Nicole Chung was born prematurely and adopted by a white couple in a small Oregon town. Growing up as the only Korean person anyone knew – including herself – she struggled with how she fit in. Her adoption story was full of love and comfort. Nicole had been so tiny, her birth parents weren’t able to care for her. They thought adoption was the best thing for her. As a child, she of course agreed.
Growing up, she had more questions about her birth family and the story she had been told. Pregnant with her first child, she decides to initiate contact. From there she communicates with her older sister, Cindy, and learns how hard her own childhood had been, what she had suffered at the hands of their mother. The story Nicole had been told was not the whole truth, but questioning it brings her more comfort than it had.
This is a beautifully written memoir, one I had a hard time putting down. I was immediately pulled in by Chung’s story and her way of telling it, and loved how she incorporated Cindy’s side of things too. Although it may seem like a very specific story – about adoption and reunion – a lot about it felt universal to me. It’s about how you relate to your parents, the stories families tell, and the secrets that we keep. I also appreciated her thoughts on motherhood: “Just by existing, both daughters continually made me reflect on who I was and who I wanted to be.”
This is a very lovely, quick read that is moving and made me feel like I had a warm spot in my chest throughout most of it.