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the story of my story

{prayer flags in Portland, summer 2011}

Happy solstice friends!

I got up this morning and puttered slowly into the day, turned on the AC to give it a head start on the forcasted ninety degree temps, cranked open the sky lights upstairs, and then brewed a fresh batch of mint and honey iced tea in preparation for summer to spread her wings today.  I shared a little music in honor of the Sun, a sultry and passionate rhythm perfect for tucking into a dark corner and making love on a midsummer night, and I also plan to sink my feet into the cool earth, the sea, sometime today in honor of the longest day of the year.

And so the story...

I used to work at a residential home for kids when I was in my early twenties, back when I thought I might be on my way to becoming a social worker or special ed teacher (after I thought I was going to be a physical therapist - can you imagine?  yeah, me neither).  It's where I met my husband actually, a Geologist/Philosopher who as it turns out would become the social worker in this family, but I digress.

I remember a colleague who also worked with us who coincidentally had a sister who was a Korean adoptee around my age.  I forget his name, but I will always remember this conversation we had one afternoon.  Somehow we got talking about adoption and my adoption story, the once-upon-a-time that had always been my version of a birth story, the beginning of my personal narrative.  It went something like this:

In Korea, I was left on the doorstep of a police station in the city of Daegu.  I was sick, malnourished, and just an infant.  After a stay in the hospital to be treated for pneumonia and impetigo, I was sent to an orphanage.  At 10 months old, on December 19, 1972, I was adopted and came to the US.

The finer details have always been murky, mentions of foster home(s), a fire at the orphange, and the timeline was always vague at best.  Even my birth date was said to be estimated, an uncertainty that has always weighed silently but heavily on my soul.  Although much of this story felt like a kind of fill-in-the-blanks Mad Lib, I never really questioned it.  Until that day.

I shared my story with him with the same reverence and pride I always had.  When I finished, he looked at me kind of oddly and told me, much to my shock, that this very story and the same exact history his sister had.  We both sat in awe for a second, silently contemplating this realization and I remember the slow dawning of feelings I was not ready to face, truth that suddenly became glaring questions, like one ding in a pristine windshield that spreads slowly, spidering and splintering wider and more obstructive of the view.  In that moment, I knew I didn't really understand who I was or where I had come from. 

Maybe all Korean adoptees have this story and maybe that is just the way it happens in Korea, and maybe what my family and I had always believed to be true was more a generalization of societal circumstance and my truth was more in the gray areas.  Until that conversation though, I had always believed my adoption story was something unique and special and that, that somehow made me unique and special, and it was always enough.  It was how I often coped with feeling different and my feelings of rejection, and I clung to this magic of my own Cinderella story.  That was a sad day for me.

I understand now, to a large extent, stories are just ideas we fill our heads with.  Some are rooted in personal truth and others are walls with which we keep safe and shield ourselves from feeling pain.  When I speak of story, I aim to honor and embrace the former, so it is with that fierce longing I head off in search of the real version of my truth.  The answers are not as important as the actual process of searching, no longer ignoring this gaping hole in my past, and that's a complicated thing to explain.  Really it doesn't matter why, I suppose.

So this, and replacing a burnt out strand of twinkle lights in my living room, is what happens to be on my mind today as spring gives way to summer.


  1. This was very powerful for me. Thank you for sharing this.

    1. you're more than welcome! so glad it resonated...xo


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