Thursday, August 2, 2007

an unexpected gift

Yesterday we received a surprise in the mail: a letter and small gift from "Mrs. Kim," Alex's foster mom in Korea!

Until it actually happened, I wouldn't have believed how much this would mean to me. The letter was addressed "My beloved Da Eun" and "Dearest lovely Da Eun" (English translation, of course.) Mrs. Kim thanked Alex for growing up so well and said how much she appreciated all the pictures we sent. She said she is still caring for little babies and "they are all so precious in their own way." She also sent a little package of hair accessories for Alex to wear. Incredibly sweet!

I got out the photograph of Alex with her foster mom, which had been put away for a while. I showed it to Alex and explained to her about her foster mom who took care of her when she was a baby. A couple months ago I started explaining to her how she was born in Korea, but I'm not sure how much she gets it. In a way, this letter and gift were the perfect catalyst for me to reinforce the story I've been trying to tell her - the story of her beginnings. For a while I wasn't putting too much effort into it, because she's so young, but I'm convinced it's never too early. I expect we'll be talking about it with Alex and Sam through all their developmental stages, and bit by bit, as they grow, the story will become part of their identity.

I read in an adoption magazine that it's a good idea to practice telling your children their adoption stories, even when they're babies, because then by the time they can understand it you'll be used to talking about it and hopefully it won't feel strained or awkward. At the time, I thought it was a little silly, but the first couple times I talked to Alex about it, it was harder than I thought to find the right words. It's getting easier.

I have a friend with an adopted daughter who doesn't seem to want to acknowledge her daughter's birth parents at all. She's afraid it would be traumatic and she (the mom) really believes that her birth mom had (and has) no significant place in her daughter's life anyway. I can understand that viewpoint, but I wonder what that does to her daughter's image of her own biological mother and her own identity. Like all adoptive moms, I suppose, we will have to figure out what is the best approach for our families. I hope Alex and Sam will never fear talking with me about their birth moms.

Alex's birthday party is approaching and I'm thinking about having a green candle burning during the party in honor of her Korean mom, like we did last year. In addition, I'm considering adding other candles to represent her foster mom and dad, and myself and Bryan. I'm hoping this will encourage people to see, acknowledge, and be thankful for all the people who have loved and cared for her.


Mommavia said...

Very sweet!

Have you made (or gotten made) an album of your trip to Korea to bring home Alex? Jack likes looking at the pictures of our trip (in and out of the album...not quite done) and we talk about his adoption. It's been great practice for me.

Recently we bought 2 placemats at Wal-Mart, one has a map of the US, the other a map of the World. Each has been great...the US map we talk about where we live and point out where all our family lives. Jack understands that we live on green, Sophie will be moving to pink, Granpa is on orange...on and on.

The World map has been quite the useful tool for talking about Jack's birthcountry. Ian was born in Australia so we talk about all the place we were all born...and Jack says, "I live on tiny pink. That's my Korea." And we talk all about his foster family and Korean parents.

Who knew a placemat could do so much?!

Tammy said...

How cool that you heard from Alex's foster mom! That is really sweet :). Sorry I missed your call tonight. Will try to call later.