She could feel the sore bump on her head, and her burning cheeks. Then a cold nose nudged her hand and gave her a little kiss, a tail was wagging, and the little dog to whom the nose and tail belonged tried to make her happy again. She put her arms around the little lakeland terrier and buried her face in the soft fur, crying out all the tears in the world, until there were none left. She felt utterly alone and abandoned in a country far, far away from home, still dreaming that her real father would come one day to rescue her from these adoptive parents who did not care at all.
The fact that they chose to adopt at all made little sense. It wasn’t because they had lots of love to give, or hearts of gold. When she was little, she was just for showing off, and they would brag about how generous they were to give this unfortunate child a better life. Later, when she got older, she was useful for doing the cleaning, like a house maid, and for being someone to blame for everything that was wrong. They told her how much money they had spent to get her, good money that the adoption agency in Korea was eager to take in exchange for sending her out of the country, away from home, turning her life from bad to worse.
I’ve lost count of how many times I was yelled at, or beaten, or both, and told that I was a terrible child. They said I was full of faults, and blamed it on my bad genes. What kind of parents would say something like that to a child? That I was no good, I was ugly, and it was all the fault of my biological parents. I mean, come on! I’m Asian, I come from Korea; they must have known before they adopted me that this daughter of theirs wouldn’t look anything like them, and that I had a painful history behind me before I arrived here.
If they had taken the time to look me deep in the eyes, to get to really know me, they would have found a frightened, hurt and vulnerable child, fighting the shock of being taken from the home she knew to a new and scary place. Instead they treated me like garbage, when they really ought to have shown this little girl lots of compassion and love.
Time will heal, they say, but this little girl’s memories have not healed. She still cries streams of tears, wondering what is the worst part; the utter sense of unfairness and injustice, or the longing for real love.
As a child, you should be loved for who and what you are, from the bottom of your parents’ hearts, because you are their child, a blessing in their lives and utterly precious. Growing up, there should be room for mistakes, for failures, because that is how you learn. You should be guided and taught, not punished for those little wrong steps, for not knowing beforehand what you are supposed to learn.
And as a parent, know that one day that child will blossom, and return the love that you have given. Maybe in the form of bouquets of summer flowers, proudly hand-picked and bundled together; daisies, cowslips, bluebells, buttercups and lots of clovers. Take the flowers, and look into your child’s eyes, see them sparkle with the joy of giving you something beautiful, and when two little arms reach around you, receive and return the loving hug that follows, and know that you have done something right to deserve this. It’s the ideal relationship between parent and child, the feeling of family.
She loved picking flowers, but she had learned that there was no point in bringing them home, because they simply wouldn’t be good enough. Only roses would do, or proper flowers from the flower shop; this little hand-picked bundle was just garbage. Her parents would tell her that the flowers she brought them were full of insects, and be angry at her for dragging them into the house.
Instead she had found and befriended an elderly couple living nearby, who always appreciated her little bouquets. She felt truly welcome, and was always served warm milk and cookies when she came to visit, as often as she liked. They even let her pick blackcurrants and gooseberries from the garden, to put in a bowl and eat with milk and sugar. God bless them for being so kind. Sometimes she would bring her little bucket with home-made perfume. The old man would smile and tell her that the flowers in his garden would go to a ball in the evening, when everybody else were asleep, they’d be wearing that perfume, and it would be the best flowery scent ever. Of course, most of his flowers were roses too, but she was so fascinated by the thought of a flower ball that she believed him.
Sometimes she would help the old lady pick currants and strawberries, which they would feast on together afterwards, with sugar and custard. Then she would climb a huge tree in their garden, usually accompanied by their big, black cat. From high up in that tree, she and the cat could look down at her little haven, the elderly couple’s house, and the beach nearby which she called her second home, a place where she could be just herself.