I used to feel like a nameless, faceless child who had left her birth country. Adopted from Korea at 6 months old, I never had any conscious memories of my birth family or my country of origin. I never believed that anyone in Korea had any second thoughts about me.
Growing up, I hid my Korean-self so well that I even fooled myself into thinking that I looked like the people I so longed to be like. My differences were mostly forgotten until some cruel child slanted their eyes and taunted me saying, “Chinese, Japanese!” They had no idea where I was from, but then again, neither did I. I cringed at the idea of being Korean, of being so different. I longed to look like the rest of my family and my beautiful blonde friends with eyelids that folded around big round eyes.
I hid the real “me” so well as a child that it was easy to do so again through the mothering years composed of caring for three children, countless play dates and repetitious library story times. The sheer exhaustion from the long, isolating days and sleepless breastfeeding nights did not allow much time to remember who I was, let alone distinguish myself from any other mom with the exact same schedule.
However, even fear and exhaustion couldn’t completely suppress the need to be known; to be reminded that I mattered and fulfill the longing to uncover the “me” underneath the piles of laundry, dirty diapers and feelings of displacement and confusion.
One of the most self-affirming things in my life was when I journeyed back to Korea on a motherland tour with a group of adoptees. While touring our adoption agency, I passed a Korean woman in a narrow hallway; she looked straight at me and spoke. Our translator explained to me, “She said you looked like one of her foster babies.” That was the first time I realized someone in Korea had given a second thought about me. Until that moment, I believed that I had left Korea without being a thought or care to anyone – truly a nameless, faceless child. Yet this foster mom, who had cared for many children over the years, remembered the face of each baby she had held and cared for. She affirmed, regardless if she was my foster mom or not, that I mattered: I was known. I was remembered.
Isn’t that what we all long for at some point in our lives, when we’re feeling invisible and overshadowed by life, to hear someone say, “I see you. I know you”? To be called out from underneath the nursing blanket in the middle of the night or the unending pile of laundry, and to know that someone truly notices and cares whether or not you’re occupying that little patch of you on this earth. Our creator puts reminders in our lives in the form of signs, realizations or people to illustrate his steadfast love. And it’s at just the right times when he nudges us to remember just who we really are.
Jinny Jordan is the Editorial Manager for The MOPS Magazine and The MOPS Blog. Previously, she wrote and edited an adoptee column for Adoption Today. Currently, she juggles life with her hubby, Tim, and three kiddos (14, 9 and 4), all the while trying to curb her “Real Housewives” addiction and sneaking in a shower from time to time.
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