We are privileged to introduce you to Shelise Keum Mee Gieseke
Was there ever any beauty in your life while you were pregnant with me?
"I’m 39 weeks pregnant. There are a lot of physical challenges to being this far along in pregnancy; a huge belly, swollen appendages, frequent bathroom breaks, to name a few, but, none of the challenges I have experienced have been surprising as there is so much practical information about pregnancy available. For example, I get a weekly email telling me how my baby is growing, how my own body might be changing, and how I might feel emotionally. However, none of those emails has ever informed me that I would think about my Korean mom every day from the day I knew I was pregnant.
The trigger for when I think about Her is every time I laugh. I’ve been fortunate to feel so much joy during my pregnancy. This pregnancy was planned, desired, and welcomed. My husband and I are committed to parenting and taking responsibility for our daughter. Our own parents, extended family, and friends have been anxiously waiting for us to start a family and welcomed our baby news with joy and enthusiasm. I’ve only felt security, love, and excitement about my baby. But, from what I know about my own beginnings, it is feasible that my mother did not have the same experience. Can a pregnant woman make a sound of joy when she knows she is going to have to part with her baby?
There is a book called “I Wish for You A Beautiful Life: Letters from the Korean Birth Mothers of Ae Ran Won [a facility for unwed mothers] to Their Children”. Honestly, I’ve only read a portion of the book, as I really couldn’t tolerate the sadness in each of the letters I read. All the letters had a similar theme; I wanted you, but circumstances led me to feel like I couldn’t keep you, I think you have a better chance without me, but I will always love you. Sigh. These letters are laden with so much sadness and foreshadow such tremendous grief that it really made me wonder what I experienced while I was in my own mother’s womb. Could she bring herself to ever smile when our fate was to be separated as soon as I was born? My letter to my Korean mother would be titled “Was There Ever Any Beauty in Your Life While You Were Pregnant With Me?”
The frustrating part is that I don’t know when my mother decided to relinquish me and what led her to make that decision. It is likely that I will never have the chance to hear Her story; my story. I am only left to wonder and to hope that one day I will hear Her truth. Meanwhile, I cherish every peal of laughter that falls from my lips and look forward to telling my daughter all the details of our life together before she was born and share with her how much beauty she brought to my life".
Shelise Keum Mee Gieseke is a transracial, Korean adoptee, still searching for her Korean family. She was raised on a farm in southern Minnesota with three non-adopted siblings. Shelise currently resides in Portland, Oregon and works for Adoption Mosaic. A nonprofit organization that provides adoption-related education and resources to the community (www.adoptionmosaic.org). She is also a co-editor for the blog Land of Gazillion Adoptees (www.landofgazillionadoptees.com).