happy mother’s day

me and momWishing all the mom’s out there a very happy Mother’s Day! My family and I went to my favorite vegan restaurant this afternoon, Mead’s Green Door Cafe, in Orange. I had the Vegan-terranean Pizza and a Salted Caramel Mocha- both were most delish!

Some of the happiest memories of my mom are around food. Mom was a fabulous cook, and we ate together as a family every night around the same time. She also baked frequently from scratch, especially around the holidays. I loved my mom’s fried rice and her apple and pecan pies! She made a really good rum ball, too, around Christmas time. I remember how yummy those rum balls looked as Mom layered them carefully between sheets of wax paper in a large Tupperware container – they were so deliciously round and dusted white to perfection with confectioner’s sugar. Because of the alcohol content, Mom refused to let me taste even one, although I remember sneaking a couple as a youngster one particular Christmas! It was rough being a kid.

I miss my mom terribly to this day. Sometimes, I remember childhood memories, and it’s like it was just yesterday that I was playing outside with the neighborhood kids on our green, grassy lawn past sunset. The fall months were especially beautiful when the weather cooled and the mosquitoes weren’t as bad. Mom and I had our struggles when I was growing up, but I will always deeply regret that we’ll never be able to talk as adults, as friends. I’m extremely grateful for my own daughter, Lexie, and for being a mom. Nothing in my life has been as monumental and rewarding as raising a daughter. She is truly the light of my life.

me and lexI also thought about my birth mom. I have a single black and white photo of her given to me by my biological sisters when I visited them in Taiwan. How I wish I could have met her. I will never understand why some things are the way they are and why they are not meant to be. Her picture reminds me that there is a part of my life that is unavailable to me. I’m okay with that at this point in my life, although there is a hole in my heart that will never heal. The absence of the woman who gave me birth is part of my story. Despite her absence, I’ll always carry her in my heart and hope that she is with me in spirit, just as I hope my adoptive mom is.

I hope you all had the opportunity to spend time with your mom and kids and family. To all of you whose mom is no longer with you, may you cherish her memory and remember fondly special times with her today and always.

rainy day & writing

Retro typewriter writers deskIt’s been a rainy day out in Long Beach, California. Temperatures have been steadily rising over the past couple of weeks, so the rain and cooler temperatures are a welcome change. Along with the rainy weather, I have other news to report. I’m excited to share my new book with you. If you pre-ordered a copy last month, your book(s) will be shipped tomorrow! If you aren’t already aware, e-book and hardcover editions are now available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as AuthorHouse. All other orders, can be placed here on my website via Paypal. Unfortunately, I’m unable to ship internationally at this time; however, you can purchase all editions via Amazon.

Writing a first book has been a tremendous learning experience. As a new author, I didn’t know what to expect from the self-publishing platform. I can’t say that self-publishing has been an easy or very positive experience, but I have learned much about the process of writing a book and self-publishing. Despite opposition on different fronts in getting my book to you, I continue to journey on and truly look forward to hearing your comments.

Writing Beyond Two Worlds stirred up a seesaw of emotions. Surprisingly, there were things I found myself processing related to my trip to Taiwan and reunion with my birth family. It gave me the opportunity to relive one of the most significant events in my life, and the enormity of meeting and bonding with my sisters and extended family settled in deeper. I laughed and cried as I retold the events I experienced during the long search for my birth family and ultimate reunion. I ate a lot of popcorn and chocolate and washed it all down with glasses of red wine. The words tumbled out for the most part, although some events were incredibly difficult to describe in such a way that conveyed the emotional significance. Five years after my reunion, I long to return to Taiwan and revisit my family and cultural heritage. I continually wish for a deeper connection to my origins.

Well, friends, the evening is quickly wearing on. It’s now dark outside, the moon is hiding somewhere behind grey clouds. My days off from work seem to fly by like a rocket ship. Before I sign off, I want to send a very warm thank you to all who have already purchased my book and sincerely hope you enjoy reading it. Please send me your thoughts once you’ve finished. Author events are soon to be announced, so please stay tuned to BeyondTwoWorlds.com!

