I have to say, I was blown away by the response to ‘the ugly, beautiful truth‘ post. It is an issue that we, as adoptive parents, wrestle with prayerfully and thoughtfully. It is not something to take lightly or offhandedly, as our decisions today will certainly affect the way our children feel about themselves tomorrow.
I expect that every adoptive parent who read that post will have their own take on how best to share with their child what they know of their past. And that’s a good thing. I love that I was able to ‘stir the pot’ so to speak, and bring this not- so- happy topic to the forefront for a bit. Honestly, it forced me to really ponder it all personally. And if there is a subject that deserves thought and consideration, this is one.
I want to thank you all for your comments, I really gleaned so much from reading each and every one. So if you took the time to comment and share your heart, thank you.
One commenter especially stood out. Mandy Parks, a Korean Adult Adoptee (KAD), shared some outstanding thought on her own story of abandonment as an infant, adoption into an American family and how her parents shared her story with her.
I think it’s a must read. It will enlighten you, and it will move you. It certainly did me. Thank you, Mandy, for your candor and your transparency.
“I am a Korean Adoptee who came home when I was 7 mos. old. I have no information other than the fact that I was abandoned at birth. I have grown up with the facts, ie. NO INFORMATION at all, but was also told that my birth mother must have loved me to SOME degree to carry me in her stomach for 9 months and endure the pains of labor to bring me into this world. She then left me at a place where she knew I had high chances of being found. She did not wrap me up in a trash bag and throw me away, like we hear about here in the U.S. It may be “fabricated” as we can’t prove it, but I choose to believe that my birth mom made the ultimate sacrifice to give me up and seek a better future for me.
Without this to hold on to and to believe in, I don’t think I would have made it this far in my life. As an adult, with children of my own, I know that “my birth mother loved me and chose a better life for me” is not FACT, but it is what I choose to believe in my heart and I thank my parents for presenting that idea to me as I was growing up. It’s very hard to feel abandoned and unwanted, even with the support of a loving family. Just another opinion from the opposite side of the triad…“
And later she added:
“I felt as though I should add some background to my story so as to be more clear on why I feel this way. (I also think that being able to write about this and not be judged is therapeutic for me, so thanks.)
I am a 32 year old KAD who came home at 7 mos. I have struggled with abandonment issues my entire life. I have no information in regards to my adoption except for the fact that I was abandoned. I have no idea if my birth date is accurate and correct. I do know that I have 2 amazing and loving parents. I love them more than words could ever express and to me they are my “REAL” parents. They have always done the best they could in dealing with my adoption issues, but resources were limited for them, as I was the last part of the first generation of KAD’s. There weren’t a lot of post placement services offered as I was growing up. Even though I know that my parents love me and are always there for me, there is a woman somewhere in this world who gave me away. That in itself just kills a part of me from the inside out. Someone on the other side of the world gave birth to me and gave me away/left me. Logically I know that it wasn’t my fault, I was a baby and I did nothing wrong. That doesn’t diminish the pain, hurt, and shame that comes from being abandoned.
I know that it’s not a “fact” that my birth mother loved me. I know it can’t be proven, unless I were to find her and ask her. I do know that “more than likely” she did love me to some degree. She cared enough to do all the things that led me to my forever family, starting with carrying me to term, ending with letting me go. If all I had were the “facts”, ie. there was a woman, she gave birth to you, she left you, we know nothing else about it, BUT WE as your parents love you very much, I honestly think that I would have had an even harder time dealing with it all.
I do see your point about not lying to your children and fabricating “fairy tales”, but I don’t think it’s wrong to suggest that their birth mother must have loved/cared about them in some way. I just can’t imagine asking my parents if my birth mother at least loved me, and having them look me in the eye and tell me that they’re not sure, they don’t know..or just a flat out no. I’ve had some very dark days in my life (in regards to my adoption/abandonment issues) and I will say that I leaned heavily on the thought that my birth mom did the best she could and acted out of love for me. I realize that each family is different and you all have to do what works best for your family. I do not judge your choices on how you approach these issues with your children.
