Why It’s Worth Cherishing This Grainy Pic and Mundane Child Report

A Holt adoptee comes across a photo taken of her while in Korea, providing insight into her early care and also reminding her that the world is ultimately a hopeful place. This post originally appeared in May 2013 on Michelle Li’s personal blog, michellelitv.com.

by Michelle Li, Madison, Wisconsin

Spring cleaning has surprised me once again. Today, I found an original baby picture.  This is the first picture of me on record. As you can see, I had a Korean name and an identification number.

The picture itself is about the size of a passport photo.  I didn’t even know I had it.  It was tucked away in an envelope and then buried under a bunch of papers in a rarely-used drawer.

I remember picking up this picture in 2009, when my husband and I traveled to Korea to see my biological sister get married.

Nonetheless, one of the highlights of the trip was stopping by the Holt office in Seoul.

Jim and I sat down with a social worker, and she went through my file with us.  The cool thing is that she found a pre-flight report dated May 1, 1980.  Basically, it was a report that said I was ready to fly to the United States.  It doesn’t say a lot, but if you think of it, it’s the only record I have describing me as a newborn.

Most people get to share that with their moms.  But, I have a gap of a few months where little is known about me. Was I a good baby?  Did I do anything funny?  Did I sleep through the night?  A lot of moms get to share those memories with their children.  My mother-in-law often recounts how my husband was an excellent baby.  His younger brother, however, came out screaming and crying… and the joke is that he didn’t seem to stop for a few years!

Whether it’s true or not, we often rely on those stories as adults to give us some insight into our personalities.

I know my birth mother relinquished me fairly quickly after my birth and also opted not to give me a name.  I don’t know who named me, but I recall being disappointed when I found out it wasn’t my birth mother.  As an adult, I understand why she probably chose not to do that.

I wouldn’t change anything in my life, but I do cherish this mundane report.  It gives me a little insight into the care I was given in Korea and also reminds me there is always hope in the world.  A little nameless baby flew all the way to the US, thanks to some kind folks… and has turned out to be a happy, healthy, married woman!  That’s something.


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