By Jason KUROSU
Joel L.A. Peterson hadn’t planned on committing his life story to pen and paper, but what started as a short piece written primarily for his family turned into his first book, “Dreams of My Mothers: A Story of Love Transcendent” released March 1.
The book is a fictionalized account of Peterson’s journey from Korea to America at the age of 6 and the lessons he learned from the two most influential women in his life, his Korean birth mother and his adopted American mother.
Peterson held a small book signing at the La Cañada Flintridge Bookstore on Sunday and just as the story was originally intended for a small audience, the booksigning was not part of any extravagant book tour, but rather an intimate gathering of friends.
“Most of us never really get to know their mothers as people, instead of as the ‘Institution of Mom,’” said Peterson, who began exploring the idea of a book at the behest of his childhood minister, who had recently published a book of his own. Peterson had a short 8,000 word piece written mostly for his family, but was encouraged by his minister and publishers to attempt a larger project. Work on the book began in April and Peterson finished the final draft in August.
“It’s the story of two women, two mothers and how their lives are connected through a very rare human event called international adoption, a subject that touches upon a whole range of powerful human themes,” said Peterson. “It’s a major journey of the heart and the soul for the families involved.”
Peterson was born in Korea, an illegitimate child whose mother decided that not only adoption but life in an entirely new country was the best route for him. The next chapter of his life brought him to Minnesota and a loving family, though he was a bit out of place due to his Korean heritage.
Peterson credits both his mothers for teaching him the value of sacrifice and duty, from his birth mother giving up her son to avoid a life of poverty to his adopted mother who took him on after already having four children of her own.
“People don’t make decisions about adoption the way they make decisions about ordering a Big Mac,” said Peterson, who said the book explores both sides of the opposite equation, as well as both sides of the biracial experience.
For more information on the book and Joel Peterson, visit http://www.dreamsofmymothers.com/.