“open wound” by sume
When I was around fourteen years old, I was given another piece of my birth mom’s story. To this day, I’m not a hundred percent sure of its validity. I accepted it as truth because the void within myself had become a vacuum that sucked up anything related to her without question. Perhaps, I preferred that story at the time for the small amount of closure it offered; a closure without peace but closure nonetheless. I have since begun to doubt the truth of this version and yes, hope does rise again. Ahhh, how I torture myself!
From what I understand, my mother was living in a small village when she was killed by Viet Cong. I was never told the name of the village or how she was killed. If I remember the story correctly, I was found crying somewhere nearby. From there I was taken to Hoi Duc Anh orphanage where I stayed until I was adopted. I remember hearing that she was young, around 19 years old but I’m not sure if that’s true or a memory I concocted. Having accepted it as absolute truth, I played the scenario over and over in my mind. I tried to put myself in her shoes, think of what went through her mind before she was killed. Being a mother myself, I imagine she was terrified about what would happen to me. For so many years, I thought she’d abandoned me. I was so angry with her but after being told she was dead, I felt so guilty.
My anger turned inward at myself, at my adoptive parents, at life in general. The crimes against us just kept piling on with each new piece of the puzzle. If it were true that she’d been killed then why was I never told. The cruelty of it all seemed immeasurable. I had been ripped up and dropped into the heart of “enemy territory” with no allies, no way out. On top of that, the hope of finding my mother had been dangled in front of me only to have it snatched away. The attitude was almost one of casual dismissal and sometimes it seemed as if I owed some debt like an indentured servant.
I remember my aunts and teachers, neighbors and strangers telling me how lucky I was to have been saved from “such unfortunate circumstances”. The could-have-been’s haunt me as well and it’s one of the reasons I blog on human trafficking and a range of other human rights issues. What some people fail to understand is that adoption is a paradox. Adoptees must lose something before they are adopted and there is no choice involved. If said to a child, “I’ll give you a shiny, new set of parents if you just give up the ones you have now,” how many people would? The thing is that most adoptees aren’t asked. They’re not even allowed to voice their own feelings of anger, sorrow and loss without “gratitude” being rubbed in their faces.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I write about my experiences for my own selfish reasons. If it helps to prevent a few adoptees from experiencing the nasty things I’ve have to go through, it’s a big bonus. I’m not some kind of adoptee Che Guevara out to revolutionize the adoption process. Likewise, I’m not out for pity or even sympathy. I received plenty of “the poor orphan girl” sympathy when I was a child and frankly, it feels demeaning and patronizing. I’m all grown up now. I finally have a voice and am simply using it to speak out. Maybe it’s for my birth mother, too. Not that I could really speak as her, but at least I can speak for her. In some way, it’s as if she were a victim of an injustice, the crime being her dismissal from the one life she had a right to be involved in. Even if she were dead, her loss deserved to be mourned and her memory preserved because she was the reason I exist. She was a human being, not some tree to be cut down and used for firewood after the fruit had been picked and replanted in some other soil.