August 17, 2006
Dear Adoption, I’m having another birthday freak out and it’s all your fault. J is trying to calm me down. After K and I got divorced I moved closer to New York City and went to my adoption agency to see my file. My social worker says that I was probably brought to the orphanage by my relatives, maybe my grandparents. I was always told that my birth mother was the one who gave me away, but now I feel I have nothing left of her. Tonight J gave me a beautiful necklace with dangling translucent crystal beads and expensive perfume. He took me to dinner at a stylish Korean restaurant in Soho and then a private dessert tasting with a well-known chef. Even all of this doesn’t make me forget how I really feel about you every year on this day. He says you define me, but that can’t be true. I think I hate you.
August 17, 2008
Dear Adoption, I just landed in Korea on my thirty-first birthday. I was told that once my feet touched the ground of my birth country it would change me but I don’t know what to feel yet. I’ve never been here before and wonder what is going to happen, if I’ll suddenly understand the language or remember something here, if someone will find me. I’m in a tour group of adoptees from the US and from Sweden. At the opening ceremony they bring me a birthday cake and I blush at the attention and that they even care. We’re going to travel all around the city, together on a bus. We watch Korea compete in the Olympics together and I feel like I belong.
August 17, 2014
Dear Adoption, I know it’s been a while. I know all these KADs now: that stands for Korean Adoptee. There are thousands of us on Facebook! And oh, I’m dating one. I never looked at Asian guys before so it’s new and I’m still trying to understand it. Where have these people been all my life?
August 17, 2016
Dear Adoption, this is the last year before I turn forty. I thought by now I would’ve gotten over you. I thought I would have you all figured out. But I think about you even more each year. I’m so grateful for the KADs I can talk to all over the world. We all have a very important, special thing in common, but in the end each of us is very different. There is anger, despair and sadness, there are arguments, disagreements and drama, but there is also understanding, community, healing, and resilience.
I tell Mom about so many of our stories and varied experiences. She worries about how you have hurt us. But for me you are the good part.
o You are not separation.
o You are not loss.
o You are not abandonment.
o You are not rejection.
o You are what came afterwards.
You brought me to a family who loves me. It will never completely fill the emptiness but I feel lucky that I was placed with them so I’m grateful to you. Some of us still hate you and ask why we should feel glad that we were put into this situation against our will. I’m still trying to understand what they’ve been through and how you have shaped them. “Not all who wander are lost”, but not all who are lost search. We can each do that in our own time and I’m here to help people along the journey. I hope that we can all find our way.
It’s been a long road but I’ve grown to love you. I wonder what is next for us.