I just wanted to provide my perspective as an adoptee who has dealt with these issues first hand. Thanks for letting me share.”
Thank you for posting KAD's responses. I am trying to learn all I can about abandonment issues to help my girls. My older daughter is going through some of it to a degree and I feel it will be more as she continues to grow.
I needed the reminder that it hurts down to the soul so I can be there for my kids. I thought that I would have a better handle on it since my Mom died when I was 8 but that is all together different. She didn't choose to leave me – the cancer took her. I still have had dark moments in my life in trying to deal with the grief that surprises one. So, in that respect I will have a tiny bit of understanding.
I just thank God that I have my Dad to help cushion the hurt and that is what I will be for my girls.
Thank you for posting your post and the response and please let KAD know it helped me too.
Wow…I am speechless! Thank you Mandy for sharing your heartfelt thoughts! It is very difficult to imagine that our beautiful children are faced with these very difficult and troubling issues…however it is a reality and the only thing that I can do as a parent is to be honest with my son about the first two years of his life and let him know that he is loved beyond measure. It saddens me to know that my son will never know the simple facts related to the miracle of his birth. Thank you Stefanie for sharing Mandy's comments – it certainly gives me more to think about as I begin to prepare myself for questions in the years ahead.
Both enlightened and moved me, just as you said…
This is a lovely and thought provoking post/comment – thank you for sharing it…
We need to know what to say and who better to tell us than the "children"
I'm glad Mandy posted that. When I first read about your decision I worried about possible feelings of abandonment and it's interesting to hear from someone who's been through it. Far from judging you, I think you do an amazing job and am totally in awe (and not a little jealous!). I know that whatever you choose to do or say it will be with the best possible intentions and as parents that's the best we can do. Big hugs!
Thank you for sharing your heart Mandy. I am so glad that you felt comfortable to share and find a little healing in it. While we have not dealt with our children asking these questions yet we do want to be truthful to them. We try so hard to speak to them with truth at all times so that they know they can trust what we say in the future when we start dealing with the really hard important things.
One thing we want to do for our kids is let them know they are loved, we hope their birth mother loved them and plan to tell them that we believe she must have, how much we love them and are so happy to be their forever family and most importantly to our family is that Jesus loves them. HE guided and protected our childrens birth mother to make a better plan than the alternatives.
Thank you Stefanie for sharing what was shared with you. You bring so much out in the open and encourage some very important questions and ideas.
I agree wholeheartedly with Mandy! What she described is exactlty what I have always told my 2 adopted Chinese daughters. They are now 11 and 13 years old, and I have always been able to see their relief as they ponder the fact that their birth mothers must have cared deeply about them. In a society where abortion is rampant, their mothers chose to carry them. Then they were brave enough to risk there own well-being to "hide" them in plain sight where they would be found quickly. This was an illegal act, punishable by prison,that they were willing to do for the sake of their babies. These ARE facts. We know they had to have occurred in order for these precious girls to have been found where they were found. My daughters have a kind of peace with this because there are things we CAN know about their beginnings.
It doesn't really require "stretching" any truth at all.
Thank you Stefanie for bringing up this important subject.
The Oswalds says
Thank you for sharing this. As a mom of Korean born and Chinese born children, I appreciate this woman's story and comments.
Sally- That Girl! says
I read your post yesterday and wanted to reply when I found time, that never happened.
What I wanted to say as an adult adoptee myself is that I agree with your decision. I think as adoptees we are always fantasizing about our biological families and when perhaps mistruths or more glamour is added it creates more fantasy. Which of course almost always leads to disappointment and years of fabricating something in your head that you start to believe.
I do tell my children who are adopted that I believe their birthmothers loved them enough to surrender them in a healthy and loving way. But I do not go beyond that.
I did find my birth family at age 21 and the reality of it was nothing like the fantasy I created in my head, which in turn made it more devastating that it already was.