Book Release Date

COMING MAY 8TH!Cover

Beyond Two Worlds: A Taiwanese-American Adoptee’s Memoir & Search for Identity is now available! Ebook format available via Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Those outside of the US can purchase a copy via PayPal through my website. Order today on my website (softcover). Just click on the Shop tab above to order. All books purchased on my website will be autographed. If you have pre-ordered a copy, your book will be mailed to you on May 8th. To learn more about the book and to read an excerpt, click here.

Stay tuned for author events!

Pre-Order Your Book

CoverHello out there! I’m very happy to announce that you can now pre-order your copy of my new book, Beyond Two Worlds: A Taiwanese-American Adoptee’s Memoir & Search for Identity. Please spread the word and encourage your friends and family to purchase their book on the Beyond Two Worlds website. Just click on the “Shop” tab above, which will direct you to PayPal. All books purchased through my website will be signed and autographed.

About the Book:

What if your life story wasn’t what you thought? Experience a true story about two worlds and a woman’s search for truth, forgiveness, and love.

Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Marijane was adopted by an American military family at four months old. She grew up in a middle class neighborhood where hers was the only Asian face amongst a majority of white.

Raised to believe she was Vietnamese and Japanese, she never doubted what her adoptive parents told her, until one day, she found her lost adoption papers. This discovery unloosed secrets that had been buried for decades, causing her to question her own identity and origins. With brave determination, Marijane set out on a journey to reconstruct her past and resurrect a birth heritage that had long been forsaken. Her journey took her halfway across the world to eventually reunite with her birth family.

Beyond Two Worlds is a poignant telling of one woman’s quest for identity and belonging despite insurmountable odds, and will be of help to those seeking connection to their original families.

Coming Summer 2017!

Read an excerpt from the book here.

Beyond Two Worlds

I’m excited to share with you the cover of my first book, Beyond Two Worlds: A Taiwanese-American Adoptee’s Memoir & Search for Identity! We’re in production, and after reviewing the proof, my manuscript will go to print. We are looking at a summer release for Beyond Two Worlds! What a thrilling experience it’s been. I hope to hold book events in Arizona and California and especially look forward to reconnecting to friends in Arizona! The book will be available through Amazon and B & N online in hardcover, paperback, and e-book.  I already have thoughts for a second book and look forward to developing those ideas further. More to come…

reunion in vietnam

Last September, I was contacted by a very thoughtful 17-year old adoptee from Vietnam. Her email stated that she’d found my blog and that it struck a deep chord with her. I was delighted to hear from her, so I reached out. She told me she was adopted at the age of 2 months from Vietnam and that she believed she’d found her birth mother via Facebook after years of searching. She explained that she’d been attempting to contact her birth mom through other bio relatives on Facebook, but was unsure if her mom wanted any contact with her. Naturally, she experienced a roller coaster of emotions and asked if I could share more of my own journey since I’d reunited with my birthfamily. She expressed she felt it hard for other non-adoptees to fully understand everything she was going through and was seeking support and “words of wisdom.” I understood, as I have also experienced very similar emotions. The tug of war when searching for one’s birthfamily is not easy to articulate and perhaps even more difficult for others to comprehend. There are multiple obstacles, and yet the desire for connection is so strong.

She continued to write to me and one day wrote that she’d finally connected with her birth mom via WhatsApp with the help of her relatives! Her parents were supportive yet urged her to be cautious. Of course they were concerned. I was ecstatic for her and hoped that the reunion would be a positive experience. This young adoptee then traveled a world away to Vietnam to meet her birth mom. The pictures she took of their reunion were some of the sweetest and most telling photographs I’ve ever seen. She captured a bond that erased years of separation and a love that was clearly undeniable. I’m certain the experience was just as profound for her birth mom.

