My mother is my hero. She was a single parent in the USA adopting internationally because she was not allowed to adopt that perfect “Gerber baby” domestically because she was not married. She always dreamed of being married and raising a family. But, expectations don’t always become reality. My mother would face many challenges during her life but to her those were ripe opportunities for her to do something different. And, she would always choose to do the difficult thing. Who in their right mind back in the 70’s would want to adopt Korean siblings already at the ages of 8 and 5 years old. These kids would already be shaped in their character. Not only that, but they didn’t speak English. Well, why not! Her heart was full of unconditional love and generosity. She was 30 years old, an Elementary teacher with a Master’s degree in Education and came from an educated family. She had a stalwart faith in the Lord and would count on Jesus throughout her life to get her through difficulties with grace and determination. She had already designed and built her home and now it was ready for a family. She could have spent her comfortable inheritance on vacations or material comforts, but no, she chose to adopt five international orphans. And, she never did get married!
The story she told me about my arrival onto US soil was frightful. I remember nothing before the age of 5 years and she said that 3 stewardesses were trying to carry a “banshee” off the airplane and that was me, kicking, fighting and screaming at the unknown destination that was bestowed upon me. My older sister just walked along sullenly with her face to the ground. We were not the model of happy anticipation and, oh boy, did my mother now realize the reality of what she had taken on.
My privileged, comfortable life was the result of her diligence in providing love, opportunities, guidance, and discipline where I needed it most. She anticipated that someday I would be interested in my Korean culture so she sent me on the Holt Motherland Tour to Korea when I graduated from high school. And that is where I met Julie at Holt Il San for the first time. Here I was with a bunch of fellow adult adoptees and here was Julie, a young adult working hard to make our visit easier. She was an orphan then and never had the chance of being adopted yet, and here I was growing up in the states with all kinds of benefits. I realized that it could have been her being adopted and me being the orphan.
What an eye opener it was for me to see Julie living in Korea, aged-out of the orphanage and with no family to support her. Even back then, Julie unknowingly inspired me to be appreciative and grateful for all that was in my life. I cannot take my life for granted but thank the Lord for being placed into my mother’s home. Due to the way she raised me, I have been able to have my own independence and happiness.
I married another Korean adoptee, and we have three children, 2 biological and one adopted, and we were so fortunate to be able to raise them in Korea during their formative years. They are such wonderful young adults now, and we are so blessed and thankful. We have a true appreciation for three cultures: Adopted, American and Korean. My mom’s legacy of giving back is something that I can do through Love Beyond the Orphanage.