The writer Christopher Gullmans (né Gull), born 郭俊文 (Kwok Chun man) in Hong Kong in the 1980s, was internationally adopted into a Swedish-speaking Finnish family around the age of five. He grew up in Finland and The Netherlands, later moved to Brazil, before coming back to Finland, where he found the love of his life. He married her on February 29th, 2020, and they are currently expecting their first child.
No matter the culture, no matter the language, no matter the child – one universal fact transcends every border, and every notion man could ever invent: a child is born to love. There are many things a child can do without, but a sense of belonging isn’t one of them. Unfortunately, this world is imperfect, and inconceivably many new lives are left without this foundational aspect of life. It’s no wonder then that so many people who didn’t get a chance to love and to be loved right from the start oftentimes struggle even as adults to love and to let themselves be loved. But I am about to have a chance at changing this for at least one person. That’s right, my wife and I are expecting a baby in April next year, and that’s kicked off a season of healing for me.
I spent my first four years as an orphan, and unfortunately, I remember all too many things from that time. When I ask other non-adoptees if they have memories from that time, most will answer “no”. Most of my impactful memories before the age of ten were etched into my mind well before I was adopted. As somebody who can vividly recall cries for his mother, long nights of despair, and the profound and soul-crushing sense of forlornness, I wish no other child would ever have to experience this. Unfortunately, I am but one man, and I can’t wipe the misery out of this world, but fortunately, I am the man who can take some of that misery out of one child’s world.
And that’s where this becomes so significant for myself, as never having met my parents, not knowing where I come from or even know what they look like. It means that I run into a significant number of existential questions on a regular basis. Questioning “am I a human being?” or wondering “did I just pop into existence?”, or “do I belong in this world?”, and “is there a parallel universe I was meant to exist in?” means that up until now, the very concept of life has hung by a fine thread.
While we still haven’t met our baby, this pregnancy is one of the most significant chapters of my life so far, as it’s making life very real to me. I am witnessing life forming and happening right before my own eyes. I am experiencing that part of my life that was always obscured behind an unwavering haze of uncertainty about my own beginnings. I’m seeing the possibility that, perhaps, just perhaps, I didn’t just pop into existence. Perhaps, just perhaps, I did have a mother who carried me for nine months. Maybe I do belong in this world. Yes, I must be a human being.
Lest I spiral down one of my dreaded meaning-of-life pits, I need to bring the topic back to what kind of father I will be. I am going to be an imperfect dad who makes mistakes. I am going to be a daddy who doesn’t always understand my child. But most importantly, I am committed to being the father who would never leave my child doubting whether he or she was born to be loved. I fully intend to make sure I raise my child as if I were raising myself. In fact, before we got married, I made it clear to my wife that I would want to have a biological child, so that I’d get to witness this huge part of life I was deprived of.
Now, I realise that I can’t undo my past and the trauma I carry, but I am also becoming aware that I carry a great deal of power in the things I can change for my child. That, in and of itself, is beginning to redefine many of the struggles I have normalised. No longer do I feel like my beginnings are permeating every thought and every action of every moment of my life. Those memories are losing their death grip on my very being, and I am seeing the world in a new light, where there’s a corner of the world that belongs to me, and a moment in time that I was meant to have. I am beginning to accept that my actions, however small, can have a huge impact on others’ lives. And it’s this new-fangled fascination for life that I am adamant in passing on to my child, so that he or she will always be able to see this world for what it is: broken, but beautiful, and worth giving a chance.
If you are interested in connecting with other adoptees, please contact us! Elias co-ordinates events and webinars for adoptees.