Recently, I’ve been writing a narrative about my birth mom. Instead of the story centering around my birth mom and me as a child, it’s about what follows after she leaves me. I’ve only written a few pages into the story, but I’ve already learned quite a few lessons.
Something I’ve realized is that I always write her as a perfect character. And as I reflect more and more, in every situation I have ever written her in, she has never had a fault, or at least one which I didn’t control. Because of this, I have forgotten a fundamental truth: my mom is like every other person on this earth--flawed and deeply so.
Weird enough, I never realized I saw her in this light until I started to write my story. Usually, when shaping a character, I use elements and characteristics from someone who has impacted my life. If my characters were to look in the mirror, I know that their reflection would be a spitting image of me. And that is why a lot of times I do abandon my stories because more of myself comes out more than I am willing to share. Through my characters, I have the power to channel my perceptions, thoughts, and even my soul.
When I sat down to write my mother’s story, I found it more challenging than I anticipated. For the first time in my writing career (if you can call it as such), I didn’t feel like I could write this character from the parts of me that I had never shown to anyone. Why? Because this character isn’t supposed to be me. This character is my mom, and even though I am a part of her story, she holds different values and opinions than I do. I came to realize that in order to write her correctly, I had to take her out of the box I had made for her.
Even though I’m only pages into this, my perceptions have already changed. My mom is not a graceful heroine, she's not infallible, and she makes mistakes that should not be applauded. She’s young, has her skeletons in the closet, and does things that she regrets. It makes her so much more real to me, and at some moments, I can almost feel her pain, but that’s not the story I want to write. My story will be one of redemption. It will be the microphone for those voices who have never been heard over the roar of the crowds.
At the end of the day, I am aware that this is only a work of fiction, and only God, the ultimate author, can write our stories. However, I feel this is a story that He has given me for a purpose.
He gave me this story to show that perceptions can be narrow and that adoptees, in particular, can have twisted notions of their birth parents, which usually end up falling in one of two categories - good and bad. This may not apply to every adoptee or even any adoptee, but I choose to believe that while every person is flawed, everyone can have redemption.
And perhaps that’s what gives me the most closure. I know that if I never go to China, if I never meet my mom, if our paths never cross, both of us are going to be okay. She doesn’t need me for closure, and I don’t need her for closure. Wherever our stories go, I know we will both get our redemption stories.