Instead of the usual feeling of ‘oh my god I am getting older’ on my birthday I am filled with a different emotion each year on the 6th of June. I am very fortunate to have such an amazing family, husband, friends and colleagues who all ensured that my day was full of happiness and surprises. And whilst most people enjoy celebrating their birthday (and believe me, I am no exception to this rule – our bartender at Jinjuu can vouch for that), I do feel a sense of sadness on it. Partly because back in 1987, the 6th of June wasn’t a happy day for all involved; it was a day, I’m sure, that must have been heartbreaking for my birth mother.
This year was a particular thought provoking birthday, what with preparing to head to South Korea in a month’s time. A year in to my birth family search, I received an email from my adoption case worker asking for a letter to draft to my birth mother in the event that they locate her. I decided to write this letter to her on my birthday – I’m poetic like that 😉
Some adoptees that I’ve spoken with have had similar feelings. Many say they feel sad or even angry on their birthday. In Twinsters, Anais says she never refers to 19th November as her birthday because she ‘didn’t mean anything to anyone’ on this date. It wasn’t until a date in March, when she was with her adopted family in France, that she refers to as her ‘birthday’.
For me, my birthday is a day tinged with sadness and loss. After all, it was the day when the first person that met you, who brought you in to this world, subsequently decided to give you up. And that, for all its explanations is at times a difficult fact to acknowledge. However, a lot of good came out of it as well. One woman may have had to make the most difficult decision in her life; for another, her prayers were answered.
My favourite poem called ‘Legacy of an Adopted Child’ sums this up perfectly. I feel it’s important to celebrate my birthday for all the good that came out of it and the family I was lucky enough to join; however I can’t help but spare a thought to the woman who must have grieved so much on this day as well. I wonder if she’s out there somewhere thinking about me on this day and I hope when she does, that the feeling isn’t one of guilt or sadness but of hope.
Legacy of an Adopted Child
Once there were two women who never knew each other,
One you do not remember, the other you call mother.
Two different lives shaped to make yours one,
One became your guiding star, the other became your sun.
The first gave you life, and the second taught you to live in it.
The first gave you a need for love and the second was there to give it.
One gave you a nationality; the other gave you a name.
One gave you the seed of talent; the other gave you an aim.
One gave you emotions; the other calmed your fears.
One saw your first sweet smile; the other dried your tears.
One gave you up – that’s all she could do.
The other prayed for a child and God led her straight to you.
Now you ask through all your tears the age old question through the years;
Heredity or environment – which am I a product of?
Neither, my darling – neither – just two different kinds of love.