A Korean Adoptee Birth Story (Four Versions)


Seconds after my first breath

a nurse whisked me away 

A bloodline 


like a snapped branch

before it falls

My birth mother laid in silence

her empty swollen body 

With eyes closed

she pleaded for another choice


A faded manilla folder sits on the agency shelf

Stark pages of my fractured truths:

Single and poor

my birth mother exploited 

a baby for profit

the transaction made

Documents falsified

Birthdate: Certain 

Birth mother: Unknown 


I am six weeks old 

nourished by my birth mother’s breast

the sound of her voice 

lulls me to sleep

Saranghaeyo, my beautiful baby

I was told my birth mother wanted to keep me

but like me, she does not know

how to reconcile with a stranger


A young woman descends down the jetway holding my small body wrapped in a soft pink blanket. She walks me into a room surrounded by a haze of fluorescent lights. I can feel a warm hand stroke my cheek as she lays me into a stranger’s wide open arms. I look into the camera. I do not cry. 

A worn photograph, 

proof of my origins

What is left to reclaim?

And I wonder which version

my birth mother retells.

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