Monday, June 9, 2014

Her story

We recently met a family with several adopted children.  Their mother was talking about some problems they had with the process for getting their youngest (apparently, they had to stay in-country for much longer than anticipated) when the oldest piped up and admonished her for telling the child's story.

What is meant by an adoptee's "story"?  Have we not inadvertently set up adoptees as victims or, at least, a special class of people who have "their" stories that they and ONLY they can tell?  Are we putting these children on a hair trigger to get defensive about their background, as if there is something shameful about it?

I don't know.  Certainly there is and will be information about my daughter that ought to be private, between her and us or even (especially when she's older) kept to herself.  But it seems to me that this is so for any child: it would be wrong, for example, for a parent to publicly expose details of how his son cried after losing a game or how his daughter got dumped by a boy she really liked.  We all have things about ourselves that we'd rather other people not know, either because they are embarrassing or simply because they are nobody's business but our own.

In writing this blog, are my wife and I violating our daughter's privacy?  I don't think so.  I hope that, if she ever reads what we've written, she'll see only the sorts of stories that all parents tell about their children, and that they are told with love and pride (and maybe a little humor).

So, what shall I tell my daughter about "her story" and other people?


  1. Well that is a good question. I am seventeen now, but I was adopted as a baby from South Korea. I don't particularly like sharing about my past. My best friend, who I have known since we were both two, knows nothing past the fact that I was adopted. My sister on the other hand, who is less than a year younger than me and from China, is very open to sharing about her past. She has shown her boyfriend an album of pictures of her in the orphanage and has even told him about the note from her bio mom (which is locked up in the safe!). I think how much you share is all personal preference to be honest. The only times I have really shared much with others my age is at adoptee summer camps.
    The choice not to share much should NOT be confused with bottling it up inside of me, or being embarrassed about it. I am not at all ashamed to be an adoptee nor do I wish I had someone's shoulder to cry on and talk about it with. I know my friends would die to hear my story, but only for curiosity's sake.
    When I was younger, I did ask my parents questions like "Why can't we go see my Korea mommy?", but with time I have been able to accept what is. I am not heartless and unemotional, so I do sometimes wonder about my past, but its not like the stereotype of adoptees having a dramatic passion to know about their bio families and they always think about them and dream about them and feel jealousy toward friends who were not adopted. Lol!!! :-) (don't fall for stereotypes. I think 99% of adoptees don't fall under that category, but I know a few who do). My sister agrees about that stereotype.
    I know this may seem silly, but I always lift my Korean family up in prayer. It is my prayer that Christ enters their lives if He hasn't already. They played such an important role in me getting to where I am today. Never forget to pray for Caroline's family's salvation! I am sure she has siblings, and the gift of salvation is so much more important than well being.

    Blessings and hugs,

    PS - feel free to email me with any questions you may have.
    oliveswendsen at gmail dot com

    1. Thank you so very, very much for this thoughtful response! I am very grateful to have your insights on the matter.

      I am also glad that you mentioned your Korean family as I have often wondered just what we ought to tell our daughter about her own birth parents or, indeed, what I think of them myself. I think I'll be pondering these questions for many years to come.

      Thank you again.