It’s hard to know where to begin a story that has taken a lifetime to unfold. And even harder is to try to convey a story that isn’t completely finished unfolding. However, I think it is the right time for me to share, so I’m going to try my best. My story begins 28 years ago, where I was born into a series of tragedies– as most adoption stories begin. My adoptive mom (Doris) was unable to have children of her own–and desperately wanted to start a family! So, she started looking into adoption. She knew a woman who took care of children in foster care, and her name was Ms. Pat.
One day a frantic Korean woman by the name of Ms. Young dropped off a baby onto Ms. Pat’s doorstep, saying, “You keep, you keep… the baby.” Ms. Pat was stunned and unsure where this baby came from. She knew this Korean woman from a previous incident where she watched her son in foster care for about 6 months. But taking on child to “keep” was a whole different story.
As things unfolded, it was clear that this baby needed a home. And she knew the perfect woman– my mom, Doris. Ms. Young was reluctant to give any specific information about my biological family, and acted as a liason between social services and my biological family through my adoption. When I was approximately 9 months old, Doris became my legal guardian– and my mom forever.
Ms. Young shared the story that my birth mother married my birth father against her parent’s wishes– when she was a US citizen, and he wasn’t. And in Korean culture, if one doesn’t obey her parents, she is dishonoring them, and she can be shunned from her family. So, when she married him, she was cut off from her family. Then, she tragically died when I was about 3 months old. Still grieving, my birth father felt it would be best for me to be raised by another family.
My mom (Doris) briefly met my birth father at a lawyer’s office to sign the needed documentation. At that time, she said he was very sincere in saying, “I want her to be part of a whole family. Please take good care of her.” He was also worried that he wouldn’t be able to stay in the US, without being a citizen.
After this moment, my life took a completely different turn. I was no longer part of a Korean family. I was no longer surrounded by Korean faces, hearing Korean voices, or smelling Korean food. It was then that my name was changed from Sherry Lee to what it is today– Rachel.