“It’s different,” she insisted.

RE: Why A Generation of Adoptees is Returning to South Korea

Always, always, read NYT articles with a (raised eyebrow and) grain of salt but oh my goodness, I just bawled like a child reading this write-up. I’m not even sure why; the tears just kept flowing. I had to pause several times while reading.

I can name the suspects but primarily, I think it’s because reading this really reminded me of my mother and the conversation we had over the summer about her own adoption. She’s spoken about this many times in the past – I’ve known since I was a child – but it was the first time that I understood, as a grownup, the depth and complexity that she went through, felt, and continues to reconcile within herself. She is turning 64 in a few days, which makes me believe that this is true: indeed some things and events in our respective lives, we’ll never really completely do away with.

That image is vivid; the two of us in the small car on our way to pick up Second Sis from work. Traffic was the usual crawling speed at peak hour in Kuala Lumpur. I remember wishing it would let up, just this once. Even now I can conjure that moment so crystal clear, how I’d to turn my face away and practically glued my eyesights to the side mirror on the passenger side, a weak attempt to hide my tears, as she kept insisting that it’s different, for her, and in that same token, as her birth children we’ll never fully grasp what she means. I think it was her tone of voice that shook me to the core and undid me; an amalgam of intense emotions running through that thin thread of voice, thick with inexplicable pain that is foreign to me, who’s only ever known one mother and loves her unconditionally. It’s different, she insisted. I was in no position to doubt her.

Then not a minute later she did what she does best: she composed herself, voice steady and hardened, and insisted that it was a conscious choice that she made. She did not retrace her past out of respect for the parents who raised her. What for? She’d asked aloud. What changes? She pressed on, as if challenging the silence for answers.

Admittedly this article takes a rather obvious one-sided stance and is intended for emotional impact (or manipulation, you could think of it) in the same way dramas and movies are made – tragic heroes and heroines are always more appealing than stories of the championed ordinary men and women – but irrespective of which side that you stand on about this issue (there are many, and from different levels), I think we can at least agree on one thing: this write-up hits right in the heart. Ooof.


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