"After the Morning Calm" is a series of essays by Korean adoptees. They discuss growing up adopted and Korean in countries other than their birth country. Whether discussing travelling back to Korea to meet or look for their birth families or heritage, writing about the families who raised them, feeling different from others or comfortable with themselves, ultimately these all are stories of identity and of finding oneself as a Korean adoptee.
I have nothing but praise for every author in this book, for writing with unflinching honesty. The editor did a wonderful job, particularly for choosing essays by people of all ages (ranging from those adopted just after the Korean war to those who are young adults now).
Most striking to me was how universal the search for identity is. I saw that whether age 24 or age 50, the issues discussed seem specific to the author's age. Each essay is about a search for or comfort with his or her self as a Korean adoptee -- as Korean in a largely "white" neighborhood or family, as people who appear different from others or are treated differently from others, or whose differences are glossed over by their families, to those at peace in his/her own ways. Yet while they are a striking and poignant look through adoptees' eyes, I was surprised by how much they represent an almost a universal time-line toward adulthood and comfort with oneself (expressed far better than many of us would at each of their ages) -- from "Mirror," in which a young woman at first resists her own reflection in the mirror, to "Love the Life You Have" by perhaps the eldest and most comfortable-in-his-skin author. Life is a journey, and these essays tell the journey to identity through being adopted internationally.
I bought this book as a prospective adoptive parent to see how Korean adoptees feel, to see if I would be doing a disservice or something great for a child. I wanted to read how the children feel as teenagers and adults. (It is, but not completely, telling in that regard, as the political climate and reasons for international adoption have changed with each generation.) I thank every author who contributed for teaching me about yourselves and for sharing your experiences and thoughts so honestly. Most special was the sincerity, whether painful or joyful, of these essays.
I read this book while in the process of adopting and I found it very useful in giving adoptive parents perspective and helping them better understand their child's potential feelings down the road. A must-read for first-time adoptive parents.