I feel we should have open age appropriate conversations with our kids that do not lean one way or the other and to always focus on how much we wanted them, how God predestined them to be with us and how very much we love them!!
Thank you, Mandy, for your response; and thank you, Stefanie, for bringing it to the forefront. It's the adult adoptees such as Mandy that I long to hear from. So many times as adoptive parents we think every decision we make will have a lifelong impact on our children, good or bad. I realize that all five of my adopted children have some sense of loss, whether they recognize it or not. And the question I must answer is how am I going to help them through it?
That was really beautiful, Mandy. Thank you so much. I am saving this post to my favorites so that I will always have it when our daughter comes home and has questions. I worry even more because we may be getting a child as old as 4, so explaining all this to her the best we can will be challenging at best. I hope to continue to find ideas and insights from people like you and Stefanie and other parents/adoptees to help us along the way.
Thank you and God Bless.
Mandy Park says
Wow, I was a little surprised to come here to check your your amazing site and find this post. I am honored that you would post this here for others to see. I would just like to add, I am only one adoptee out of many and can only speak for myself and my experience. I know other adoptees who have voiced that they feel the same, as well as others who feel totally different. Each family and story is different and I know that you will all find the way that works best for you and your children. I think the hardest part for me is dealing with the unknowns, whereas I know other adoptees who have found their bio. families/information about their beginnings and now wish they hadn't. Thank you so much for letting me share my thoughts on your blog.
Wow…so good to read. I do get a little tug at my heart when I think of my daughter and how these issues might affect her as she grows up. I just pray that our communication has been and will continue to be open enough, so that she feels she can talk about her birth parents whenever she wants. I feel so blessed to have the small amount of information that we do have.
Interesting, though, she prays for her China Mommy every night..and the other day she just looked at me, out of the blue, and said..I love my China Mommy. To which I replied, "so do I!" My heart aches for my daughter because I know that she will always wonder about her birth mom. I pray that God will give her the strength and the peace to be able to accept what has happened and the grace to go forth and live a life that is full and happy.
WOW…Stefanie…thank you so very much for sharing Mandy's response with us…it is so very helpful to hear from the point of view of someone who has gone through it…this helps me tremendously.
Jewels of My Heart says
Thank you so much for sharing this. I have been reading several posts lately on the subject of "Gotcha Days, Forever Family Days, our children's birth stories, and what to tell them"
It is a very difficult, and heart wrenching decision to know what is best for your child. I will admit that I have almost felt guilty for what I have shared with my children after reading so many posts by others that take the opposite view as myself. But this beautiful young woman's words were like a soothing balm to my soul. It helps give me a little more peace to know that I am on the right track when it comes to my own children. Do I know the FACTS behind their birth parents giving them up/ abandoning them? No, I don't…. and perhaps I am mistaken…. but in my heart of hearts I do believe they are loved by their birth mothers and that they did care enough and risk a lot by giving birth to them. I guess we won't know until one day we stand in Heaven and are able to ask God for the answers… but all I know what is in my heart and what I believe to be the best for my children. So I will continue to share their life story with them as I have… and trust that Jesus is right there with me to comfort them through the times when their heart breaks as they work through the difficult questions.
Thank you for sharing what is right for your family and for sharing these words as well….
Thanks for posting this…and Thanks to Mandy for her honesty. I feel even better now about what we have been telling our children.
What a blessing for Mandy to share her story. I appreciate her candor in discussing her feelings and her choice to believe her birth mother loved her.
What do you say when your child was found in a "rubbish pool"(city dump), when they were unloading garbage cans. I am so lucky she was found alive. The truth of her abandonment is so very heartbreaking. She is an incredible little girl, and I have difficulty imagining what she will feel as we have those discussions. Always keep her in your prayers.
3 Peanuts says
Stef…I am so glad you shred this. These thought have been so heavy on my mind lately as we approach the 3rd anniversary of Kate coming home…Also, she is getting to the age where things are coming into focus for her and she will begin asking the questions.
