The Sun and the Moon
by Julie Young
Five years ago today, I was given the sun and the moon. Somewhere along the way I must have done something so right to have been blessed with two exquisitely perfect souls. This is a strange way to think after believing for six years that I must have done something very, very wrong. That’s all I could think during my six year battle to have my babies. I must have done something wrong. Turns out, my son and daughter just weren’t ready yet to come to me. It is believed in some cultures that children choose their parents. I struggle with this notion a bit having been adopted. Why would I have chosen to come through my birth mother only to be given up by her? Confusing. But with my son and daughter, I have no confusion. I believe they were meant to be my son and daughter, in this life, right here, right now; that they chose us.
Having gone through In Vitro Fertilization (five times) I have some extremely early pictures of my children. The first picture, in fact, is when they were just perfect eight-celled embryos created a la the wonderlab at Cornell. Amazing. The next pictures are weekly ultrasound pictures taken from the fifth week of pregnancy almost through to the end. I was looking at this stack of priceless photos the other night. What a walk down memory lane. With the dates of the pictures and the notes taken on them, I re-lived the dramatic story of my one successful pregnancy.
I remembered the awful day on January 22, 2007 when the doctors told me to immediately start complete bed restriction because there was only a fifty percent chance that my babies were going to make it. How I sobbed but how I did not give up. There were times, even before I went on bed restriction, that I would get so worried that the pregnancy was not going to last (having lost two already) that the only way I could calm myself down was to repeat this mantra over and over and over in my head until I settled down, “My babies are strong and healthy. They are going to make it until at least thirty-six weeks.” Most nights during my pregnancy, this is how I fell asleep.
After almost six months on bed restriction, I remember the moments when my babies were born alive and healthy. How I worried because neither one cried right away. Then being tremendously relieved when they did cry. I remember being moved because I had never, ever seen my husband in the state of euphoria that he was in. The mixture of his happiness, relief, excitement, his being filled with such awe -seeing my husband in this state was, without a doubt, one of my best memories of that day. I was finally able to give my husband the son and daughter that, he too, needed to have.
I recently read a review copy of a book on adoptees as parents. In one of the chapters, Dr. John Raible writes about the notion of the adoption “triad” that is often used to talk about the connection between the birth mother, the adoptive mother and the adoptee. Dr. Raible discusses how he disagrees with the use of the triad notion because it leaves out so many other people; the father, birth and adoptive siblings, spouses, and children of the adoptees. I could not agree more. This is exactly why I asked my Korean mom to come and stay with me in March. There were many reasons for me wanting her to visit but the overriding reason, the one that gave me the courage to finally ask her to come was my children. I have realized that my adoption story is also their story. I wanted them to meet and to know their Korean grandmother. I am often asked what I tell the children about my being adopted. I have always told them the truth. As they get older, I give them more information. And they get it. They accept it. They do not question having four grandmothers. They simply embrace it.
At times, I feel guilty about the burden placed upon my children having a mother who was adopted. All of my lifelong adoption related issues, surely navigate the way that I parent. My hope is that my children will have a better sense of themselves than I had. That they will love themselves completely. That they will feel connected to all of the facets of their big Black, Korean, Italian and Irish-American family.
In my children, like pristine Caribbean waters, I see, clearly, the past, present and future in them. They challenge me everyday to be a better version of myself, illuminating the path, making me greater by our connection.
Happy 5th birthday to my Sun and Moon. Being your mother has taught me the purest form of love. May you always give and receive kindness. May you always know happiness. May you always be buoyed by our families love. Thank you for choosing to come through me, for helping me to grow deeper roots, to reach the nutrient-rich soil known as parenting.
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Julie Young writes about her experiences as an adopted Korean American woman with a multi-racial family. Julie's column "Heart and Seoul" is published monthly.