Recently I had the honor and privilege of compiling a set of discussion questions to be included in the new edition of Kim Richardson’s memoir The Unbreakable Child due out in October of this year. I first read Kim’s story last year and reviewed the first edition for Story Circle Book Reviews; my second reading of her book was no less heartbreaking than the first.
Kim spent much of her childhood in an orphanage and endured horrific abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to care for her; her story is one of both heartbreak and triumph. I have been immersed in my own memoir in the months since I first read Kim’s book so my thoughts naturally turned to adoption as I read her story this time. I couldn’t help but think about how Kim’s life might have been different had she been adopted and found a forever family.
As an adoptee I wondered many times over the years what my own life might have been like had I not been adopted. When I first learned the circumstances of my birth and the history of my birth-family, I sometimes speculated how I might have turned out if I had grown up in that environment. In what ways would I be different? How would I be the same? Is the person I am today more a product of nature or nurture?
I’ve settled on believing that the answer is both. As I got to know members of my birth-family I was struck with personality traits that we had in common, and surprised to learn that I had taken similar paths to those who had gone before me. On the other hand, my parents who loved and cared for me left their own hand print on the woman I grew up to be. I can be exacting and disciplined like Dad was; I share moments with my daughter that seem like deja vu when compared with some precious moments I shared with Mom before she died.
Regardless of what made me who I am today, the fact remains that I am thankful that I grew up in the family I did, and eternally grateful for the sacrifice my birth-mother made to allow me to have a life that she could never have given me.