Opposite sides of the same coin…

24 Jan


Growing up – I desperately wanted to know where and who I came from.  I’m not going to pretend that desire was in my thoughts constantly, because I was just a kid.  A kid that did all the normal everyday stuff – who had a mom and dad, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins.  Yet in times of reflections, day dreaming, times when I could just be alone with my deepest thoughts – that yearning was there.  That need to know – combined with knowing that I could never know.

Accepting that reality didn’t stop me from looking at the personal ads around my birthday, on my birthday.  Hoping against hope that my mother would one year place an ad that I would know was from her.  Once the internet happened, I registered my search and combed the internet, looking for a hint of who I was.  Neither produced results, but for three decades I searched for some sign from her that she was looking for me, that she wanted to be found by me.

Now I am watching mom struggle with the opposite side of the same coin..

She has one blood relative left in her line, and the grief she has over the thought of losing her last relative is tangible.  It didn’t just hit her, but has built inside as she has lived through loosing each member of the small family line she had to start with – one by one – she has outlived them all, save one.  Realizing that without that relative – she is the only one.  She will still have extended family, some she is actually closer too than her remaining relative, but to her they aren’t the same as within her family line.  She still has us and always will, but we aren’t her blood, and that difference in this aspect, few people in adoption are willing to admit that when it comes right down to it, they may feel the same as mom – being an only would hurt, badly.

For me, I am proud of mom, and our relationship, that allows her to speak truthfully, without pretense, and yet, the flip side is realizing that no matter how much she understood our need, she didn’t really, because she hadn’t lived it, until now.  Perhaps she still sees it differently, because she knew them, and we never did, but I think she realizes that even with the differences, it’s still the same.  If she understood back then what she does now – I wonder if she would have been okay with the status-quo, expecting that we would just learn over time to accept, and live with, what we couldn’t change.  Probably she would have because she is pragmatic, and has always lived her life that way, and still will if she becomes an only, it won’t stop the loss she feels though, just like living our lives didn’t stop the loss.  (if any reading feel the need to silently judge mom on my behalf, don’t, this has nothing to do with me, or our relationship.)

And that’s the truth for many – until you experience something, you don’t get it…

While I watch this play out in my family – I am watching the wave of adoptees and allies speak up against the rise of Baby Boxes in Korea.  Again, two sides of the same coin.  Many of those who have lived the only life, are saying that the surge of Baby Boxes in Korea is not the right way to go, and the flip side, lauding Baby Boxes while mouthing platitudes of “it’s a shame” but still see it as a good thing.  I agree with the #BuildFamiliesNotBoxes side – fix the problem with education, instead of misinformation, work to change the way society views unwed pregnancy in Korea, support mothers – not just create another generation who will never know who they were born to be, instead they will be the only one.


Posted by on January 24, 2014 in Adoption, adoptive parents, biological child


Tags: , , , , , ,

8 responses to “Opposite sides of the same coin…

  1. Dannie

    January 24, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Hmmm not sure I can fully understand that viewpoint……I can understand the loss of ties to culture and a common link to the past family lines, but not of being a complete ‘only’ if one still has family….blood or not, but that could also the way I was raised even prior to adoption being a part of my life.
    But again it could also be cultural differences as well.


    • TAO

      January 24, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      Dannie – mom will still have family but none in her direct line – that line will end forever when both are gone.

      I don’t know if anyone can truly understand it until you are there. It has nothing to do with being alone or not having family – it’s to do with it’s the end of the line for your ancestral line. The last one.

      Some won’t feel that – others will. Neither right or wrong – just the opposite end of wanting to have a biological child.


  2. veggiemom

    January 24, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    What an interesting thought. I’ve never wanted to be pregnant and never tried to get pregnant. I’m an only child so when it’s me, it will just be me. I’ve never really thought about how I would feel about that. Fortunately, we know first moms, so at least we don’t have that to deal with but one daughter says she’s never going to have kids because that placenta thing is just too gross. I wonder if that will change as she ages. Will she have a desire to have biological children just to have a closer connection since her relationship with her first family will always be difficult due to distance and language barriers?


    • TAO

      January 24, 2014 at 10:01 pm

      Veggiemom – I’m so happy to see you and that you are all safe…

      I imagine some of it is tied to infertility, part of it is tied to traditions, and views, I imagine, your personality and how important things are. I can see that to mom it is a loss, something she never imagined happening to her – perhaps also combined with being old. I get it because I felt an only in a different sense – despite having and being part of a family, and another family somewhere. So hard to put it all into language that doesn’t dismiss those you love, but explains and allows for contradictory feelings – sigh…

      I think if the time is right and she is in the right relationship that she may change her mind. I was amazed at having that desire not so long ago – but it wasn’t something that could happen.


  3. goofytiger

    January 25, 2014 at 3:39 am

    Thank you for this, Tao. Thoughtful, thought-provoking, & powerful.
    (TAO said: I took out you name as I wasn’t sure if you wanted there or not – I can put it back)…


  4. Beth

    January 26, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    It’s not easy being an only. I think I didn’t realize how much of an only I was until I had my first born. It was then that it hit me hard, that’s when I figured out that what I was feeling for so long was “only”. I was very glad that I wasn’t an only any longer. It changed my life.
    ((((hugs))) to your Mom.


    • Beth

      February 4, 2014 at 4:25 pm

      I ran into “only” in the movie, Mud. One of the young boys who was being raised by his uncle was talking about how his uncle told him about his mom and dad. Mud, talking about his childhood father figure, said “yes, Tom did that for me too” “It’s hard being an only”.


      • TAO

        February 4, 2014 at 4:40 pm

        They used the term “only” – that’s very interesting…



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