Saturday, March 11, 2006

Could I Do It? I Don't Know.

Now that I have a child, I think about how hard it must have been for my biological mother to give me up for adoption. I was found on the doorstep of a house in Seoul. The woman who lived there had ties to an organization that sent children to the United States. My mother likes to imagine that whoever left me there hid nearby until I was taken inside. (That seems a little “Moses in the bulrushes” to me, but sometimes there’s no explaining my mother. If there’s a Pharaoh somewhere holding my people in bondage, however, maybe you should give me a call. Flaming foliage preferred.)

Like all parents, I wish only the best for my son. Bump and I undertake every stupid thing we can if it might give Lumpyhead some slight advantage in the future. He needs a $3,000 helmet so his head’s not lopsided? Get one immediately. Baby Tad builds early math skills? The boy must have it. There’s a CD that will make him a better non-linear thinker? Let’s buy two, so we have one for the car!*

Once, when we were spending a few minutes with a babysitter before leaving the house, Lumpyhead fussed a little. Bump admitted to me later that he had to resist the urge to snatch the baby away from the babysitter to calm him down. We both suffer from “I’m his parent, and only I can make it better” syndrome.

It must be excruciating to come to the conclusion that the best thing for your child is to remove yourself from her life. How selfless, and how heartbreaking.

I may be romanticizing things. I could be the unwanted result of an unspeakable act. My biological mother may not have felt a bond with me the way I felt close to Lumpyhead while I was pregnant. Maybe she was glad to be rid of the little parasite that made her sick for nearly a year. (Okay, I felt a little of that with Lumpyhead, too, in addition to the bonding.)

Perhaps the decision was forced on her by economics; maybe my biological parents couldn’t afford to raise another child. Maybe my birth mother died, and her partner wasn’t in the picture.

There are so many possibilities. I admit I’m sort of curious, but in truth, I don't really care. I was raised by people who love me; who would do anything to ensure my safety and happiness. I don’t feel the urge to connect with my biological family.

People often ask me if I want to “go back” to Korea. I usually answer that there are other places I would like to see first. I guess what I don’t articulate is that if I did visit Korea, it wouldn’t feel like a homecoming to me, it would simply be a tourist destination. By contrast, when Bump and I traveled to the Netherlands several years ago, I felt like I was on a heritage field trip.

While I don’t have a strong desire to meet my genetic relatives, there’s a part of me that wants to reassure my biological mother, or whoever left me on that doorstep: I’m fine. I went to the U.S., as I assume you wanted. I was raised by loving people with a strong moral compass (who are a little kooky, but in a good way). I have a brother. I got good grades. I went to an Ivy League college. My job is to advise Members of Congress. I have a husband, a son, and wonderful friends. I am happy.

You did the right thing.

*I know of no CD that accomplishes this, I just made it up.


Melissa said...

You know it's funny, you always here about people who try to find their birth family. My friend Stephanie says the same thing you do. She was left at the front of a church shortly before a service. She was adopted from Romania. I personally think you have a great outlook on it. Just wanted to put in my 2 cents.

Gidge said...

My mother was adopted feels very similarly. Her philosophy is that the family she grew up with are her family and she has always hoped that whomever gave her up respects her new life and family.
She always thought that it would be a sort of a nightmare to have someone knock on the door and say "I'm your mother." Because she'd have to say "umm, no you're not."
At least, that is how she feels.
Adoption must really be the hardest thing in the world to do though. I have a great deal of respect for those who are able to make that decision.

cocoricamo said...

thank you for sharing this. it's beautiful.