MK n. 1. Missionary Kid - the offspring of a missionary. 2. Sometimes referred to as a TCK, or Third Culture Kid, (Sometimes also called Global Nomad) "refers to someone who [as a child] has spent a significant period of time in one or more culture(s) other than his or her own, thus integrating elements of those cultures and their own birth culture, into a third culture" (Courtesy, Wikipedia).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Woman's Choice

Somewhere in a hospital in California on February 22, 1973, a baby was born, a baby who would remain nameless. At least for the moment. It was just an ordinary birth, yet somehow different. At least to the woman. Maybe the woman held the baby. Or maybe she stood strong and refused to even see it. Or maybe after she heard its cries, she ventured a question. “Is it a boy or girl?” And maybe after she found out it was a girl, her heart softened a little so that she asked to hold the little girl, if only for a moment. Or maybe she instead stoically asked to be removed from the room. And as she was being wheeled to her recovery room, maybe she rethought her decision for the millionth time.

Ultimately, the woman followed through on the single most sacrificial choice a mother can make: Giving up a part of herself to make life better for her child. Adoption. The woman knew she could not care for the little girl as well as someone else; after all, the woman was a foreigner in a country whose citizens had just ended a bitter, hard fought war with her country. Yes, she knew that was the best decision. And so it was that 4 days later on February 26, a man and a woman who would become Mom and Dad took me home and gave me the name of Kathleen Ruth. This was the beginning of this journey.

If I could have changed a thing, I wouldn’t have. I’m forever grateful to this woman for her decision. Some have questioned my feelings about my adoption: Do I feel rejected, unwanted, abandoned? I even had someone ask me if I’ve ever sought counseling because of my adoption. I can think of some things for which I may need counseling, but none of those reasons involves my adoption. I have never tried to find my biological mother or father; however, when I became pregnant with Alex, I began a short-lived quest to uncover my medical history. It does, after all, become a touch boring to have to pencil in “Unknown” under "Family Medical History" on those endless forms in the doctor’s office. Plus, I really wanted to know specifics about the gene pool into which my children would be dipping their feet.

My quest was a difficult one because the hospital in which I was born is no longer, so it took several phone calls before I finally ended up talking to some bureaucrat in Sacramento. I was able to request the information, but because it was a tightly closed adoption, I would only receive non-identifying information. And they weren’t joking. The papers I received had many items blotted out, and even held up to bright fluorescent lights, not much was revealed. Not that the non-identifying information wasn’t interesting. It was, although medically speaking, not very informative. My father was 50-something and my mother 38 when I was born. My father had “sparse, white hair” (sorry, boys, since that comes from my side!) and was confined to a wheelchair. Polio I think it was, which explains why my parents were so careful to have me vaccinated when I was a child. Even though Polio is a dead disease and not a hereditary one, I suppose that concern was a knee-jerk reaction to what little knowledge they had of my father.

The papers were not clear about whether my mother and father were married, but they do note that their relationship was a short one—3 months, I think—and that, in fact, my father denied that I was his. He had a long marriage already under his belt, and somewhere in this world I have a half-brother and two half-sisters. They were, respectively, 17, 22, and 26 when I was born. “Metrologist” is noted under my father’s occupation, and I assume it is supposed to say “meteorologist.” My mother was working as a secretary at the time of my birth.

All of these details are interesting but not of that much consequence to me. In fact, I have misplaced those non-descript papers I received in 1999, so I am unable to even verify the details I’ve provided here. My adoption was never hidden as those papers now are; my parents were always very open about it. They must have told me at a very young age about my adoption because I don’t remember not knowing, nor do I remember the moment they broke the news. Additionally, they always made me feel very special, telling me they got to choose me. Of course, now that I’m older and wiser, I’m completely aware of the trials of adoptions and of the fact that, when you’re adopting, you take the baby “they” will give you because it is normally such a very difficult process.

I have no doubt, however, that I was chosen. But not by my parents. The choice was made even before I was knit in the womb of the Vietnamese woman in California, made by the One who never makes a wrong choice. I said before that this journey began on February 26, 1973. Some would argue that it began 4 days earlier when I was that nameless baby lying in a hospital nursery, and, yes, that is when my journey began. But this journey, this journey began when a woman made a choice. Because what I didn’t know at the time was that on the very day I was born, a little boy in Africa was celebrating his 3rd birthday. And what I didn’t know was that, because of the woman’s choice, my world and that little birthday boy’s world would collide in a town called Ferkessedougou.


CrossView said...

Wow! Just wow!
Honestly, riveting!

So many cultures, and so many paths, and One who can sew it all together. *sniff*

This is so beautful and I can't wait for the next installment!

Thank you for sharing your life and your heart...

thank you.

TeacherMommy said...

I don't know how on earth you find time for all of this, but I will be following your story...

I'm so glad we reconnected. I never would have imagined that we would end up back in touch two decades later and have so much to talk about! Thank goodness for Facebook!

Anonymous said...

O.K. I'm almost positive that I would still be crying even if I wasn't pregnant. Adoption stories warm my heart to the core. Katy, that was incredible. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing your story with the world. You opened wide a door to your life that I have never heard.

I appreciate so much how you titled your post. The choice of giving up a child for adoption has to be one of the bravest and most difficult things a woman could ever do in her lifetime. And just as magnificent are the parents on the other side of that choice who welcome a child that is not their own into their lives to love forever.

Maybe why adoption stories move me so much is because to me they are the very embodiment of the sacrifice and love of Christ.

Mitzi said...

More! More!

Kathleen said...

You guys are so sweet and encouraging. Thanks. TeacherMommy, I'm glad we found each other again too. I'm sure you'll be in several of my upcoming posts; I'll just let you be surprised, though, since you were not TeacherMommy back then. And...I'm stickin' to the name by which you were called at the time. Don't be mad! :)

TeacherMommy said...

That's fine--I still call you Kathleen because it's how I think of you! And you're one of the people who's allowed to use that name still. :)

4 Lettre Words said...

Kathleen! This is just too wonderful. I can't wait to read more!

Nishant said...

This is so beautful and I can't wait for the next installment!
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