Nicole Chung grew up the adopted Korean daughter of white parents in a predominantly Caucasian town in Oregon. The story of her adoption, as told by her parents, was comforting. Her birth parents, having just moved to the U.S. from Korea, decided to give her up for adoption when she was born so she could have the life she deserved.
Her new memoir, All You Can Ever Know, details her struggles with finding her identity as an Asian-American, all while starting to question whether what she was told about her adoption was the whole truth.
Despite growing up in a loving household, Chung, a writer and editor whose work has been published in The New York Times, GQ and more, eventually became curious about the circumstances surrounding her birth. She also faced subtle prejudices her family couldn’t relate to (or even, in some cases, detect).
After college, she found a way to circumnavigate the laws surrounding her closed adoption to find out more about her birth parents. Some of what she discovered was old news—that she was born severely premature and had two sisters. Other information was more shocking. Like, for example, that her biological parents told everyone she had died at birth. She learned even more after connecting with one of her birth sisters, who revealed that their mother had been abusive and that it was their father’s decision to put Chung up for adoption.
Moving and intimate, All You Can Ever Know is a candid exploration of motherhood, race and the lengths we all go to to feel like we belong.