by Mary Choi Robinson, adopted from South Korea to the USA.
This is Choi Soon Kyu.
She is about 4 years old in this picture and recently orphaned and sick from the ravages of poverty.
Before this picture was taken she had a prior life and was someone’s child, someone’s daughter with most likely a different name.
About 8 months after this picture on February 18, she will be delivered to the US, be given a new identity and family; a new life that is foreign, scary, and imposed upon her. Her name will be changed and she will lose her language and culture to new ones.
Her three identities, her three lives, are borne of trauma and loss. She is now me and I survive every day from all she lost.
Don’t tell me to be thankful or grateful, or that every child deserves a safe, loving family and home.
Instead try to understand that I carry this unbearable grief and loss every day. A grief that is not worse but unlike other grief that cannot always be easily expressed. A grief I’m not certain how to mourn and will most likely never recover from, that may have generational consequences.
Some days I struggle more than others, especially when unexpectedly blindsided by adoption.
So today is not just the anniversary of my adoption/arrival to the US, but also an anniversary of loss. But I’m still here and doing the best I can making the most of this life, so I’ll celebrate that.
If you’d like to read more from Mary, her Masters thesis is included at ICAVs Research page – Living a Parallel Life: Memoirs and Research of a Transnational Korean Adoptee.