We are ALWAYS wondering what the right way to handle all of this is and I am SO SO SO grateful to have one more perspective to add to my growing base of knowledge and opinions. Thank you.
Stefanie, I found it very interesting when I heard my sister-in-law talk about that very thing as we were visiting with her a couple days ago. Her daughter was born in Korea 24 years ago. She went the route of telling her that her mother must've loved her, etc. Mother and daughter have an incredibly close bond and they are both beautiful people. I believe that it's best if we each follow God's leading. Father knows best.
OMG, there are so many misconception/misinformation about China on this blog, I don't even know where to begin. First of all, one child policy only applies to the major Han Chinese who live in the city limits. Han Chinese live in the rural area can have two children. There are 56 authentic groups, and 55 of them belong to different minority groups in China and they are not subject to this. Secondly, having more than one child after 1977 (that when the law went into effect), does not put you in prison! I have many friends who have brothers/sisters. Their parents paid a fine for it. The amount of the fine differs from city to city. However, nowadays, most family have no problem pay the average fine amount of $5000 US (roughly 2 months salary for most people). I am not saying things all rosy in China, but most Chinese do enjoy a living standard that is very similar to the middle class in U.S. China is a large country with a diverse group of people, culture, and social-economic circumstances. To see things though your “blinders” or make general comments like some of the ones I see on this blog is the same as someone overseas watches “ Girl gone wild” and come to the conclusion that all American women are sluts.
This is SO good and I really appreciate hearing Mandy's perspective on this. It is helpful to us as adoptive parents to children whom we know will never 'know' who their birth mother is. I think as adoptive parents, this topic is one that weighs heavily on our hearts for our children. I appreciate this open discussion and those that commented, too. Thanks for 'hosting' such a topic!
God bless! <><
Wow- I read your past post and this one- it is so interesting. As adoptive parents what do we do??
My Sarah says her birth Momma threw her away… I was shocked and wasn't sure how to react. Sarah just went on with life and started playing… (now analyze that one for me?)
I do not know what real China is like but I have heard…
I think I will tell them she loved them and did what she thought was right at the time… ?
It's the only possible truth I could live with and I am guessing it will be the only truth they will be able to live with, too…
Thank you Mandy! I so appreciate your perspective. I think what your parents told you sounds very affirming and appropriate. They weren't making things up, but based on the few things they did know, they made one important assumption….that there was some feeling of love from your birthmother.
My daughter is only 4, but has already very clearly expressed grief over her abandonment. When I showed her the picture of where she was found, she sobbed and said, "No. People don't put babies in the dirt."
As she gets older, I do think it's appropriate to say that her mother carried her for 9 months when that wasn't her only option. After coming home from China, I happened to hear a program on NPR about human rights violations in the rural areas of the Guangxi Province where there were some documented cases of forced abortions. I'm sure that's a horrible, rare occurrence, but I know our guide in China did say that abortions are not expensive there and are encouraged in cases of unplanned pregnancies. My baby was born and that says something. And then she was left at the gate of the orphanage. An orphanage that I assume her birthmother knew supported international adoption. I hope that the life my daughter is living now is what her birthmother imagined for her.
While we are waiting to bring home our little one from El Salvador many thoughts are running wild. I have been wondering what we will be given for information on her birth mom, only time will tell. I did so love Mandy's open heart to share with all. I do think that the words that we choose to share with our children are so impressionable on their heart…they will stay with them forever!!!
I thank you for your knowledge!
Stefanie – you just keep right on stirring the pot – never hurts to bump the status quo from time to time!
Mandy – thank you for sharing your heart – and props to your parents for their support of you into adulthood! I'll consider myself blessed if our adopted kids come through this with the same perspective that you do!
hugs – aus and co.
Thanks for sharing you thoughts and Mandy's. The losses are profound and it is hard to always know just how to help our children deal with them. My 7 year old has come to some of her own conclusions, like Mandy has, about her birth mother. She knows the story that she was left at the gates of the orphanage to be found. What she doesn't know is that this orphanage, the largest sending orphanage in China, also offered money (in phone conversations with reporters) for baby girls. I have no idea if they were doing that at the time she was found. The issues are complex and sometimes the truth can be very disturbing.
