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Anissa of Fairbanks, Indiana

I am adopted. Born somewhere in the Seoul, Korea area, maybe…but definitely abandoned there. Left by indefinable people in a hospital to be cared for, sick…malnourished (don’t laugh, but I’ve taken full care of THAT part)…alone.

As a child I struggled with the abandoned part of my orphan story, even though I knew that it was the doorway to the family in which I grew up.

When I got older, especially after I had children of my own, I was struck by the sheer magnitude of sacrifice behind the abandoning. My parents would stress, over and over, that I was very sick, obviously my parent or parents couldn’t care for me and they made sure to leave me in a place where someone WOULD take care of me. An opportunity for a better life was given in that moment when they turned and walked away.

In my romanticized imagination, I dreamed of a woman who would stand around the corner, watching to see the moment someone found that baby and searched for the responsible party and realizing there was none, took that child into care…I think perhaps I’d seen “The Ten Commandments” one too many times, because there was often a floating boat and a river in that dream. Maybe it happened that way, maybe it didn’t. It made me feel better to think it did. That they loved deeply enough that they needed to know it was done.

I came to the U.S. at three years old, into a family from Indiana with ready-made siblings, cousins, extended family out the wahzoo.

Three years old.

I don’t think the enormity of that ever hit me until I had a 3 year old, and I saw what functional little humans they were. How clearly they could express their emotions, how deeply they felt and understood their surroundings, the bonds of family and friendship already strong. And I hurt for the child that I was, dropped into a foreign land, to people who didn’t speak my language…and I mean REALLy didn’t speak my language, not some teenage angsty complaint about the parents who just don’t get it…into customs and a culture so unlike my own that I must have been reeling from fear.

My parents have told about how long it took me to adjust to the simple time difference. My first English word was Coke. Grandma used to say that I was the recipient of the first baby shower she’d ever been to that the baby opened her own presents. They told stories about how often they would get up in the night and put me back in the bed because I would crawl out and sleep on the floor, unused to a mattress. Mom often griped that I was so much better trained for chores at three than I was at thirteen because I could fold linens and clothing, I could feed a baby with a spoon, I could care for myself in ways most three year olds couldn’t.

Three years old. Peyton’s almost five and I’m still wiping butts and picking up after her like the hired help. I’m raising a generation of slackers, people!

It’s been fascinating to watch my kids wrap their brains around my adoption. I answer their questions with all the honesty I can.

“Who was your REAL mom?” I explain the difference between a birth mom and an adoptive mom and what makes them both a REAL mom.

“You don’t have a birthday?” Because I wasn’t dropped off with any sort of identification, there are no records of birth, so my parents chose a date they liked and went with it. That blows their minds!

“What’s Korea like?” I don’t have a clue. I know as much as they do about Korea, from watching the Travel channel.

Recently, Rachael has taken a real interest into my life as an orphan. She’s seen Annie, I think she has this idea that my life was a Broadway musical, complete with Carol Burnett and a dog…and if so, where’s my billionaire?! I try to clarify that my life wasn’t like that, even going as far as making the connection of what would happen if we let someone just come in and take Peyton and give her to a new family to be raised.

I don’t think any of us thinks that would go well.

Rachael wants information that I can’t give her. What was it like to live in an orphanage, where did I get my clothes, what did I eat?

Last weekend Peter’s brother and girlfriend came for a visit and they brought some books for the kids. One of which is “Anne of Green Gables”. I read that book as a girl, I loved the movie, but I never connected Anne’s character with my life.

We were on our way to school this morning, Rachael holding the book in hand when she asked me, “Mama, did you know that Anne is an orphan?”

“Yes, I read that book too.”

“They just send her off to live with people who don’t want her.”

“Yeah, but they grow to love her very much.”

“But she was bigger than me, an OLD orphan.”


“Anne was just like you, mama. Just a lonely orphan who wanted a family, Anne wanted a family, mama.” Oh good grief, can you not almost hear the violins starting in the background?

“You’re right, Rachael.”

“Are there a lot of orphans out there?”

“Yes, there are.”

“We should get some.”

