- I know you think about Phoebe, our girl, yours and mine, every day, and wish things had been different. We think about you, too, with love and gratitude for your broken, beautiful sacrifice. I don’t know how it felt to relinquish her in this very room, but I can imagine it was excruciating. The social worker told me you wept. We will never forget your tears.
- We, too, wish things had been different, AND we can’t imagine our lives without Phoebe Min-Ju Jayne. Both. And.
- Her social worker gave her the name Eun Jung: “Grace.” We had chosen Phoebe for her, which means “bright, shining star.” And we looked at a book of international baby names and chose Min-Ju as her middle name: Clever Jewel. She is all those things to us—she shines in cleverness and brings grace every day.
- We love her with everything we have. Some people don’t believe a mother and a father can love a child not of their flesh and bone the same as a biological child, but we do. From the moment we got the referral letter and photo, with her adorable male pattern baldness hairdo, and her fierce look (which she still rocks, by the way), we would have taken a bullet for her. I love her as I love my biological sons—there is no difference.
- She has two older brothers who love and protect her. Of course, she drives them crazy, like all little sisters from the dawn of time, but they would do anything for their sister.
6. Sometimes, when I am reading her a story at bedtime(right now it’s a book of Korean fables, even though she’s a pre-teen now), laughing with her, or watching her stop soccer balls with her throat (true story), I wish you could be there, marveling at our girl, yours and mine.
- I know you are with her, in her blood, her bones, her honey-colored skin and face. You are with her in her abilities, her strengths and weaknesses. You are with her in her thoughts, wonderings and questions. You are in her heart, and mine.
- Thank you for doing everything you could for our girl. I know in your culture, it’s still extremely difficult to keep a baby as an unwed mother. I know you and she both would have been ostracized, outcasts, vulnerable to everything from unemployment to human trafficking. I will tell our girl about the circumstances you faced as she gets older. Because an orphan knows there is a big difference between would and could. You would have kept her if you could have kept her. Thank you for going the riskier route (riskier for you)—working with a social worker and adoption agency, and giving birth to our girl registered at a hospital. I tell her that her Korean mama took such good care of her by doing these things. I am so grateful.
- We have tried to keep her linked to her native culture, a culture we cherish. She likes Bibimbop and Mandu, which she will learn to make this summer at Heritage Camp. I’ve been so excited for her to learn Korean cooking, as she loves to cook. Our girl has Korean pillows, dolls, wall hangings and keepsake boxes in her room, a constant reminder of her roots. We believe her roots in Korea don’t keep her there, emotionally, but rather that they allow her to fly back and forth, from here to there, whenever she needs to.
10. We speak of you with honor, always. We know not all birth mothers acted honorably, but you did. It’s hard to talk about you, sometimes—messy and awkward. But we try, I try. “An untold story never heals, it just festers in unwanted behavior,” my friend Mary DeMuth says. You are a big part of P’s beginnings, her story. Talking about you when we see a beautiful Asian woman, or an Asian mother and daughter, or whenever the subject arises, helps her tell her story. It helps her heal. I hope you can tell your story and find healing, too.
11. Maybe someday we will all meet, and it will be hard, and weird, and complicated—broken and beautiful all over again. If our girl wants to find you, I will do whatever it takes. Besides, I would like to thank you in person, not just in my prayers.
12. You gave birth to Grace, almost 11 and-a-half years ago now, and it’s been our profound privilege to raise her and love her. Happy Mother’s Day to you, dear one. May you know somehow that your family across the world blesses you, today and every day.