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I Wish for You a Beautiful Life
Letters from the Korean Birth Mothers of Ae Ran Won to their Children

edited by sara Dorow


Review by Susan Cox

How could my birth mother give me away?
Why didn't she keep me?
If my birth mother had really loved me, she would have kept me.
Does my birth mother ever think of me?

These heartfelt, tender, confused and sometimes anguished questions of adoptees also represent a normal desire to understand their earliest history. Understanding the past helps some adoptees put their life in context and perspective.

I give you all my love.
Know that your spirit is within my spirit.
This is the best way for you and me to be happy.

These heartfelt, tender, confused and anguished thoughts of Korean birth mothers who have courageously and with incredible grace shared their hearts, appear in the book I Wish for You a Beautiful Life. The book contains the intimate, private letters of 24 birth mothers to their children. The letters are as individual and varied as the women themselves. It is their distinctly different voices, in their own words, that make this book so powerful. The book exhibits a beautiful blend of words with compelling black and white photos of Korea by Stephen Wunrow.

I Wish for You is the first book to explain from an international perspective, the complex issues of birth mothers and the lifelong influence they have on the children they release for adoption. Editor Sara Dorow, who spent her childhood in Korea, did a remarkable job of bridging the cultural context which is necessary to understand the nuances which vary greatly from Western norms and practice.

The introduction by Han, Sang-soon, Director of Ae Ran Won, illustrates how far Korea has come in terms of understanding and accepting overseas adoption. Mrs. Han is to be recognized for her vision and compassion in helping both birth mothers and their children. Her wisdom and insight will help many adoptees to better understand their birth mothers’ difficult decision.

A note to parents cautions, “This book is not intended for children... the subjects discussed and the sentiments expressed will take emotional maturity...” A foreword by Jeff Mondloh and Maxine Walton, social workers from the Children’s Home Society of Minnesota, provide guidance for parents regarding when and how to share this book with their children.

I believe all people considering international adoption should read I Wish for you a Beautiful Life, share it with extended family to help them better understand and care about birth mothers and anticipate the day they share the book with their adopted son or daughter. The book has much to tell about the complex and difficult realities facing women with unplanned pregnancies in other countries and cultures. It also demystifies birth mothers and makes them real. By telling their story, it becomes the story of the children who have been or will be adopted. Though relevant for anyone involved in intercountry adoption, for international adoptees, it is a long awaited gift.

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