he developed Agent Orange, typed, cancer a result of His Service to Our Country, he had to fight for His Benefits…he endured several rounds of Chemo…he always had relationship…Our Mom died 3 years ago and he was good to Her.
    He was her first baby and my other brother came along nine years later…He had all that one on one time with Her. Yet, Her Love wasn’t enough to Heal the Pain of knowing that His Birth Mom Walked away for Ever…and that He didn’t get the early nurturing He needed while living at the Orphanage…We are not suppose to know the answers to much of Life and Sometimes in the case of “Some Adoptions” how is it better for a Child to learn that they were Abandoned?…and how Cruel it was for my adopted cousins to be abandoned at a movie theater, they knew their parents…Thank God my Great Aunt and Uncle Adopted them and gave them much Love…Adoption is viable and Can Be So Wonderful for the Child or Children and such a blessing for the parents, and so painful for the Moms and or Dad’s who make the Choice of Personal Sacrifice to Bless the Child and the New Parents…Strength, Love, Patience, Understanding, Thankfulness, Forgiveness and Acceptance for What We Can’t Understand as We Journey Through This Gift of Life…

    Liked by 1 person

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