39 pages • 1 hour readNicole Chung
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All You Can Ever Know centers upon the myths surrounding adoption. Over the course of the memoir, Nicole gradually becomes more aware of how certain myths shaped her life and her views of both her adoptive family and her birth family. In seeking to undercover the truth behind the myths, Nicole eventually develops a deeper awareness of how complex adoption can be, both in terms of its joys and its heartbreaks.
One of the aspects of the myth of adoption concerns selfless birth parents willingly giving up a baby to ensure a better life for their offspring. Nicole recalls her mother’s explanation from her childhood: “Your birth parents had just moved here from Korea. They thought they wouldn’t be able to give you the life you deserved” (27). Nicole first heard the story when she was three or four years old, but her adoptive mother repeated it throughout her childhood. She sometimes added details to satisfy Nicole’s curiosity, all of which emphasized her birth parents’ love and devotion to her: “Your birth parents were very sad they couldn’t keep you, but they thought adoption was the best thing for you” (28, emphasis added). By the time Nicole was six years old, she had heard the story of the loving birth parents who selflessly put her up for adoption so many times she could recite it from memory.