Adoptee Fragment #5

Mark L. Keats

When you ask, they will say, “Your birth mother, she made a tough decision.” You will think, but she decided.

When you ask your adoptive mother, she will say, “I’ve always loved you, I’ve always known.” She will kneel down, and put her arms around you and look you in the eyes. “I chose you.” You will think, but you decided.

When you ask your adoptive father, he will not speak right away. It has never been his way. Instead, he will hold his coffee mug midair, purse his lips, consider his response. He will say, “Well, of course, what your mother said is true. We saw your picture and knew.” You will think, yes, of course, you knew and you decided.

When you ask your adoptive older brother, he will shrug, smile uneasily, say, “What’s it matter? You’re my sister.” Yes, you will think, it was decided.

When you ask your dog, she will look at you calmly, her tail thumping lightly. She will bark once, then again. And you will know somehow that the translation will be, that it has always been, decided.


Mark L. Keats was adopted from South Korea at the age of three. He earned his MFA in fiction from the University of Maryland and is the recipient of a Kundiman fellowship. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Waxwing, The Offing, Eastern Iowa Review, The Boiler, Smokelong Quarterly, and others. He is currently a PhD student in English and Creative Writing at Texas Tech University.

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