Excerpt from “Letters” by Kimberly Rooney 高小荣

In their creative nonfiction piece from SAND 24, adoptee Kimberly Rooney (高小荣) reaches out to birth parents who will never receive their letters, reasoning that “it might be easier to track down a missing limb than to wonder what’s missing at all.” The first page of “Letters” is excerpted here as it appears in the issue designed by Déborah-Loïs Séry. 

Image of excerpt of creative nonfiction piece from SAND 24. Image text: Letters Kimberly Rooney 高小荣 Dear 爸爸妈妈, One of my greatest weaknesses is assuming that because others have experienced something that I have, there is nothing for me to say. This has hindered my ability to apologize, my ability to ask for an apology, and my ability to write. I have been told that writing is about laying bare your experiences, that even those who stood beside you cannot know your heart unless you choose to share it with them, but I still cannot arrive at words that feel significant enough to share. Perhaps it is because I am writing to you, and out of anyone, more than anyone, I expect you to understand that I exist with a deep fracture within me, as though I have been removed from myself twice over. The first when you left me on the side of the street, the second when my American parents took me across an ocean away from you. I wish it were so simply violent as cleaving off a part of myself. It might be easier to track down a missing limb than to wonder what’s missing at all. I fear I am not being clear enough. 你明白我的意思吗? I will try again soon. 你的女儿

Kimberly Rooney 高小荣 is a Chinese-American adoptee from Jiangsu Province. They now live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with their cat Toaster, and their writing has appeared in The Offing, Longleaf Review, Chestnut Review, Waxwing Magazine, and more. They are a 2022 Best of the Net Finalist, and when they aren’t writing or working, they enjoy calligraphy, singing, and crocheting. You can find them at kimrooneywrites.com or on Twitter or Instagram as @kimlypso.