Friday, February 14, 2014

Guest Post by acclaimed memoirist Susanne Antonetta (plus GIVEAWAY!)



The following post was written by Susanne Antonetta:

I remember when my son--adopted from Korea--was small, he told me he knew his birth mother and her name was Kimchi. He said he lived with her for a while, and at times he would tell his father and me that he sent away for us, and we came in a package in the mail. It took years to get the story straight with Jin—that he had a birth mother and a birth father, plus a foster mother who kept him for four months after his first few weeks in an orphanage.
And that, while kimchi might be Korea’s national dish, it probably wasn’t his first mother’s name.
            Now Jin is going on seventeen. He’s six feet tall (taller than both of us, so he stares down at the parts in our hair while we scold him) and likes to point out that we’re unfair and really really (really!) don’t understand him. Usually we hear this in between Jin pointing out that a) he’s hungry and b) he needs a ride somewhere. In a year, at age eighteen, Jin can use our adoption agency to search for, and initiate contact with, his birth mother. I expect the agency would search for his birth father, too, but though we always remind Jin he has both, he tends to think of searching in terms of mother. At age ten, he badly wanted to find her. As a teenager his interest has lessened some, replaced by the unending now of teenagers:  what’s happening tonight? this weekend?
                When I mention to people that Jin is this close to the age at which he can contact his birth family, they often ask me how I feel about it, as if my feelings are somehow the true north in the matter.  Mine aren’t; his are. At times people ask and then commiserate: it must be so hard for you! Or we hear that Jin must search to find himself.  I think the truest response is the least movie-of-the-week: we have and will continue to give Jin all encouragement to find the other parts of his family, but whether he does or not, it’s not our choice but his. And whatever he decides, he will remain his own whole and amazing self. We’ll still be his parents, and we’ll still tease each other (“Why would I look for my birth mother? One mother’s bad enough,” he grumps at me sometimes) and set off fireworks on the Fourth of July, and do the things we do.
                I hope Jin’s biological family—mother, father, siblings if there are any-- turn out to be the lovely people I’m guessing they will be, given the Jin I know; they’re alive for me in him. I hope he loves them. Love is the ultimate renewable resource: I don’t love my husband less, but more, because I love my son; I don’t love either of them less because I have a tight and beloved circle of friends. We love each person we love differently, and the love you feel for the woman that made you and the woman who raised you from infancy must be different: not less, just not the same. I envy languages like classical Greek that have more than one word for love, but even four or five words wouldn’t be enough: we need one for every person. Let’s call Jin’s love for me Moe and his love for his dad Larry and the love he may feel for his birth mother Curly, because while they have things in common, each is its own unique relationship.

                So: all I can say for sure is that odds are, Jin’s birth mom’s name is not Kimchi. Beyond that it’s part of the mystery of his future—the life beyond the start we’ve given him, full of loves we don’t know yet but I imagine we’ll share.



I was sent Susanne Antonetta's latest book free of charge.  I was under no obligation to review it on my blog or give it a favorable review.  This book is such a fantastic fit with the message of this blog, I am thrilled to recommend it.  On the surface it is a book about the adoption and raising of her son, Jin, from Korea, but it really is so much more.  Becoming a mother, the intensity of love, the funny moments and the hard stuff.  All of which she shares honestly and with a huge amount of grace.


Susanne has generously donated 2 signed copies of  Make Me a Mother.  When you leave a comment, you will automatically be entered to win a copy.  I will draw 2 names next Friday, February 21, 2014 and announce the winners in the comment section of this post (and then I will ask you to go to 'contact me' with your address, so I can send your book to you.)

18 comments:

  1. I had a chat with my Mom yesterday and we were talking about the time I stayed with her and Dad for a few weeks before moving to Seattle. I was in my 30's - had a teenage daughter of my own - but Mom waited up and lectured me for being out past 3am with my friends. I told her that - at the time - I was horrified and offended....but now, looking back..it doesn't matter how old they get. They are always your babies. You see the adult they've become, but you also see the fragile baby that you held in your hands and felt that love for that goes beyond description. It doesn't matter if you carried that child under your heart or against it, that tie is timeless.

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  2. The book looks great- thank you for sharing!

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  3. Wow, Alison. You and Susanne are so clearly like-minded. While your circumstances are different, your perspectives are so similar.

    Susanne, well said!

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  4. I too hear a lot of responses about how hard it must be that my son talks about his birth mother. I think people just haven't given it a lot of thought. Of course its not hard. His love for her does not threaten his love for me, they are two separate relationships. I'm so thankful that he talks about her, and loves her, and shares that with me. I would love to read more of what this author has to share.

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  5. I've been reading more and more about international adoption lately and that's the biggest part that holds me back for now - not having direct communication with the birth family. That's something I really wanted when we first started pursing domestic adoption.. and what we got when we adopted our only son. Helping a child understand their adoption without that birth family connection is scary to me, so I'm trying to prepare my mind for that if/when we decide to pursue an international adoption. I'm glad there are so many people sharing their stories.

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  6. This book sounds amazing! I'd love to read more of this story. The title so resonates with me as I dream of the day that I will become a mother - hopefully sooner rather than later as we wait on our adoption process to follow God's timeline. Thanks for the opportunity to win :)

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  7. I really enjoyed this blog, she really reminds me of you and the way you think about adoption.
    Being a birth.mother myself, I am so glad that adoption isn't as secret as it was so many years ago.
    It's not something that birth mothers have to be ashamed off, and can talk about. They told us we could never try to find our birth children. Now they tell girls abortion is the right thing to do.
    I love your blog Alison.

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  8. This is an amazing story. I'm glad that he might be able to find his birth parents.

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  9. Yesterday we sent our dossier off to Guyana. This looks like a great read while waiting for the next step!

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  10. Great post! Thanks for the chance to win a copy of the book--it sounds like a good one.

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  11. And our WINNERS are…Anne Seichter and Kessa!

    Thanks you all for your comments!

    Anne and Kessa, please use 'contact me' to give me your mailing addresses so I can get this fantastic book off to you!

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  12. Thanks all of you for your comments and enthusiasm! Best, Susanne

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