I am glad that to have read this post and it helps me to know that i am at least doing some things right with my 2 adopted girls from China. What a beautiful and candid post from KAD. This is to me the hardest part of parenting my girls…to know thier pain and see them struggle with this issue. I have told them both that thier mother and father loved them and it was heartbreaking to let them go. I can only imagine how it would be. There is also a wonderful book called Mommy Far and Mommy Near that we read and helps with this issue. Jordyn and Jailynn love the book and it helps us talk about this in an open and loving way.
Thanks for sharing Mandy's comment. Her thoughts and feelings as an adoptee is so helpful when I think ahead to the conversations that will come someday about why she was abandoned.
I know how blessed we are to have a little window into the past a letter from her birth parents that does answer the question and I know that that they did love her and care for her enough to let her go.
Thanks for your thoughtful post and keeping us all conected.
Thank you for sharing and thank you to Mandy for allowing us a glimpse into her heart and her experience, how very brave and generous of her.
I think we will always do the quiet dance of our children~ advancing forward in some areas, retreating back in others, not always on the same matters or the same way twice. But most definitely taking their lead and leading when they cannot. I will always seek God's face when dealing with my children's hearts…and our family's well being. His words, not my own will speak the truth in love.
Thank you so much Stefanie for hosting so delicately and with great discernment a topic that requires our mindfulness and our hearts.
Hugs to you
Wow. So powerful. Thank you so much to Mandy for sharing her very important perspective and for allowing you to share it with all of us. Stefanie, I so appreciate your thoughtful and thought-provoking posts.
My husband and I felt in our hearts that this is how we wanted to present the unknowns to our daughter and having now read these comments, we are convicted.
With Love and Prayers for All as we each try to do our very best for our children…
Your comment about "most" Chinese have a living standard similar to middle Class U.S. What??
My son had a foster family where there were no indoor toilets and not hot water. He told me this and then a month later a family I know travels to the village and confirms what he has said when they are visiting for other reasons with their adopted child.
Also see the link below. From National Public Radio April 2007 regarding forced abortions in China. I have a friend who is a China Rights activist and she knows her facts..I have no idea where you have gotten yours. Forced abortions still do happen in China in some areas. The fines can be quite high for extra children and I have no idea why you believe most Chinese could afford the loss of two months salary (or more) for the fee of extra children. Many Chinese are not the same equivalent living standards of middle class US.
I am so thankful that she posted on your blog and that you shared it with us!
I truly appreciate hearing her story and it has absolutely helped me with what we will tell our girls!
Thank you again!
I was born 41 years ago, relinquished at birth into foster care and adopted later in a closed adoption. Although I was not left on a doorstep it nonetheless felt like abandonment to me and I struggled for MANY years with rejection and abandonment issues. When my daughter, adopted from China, reaches the age of asking about her birthmother I may tell her that I believe that she loved her and the few facts that I do have, but I will not go into much more than that because I believe that to often adoptive parents try to justify the choices of the biological parents and I feel that brings on it's own set of problems. Regardless of whether the reasons are good reasons or not there is a bond that is broken and pain that is inherant in that. I was always told that my biological mother loved me and although I grasped to believe that it caused me A LOT of anger, both at my birthmother for giving me away and at my adoptive parents for saying so. Because when I was younger I COULD NOT understand how a parent who truely loves their child could walk away to never have contact again. Whether you choose to give the few facts you know or to try and fill in the blanks there are going to be issues your child will have to deal with regardless. Unfortunately that is part of the territory that goes along with adoption. I am in no way against adoption. I am very pro-life and pro-adoption. I have adopted before and am doing so again. I believe caring for the fatherless is a wonderful calling. I am just saying that adoption is loss. No matter how you try to explain it to your child. The loss is very real and they are going to struggle with that.