Monday, September 22, 2008

I Wish For You a Beautiful Life: Letters from the Korean Birth Mothers of Ae Ran Won to Their Children

This book was on my wish list of books to read. A dear friend of mine sent me this book as a birthday present. It made me cry, which perhaps wouldn't always make the best kind of birthday gift. But in this case - it did! (Thanks, J!)

This book is published by Yeong and Yeong, whom I only recently discovered. They have published a variety of books on adoption for both parents and children. All of their books look fabulous but this was the one I wanted to read the most.

As some of you are aware, we are on our own adoption journey and I was excited about the concept of getting to hear directly from the birth mothers themselves. That's a treat I never would have imagined. This book is a collection of letters which the birth mothers have written to their children (as the title does suggest). It was educational and enlightening.

The most eye-opening thing for me, personally, was in hearing "directly from" the mothers as to why they chose to place their babies up for international adoption as opposed to a domestic adoption in Korea. I've heard the rhetoric about Korean culture and customs from various resources but not, of course, from the mother. In a particular letter, one mother explains why she choose international adoption for her child (please take note that the mothers can choose whether they prefer a domestic or international adoption):

"My baby, when you grow up you may ask why your mother gave you up for adoption abroad. You may think that if you had grown up in Korea and had been adopted by a Korean family, you would not have gone through so much hardship. However, when I was faced with the decision of giving you up for adoption I believed that you would be better off in a country where you would be given an equal chance.

The reason I did not give you up for domestic adoption was that children adopted in Korea, even if they are not born out of wedlock, are discriminated against and looked down upon. Even if your adoptive parents tried to keep the fact of your adoption a secret, eventually it would be revealed. When I considered how you would be shocked when you found out too late that you had been adopted, I had to decide that it would be best for you to be adopted abroad." (pages 44,45)

It is not easy to give up a child, period. It certainly cannot be easy to send them away to a foreign country. Another reason for choosing an international adoption, by the way, is also because in Korea all domestic adoptions are closed. That means that once the mother has relinquished her parenting rights, she would never hear from or of the child again. International adoptions are becoming more open (as I can personally testify having gone over paperwork and interviews) so a mother giving up her child to a foreign family has a chance in being able to remain in or reestablish contact with her child in the future. It's a hopeful move on several fronts. It's a move of trust and of great love, devotion and sacrifice.

One other thing that impressed me with this book is that the mothers are very harsh with themselves. They either beg for forgiveness or think themselves unworthy of it. They hope and pray their children will forgive them. It reminds me of how much I personally have been forgiven as a child of God -- and how important it is to raise all my children according to Jesus' principles of forgiveness. To love as God loves is our greatest challenge no matter what choice or situation we find ourselves in.

In becoming adopted children of God we are forgiven much. In choosing to pursue an earthly adoption, we must forgive and love. The birth mother must accept forgiveness and re-learn what it means to love. The child must grow in love and ultimately forgive. It is a whole and perfect agony and yet beautiful beyond description.

This book is an excellent resource for anyone even thinking about the topic of adoption - pro or con. It's a "fly on the wall" approach to what the birth mother is feeling and thinking. It is a book about respect and forgiveness and I cannot recommend it more highly. It will move you. It will break your heart. And that's exactly the position God wants me to be in right now.

1 comment:

Amydeanne said...

that looks like a great book!

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