I wonder if Brad and Angelina have that same conversation.

Last week she wanted a kitten.

This week, she wants an orphan.

15 Comments on “Anissa of Fairbanks, Indiana”

  1. #1 Heather
    on Oct 6th, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Out of the mouth of babes! 🙂

    Heathers last blog post..Should I stay or should I go?

  2. #2 Lianne
    on Oct 6th, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Thank you for sharing your side of the story… your birth story. Blessings on the head of your birth mom and your adoptive parents. And blessings on you for moving past the abandonment and into a full live of love.

  3. #3 Double Agent Girl
    on Oct 6th, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Oh, isn’t that beautiful!
    It’s important to realize the deep difference between not wanted and not able.
    I’m glad you’re here.

    Double Agent Girls last blog post..Photography Thursday

  4. #4 Brittany
    on Oct 6th, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Wow, that line was priceless.

    And what a unique experience it must be, to see how much life experience a 3 year old already has as you raise your own, and how little you thought you were when you yourself were only 3.

    Brittanys last blog post..Woozy.

  5. #5 Ashley
    on Oct 6th, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    I could hear the violins playing, oh yes….imagining how your conversation went in my mind. But I have to say I laughed out loud when she said “we should get some of them.” Sounds about right. A kid just lays it all out there, like it is. I just found out today we’re expecting a BOY! (Woohoo!!!!!!) This is our LAST. I always say the ONLY way I’ll EVER concieve again is if it’s the 2nd immaculate conception. 🙂 If we ever won the lottery though, I wouldn’t hesitate to adopt (a child, and then a few nannies as well!).

    Ashleys last blog post..Cookie Got Spit-Faced

  6. #6 julie
    on Oct 6th, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Every time I read one of your entries, I smile, shed a tear, and laugh out loud. You have such a way with words.
    I can imagine you saying “If I’m Annie in this story, then where the heck is my Daddy Warbucks?!”

    julies last blog post..Just pictures

  7. #7 brandy fihsman
    on Oct 6th, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    It seems like everyone these days just wants their own Asian baby. Don’t they know that we don’t all wind up with little Anissas’.

  8. #8 maggie, dammit
    on Oct 6th, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    This is so cool. What an amazing story you have!

    So. Are you gonna get some orphans? 😉

    maggie, dammits last blog post..the talent show

  9. #9 Sarah Clapp
    on Oct 6th, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Your life is so colorful and intresting. I love that you are so strong and secure in yourself despite the challenges that life has dealt you. I learn something about myself in your post everyday!

    Sarah Clapps last blog post..Gracie’s Bed Part 1

  10. #10 Dan Cohen
    on Oct 6th, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Hi Anissa,

    Thank you for sharing your life story.

    A child’s mind is beautiful. Rachael has it right. If there are orphans out there that need a family, let’s get one. What a beautiful person inside out.

    Dan Cohen
    North Miami Beach, FL

  11. #11 goteeman
    on Oct 6th, 2008 at 9:36 pm

    Totally awesome post… brought tears to my eyes…


    goteemans last blog post..Free at Last!

  12. #12 Queen of the Mayhem
    on Oct 6th, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    That is too funny! Wonder what she will want next week?

    Somebody, somewhere did something right..because you are one COOL CHICK!

    Queen of the Mayhems last blog post..Sexual Harassment…..Elementary Edition

  13. #13 always home and uncool
    on Oct 6th, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Orphans, kittens … hmmm. Are there any easy decisions in your life?

    always home and uncools last blog post..Six Degrees of Quirky Uncoolness

  14. #14 inthefastlane
    on Oct 7th, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    I loved hearing your story and how you have made such a positive story out of your unknowns. Your positiveness shows in the compassion of your children.

    inthefastlanes last blog post..Light and Fluffy Day

  15. #15 Adventures In Babywearing
    on Oct 13th, 2008 at 12:49 am

    Too precious. We had a missionary from Haiti speak at church today and tell of the work he does in the orphanages there. I almost was saying the same thing as your sweet Rachael.


    Adventures In Babywearings last blog post..There Seems To Be A Problem