Today I turn 20. Just one more year to add to my short stack, right? Well, now that I think about it… not really. Birthdays are something that everyone defines in their own unique way- some have family traditions, customs, rites of passage- you name it. Some people are more passive about celebrations while others, well let’s just say they going gorillas, huh. But to me, big days (especially birthdays) are an enormous deal. I don’t celebrate that much, but I sure do think. A lot.
It’s been two whole decades since my young, sixteen-year-old birthmother suffered through an induced labor to push awkwardly-long me out of a very tiny body cavity after an emotionally and physically draining pregnancy.
I don’t know everything, but here are the facts: she didn’t list the father or any of her family members on the paper work, she was a teenager, and she didn’t abort me. Whether or not she was pressured into refusing abortion, she morally declined, or she simply couldn’t afford it- she went through with the pregnancy and brought me into the world as an unwed, young, teenage mother. I imagine myself now with the Jake of my life that I love so dearly- what if I magically got pregnant like my birthmother? Even though Jake’s in the picture, it’d still be a world of stress and unpreparedness that aren’t ideally suitable for raising a child. And then I think back to her, four years younger than I am now, and the strength, love, and compassion she had to have had to give me life and then give me up like that.
And today, 2 decades later, it’s a big anniversary of that emotional day.
I mean- when you make it through 20 years of marriage and you still love your spouse, and everyone asks how you did it and wishes you luck.
But if you make it through 20 years of wondering what happened to the child you felt grow inside you, no one might ever know.
It would wreck me. To spend my days wondering about a tiny human that came into the world because of something I did when I was sixteen would be an emotional rollercoaster of who knows.
It’s pretty typical for adopted kids to wonder about their birth parents, especially in closed adoptions. Personally, every year I get a tiny bit emotional over the uncertainties of my birth and birth family, their histories, and the questions surrounding where they are now.
But this year, I’m more at ease than usual. Whether it’s because my brain is finally maturing or I’m growing callous, it’s calm. The thoughts are there, but they’re not total chaos. I don’t want to cry, but I still think. And even then, I think some more. And this is where this thinking got me:
what I wish she knew, instead of what I want to know
To the girl that brought me into the world,
we’re strangers but we’re not,
you’re thirty-six and I’m freshly twenty-
and at some point we were connected-
we’ve had years to grow our separate ways,
that’s what adoption intended,
but my mind still clings to the thought of you,
there’s no way to suspend it.
On this birthday, it’s hard for me.
I wish you knew who I’ve become-
Despite the things you think I think,
I wish you’d know what I wish you knew-
deep down I know you, out of you I grew.
It might be more for me than you,
it might be silly, pretentious, rude,
but here’s what I wish I knew you knew.
You are so strong.
When I was inside you, you must have had a heart,
because my world is full of joy- it’s rarely ever dark.
Science shows that stressed pregnancy is dangerous and rough,
the infants born are stressed out too and their development is tough.
But I was great, at least my mother says, I slept and ate and rarely cried,
I grew up quick and laughed and smiled,
and my imagination grew up too because I drove my mother wild.
Thank you for nourishing me, for giving me a chance live.
I know that girls all over the world don’t let their pregnancies show,
Whether afraid for their loves or their lives or their time,
their families’ opinions or money or crime,
they have the procedure that gives me shuddering chills
because you had the option and you were selfless at will.
I admire your strength even though we’ve not met,
I don’t need to see you to know you’re incredible yet.
I think about you, all of the time-
Whether sunshine or storm, I think of your life,
On birthdays I celebrate the life that you gave me,
I’m so often overwhelmed with thankfulness; I cry.
Intentional or sporadic, you pop into my mind,
the image isn’t a visual
it’s a feeling of love,
for the stranger that gave birth to me and sacrificed a ton.
I imagine you now, I try so hard that I tire,
I try to imagine your life and/or child.
I imagine what it’d be like to see you in person,
I wistfully yearn to see more than just feelings,
but I think I’m afraid to find you
I’m afraid of the truthful realness.
I’m deathly afraid of rejection- it’s sad,
my counselor once said it could be because I didn’t have a dad.
My adoptive father is real;
he’s so wise and he’s kind,
but the paperwork really takes a toll on my mind-
I’m afraid to find out who he really was,
did he hurt you or leave you for keeping your child?
I don’t want to find out that I’m a child of trauma,
I don’t want to hurt you or cause any drama.
I have my DNA analyzed and the results are online,
they’re in public and they’re hoping for a match or a find.
I check the account more often than others,
I think it’s because deep down I hope to match with you or a brother.
Speaking of mothers and brothers, oh my,
I’d love to meet your family someday if I tried.
If it’s alright with you, of course, and alright with them too,
I would love to see pictures or something of you.
I’d love to see what you look like, I won’t be a prude,
I’d love to see them and meet them,
and see albums of change,
I’d love to become more ‘there’, out of the void of ‘estranged’.
I’ve used Wikipedia to research my name,
did you choose it or leave me nameless?
it’s really just the same,
but is there a hidden meaning?
Am I partly insane?
And do you have hair like mine- is it thin, long, and soft?
Do you like to paint, write, or draw? Do you like to sit and talk?
Do others tell you that, in fact, you sleep just like a rock?
I wonder all about you: like, where are you now?
Are you even alive?
Do you have your own family, have you lived your dreams?
Do you live in a disguise- do you keep me in lies?
Have you ever been outside Korea, would you ever like to meet?
Obviously I play a role in most of the questions here,
I don’t know even what to ask because of all the fear.
Do you think about me ever, do I ever cross your mind?
Because, birth mother, you cross mine-
All and each and every time.