“After the Morning Calm” is a book that consists of essays written by Korean adoptees. The pieces of writing discuss growing up adopted (and Korean) in countries other than the author’s birth country. The universal topic of the book is the search for identity. Each author talks about their struggle for comfort with himself or herself as a Korean adoptee. They discussed the issues of growing up in mainly white communities, growing up appearing different than most people, being treated different, or those whose differences were glossed over by their families. Many also discussed how they eventually found peace their own way.
In many cases, adoptees find themselves having confusing, contradicting thoughts stemmed from their unknown past. They can feel anger, frustration, jealousy and remorse. “After the Morning Calm” gives a plethora of examples of how those “negative” feelings affected the authors and their ways of dealing with those feelings. For example, Kara Carlisle, the author of “Mirrors” describes her past conflicts with the way she looked. “…I stood in front of the mirror, I wept. Hurt and ashamed, I tried to really look at myself. Painfully and desperately, I stared. Whose face is this? Who do I look like…anyone?” Kara then describes the meeting of her birth father and how she realized she was no longer just a face. She was no longer a stray puzzle piece that didn’t fit in the world’s larger picture.
More times than not, if you’re adopted, your parents were not. This means as much as they try to understand how you’re feeling, they will never truly understand the internal contention that adoptees feel. After reading even the first essay, it was like the feeling of finally figuring out the impossible math problem, or when the doctor confirms an illness you thought you had but couldn’t effectively communicate your situation.
For any adoptee who feels like a really small, different fish in an ocean of identical fish, I highly recommend this book. The uniqueness in the authors, the stories each one had,and the ability for them to communicate in a relatable way were all things that made this book different than any book I’ve ever read. Any parent of an adoptee, this book should be on the top of your “To Read” list as well. Not many people or things will explain the thoughts of an adoptee better than this book will because of its blunt honesty and relatable authors. It will help open your eyes to the “side effects” of an adoptee with an unknown past.