When she returned she experienced a tumult of emotions and felt very torn between both worlds, the one here and the one in Vietnam. I offered support – it takes time to process such a momentous event. She wrote that finding her birth mom really filled a deep hole in her heart and, she felt lucky that it all went as well as possible. Her school newspaper caught wind of her story and asked if she’d write an article describing her journey. I asked her if I could share it with you in the hopes that it would help other adoptees who are searching and adoptive parents to understand why reunion is so important, no matter what age. Furthermore, adoptees need support from their families and friends, and in some cases, professional support to sort through all of the emotions – loss, grief, joy, disappointment, sadness – the whole gamut. This young woman’s story resonated deeply with me. No doubt, her journey is not over. But then again, I don’t think an adoptee’s journey is ever truly over. Here is the article she wrote:

This December, my life changed forever. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I would one day find my Vietnamese birth mother—let alone meet her in person. It is a miracle. It all started this summer. Through Facebook.

I was adopted at two months. For the longest time I denied my adoption, but during my freshman year I tentatively came to terms with it, and began to explore my past. I discovered that my parents had a brief letter about my birth mother— name, age, city, and a line about her family—but probably fake. I scoured the internet numerous times, but to no avail.

That summer I returned to Vietnam for the first time, with my parents, eager to search for my mother. It was strange, to say the least. I visited my orphanage, only to leave with a torrent of tumultuous emotions. It was excruciating to be so close—yet so far. What if we walked past each other? I frantically scanned each woman I saw, but it was hopeless. I left discouraged and abandoned my search.

This July, we returned to Vietnam, and my thoughts flew to my mother. The same questions. What would my life have been had I stayed with her? Was she still alive? Out there somewhere? Did she remember me? Would I ever find her? It was agony.

Late one evening, I decided to search her name on Facebook. Nothing. I sat back in frustration. Then, it occurred to me to remove her middle name. One profile popped up. Ho Chi Minh City. My heart raced. I followed the link and almost had a heart attack. I had never seen anyone who looked so much like me. Those eyes. My eyes. The cheeks. Forehead. Smile. Could it be?

I went into a frenzy. I immediately asked a friend to translate a message and sent it to her. I checked all of my photos against hers. I grew more convinced by the second she was my mother. Friends cautioned me to slow down, be careful—we knew nothing about her. I might never hear back. She could be the wrong person. She might hate me. What would I do then?

I ignored them. I knew the risks, but there was nothing I wanted more than to find her. I waited a month, but no response came. I was not surprised; the account seemed outdated. After investigating the profiles of her six friends, I surmised that they were her aunt and cousins. Dare I ask them? I settled on the Aunt.

I added my Vietnamese name to my profile and sent her a friend request. To my surprise, she accepted it. I sent a quick message asking to contact her niece. The challenge was that I could not explain why; if she did not know about me it could ruin my mother’s life. I had to be persistent enough to catch her attention, but not enough to scare her, and I had to pretend I spoke Vietnamese, in case she got suspicious.

She wrote the next day. I waited with baited breath for the translation—polite, curious, but wary. We had the same last name, but who was I? Why did I ask for her niece? Maybe it was a mistake? I immediately sent the profile, but no response. For two weeks I hesitated, then messaged her again. She agreed to talk to her niece. Then nothing. I tentatively prompted her, terrified to lose touch. She said they did not recognize my photo. It continued in that manner all through August and into September; then she ignored me.

What next? I puzzled through eight weeks, tip-toeing on eggshells, and keeping a low profile. Finally, at the end of October, I plucked up the courage to try my mom’s cousin, who spoke English. I had to try twice before she replied. To my shock, she instantly agreed to help, without an explanation. She would meet her cousin the next day, to help us message each other.

Saturday, October 29th, 11pm. A message from the cousin; she was ready. I panicked. I had no one to help me type in Vietnamese. What if I lost my mother? Thankfully a Vietnamese friend was online to translate. I sent my mother the message from the summer. She read it and went offline. I paced anxiously. Ten minutes later she reappeared, How did you get this information? Could you let me know? It was late and she would talk to me later. Wait! I frantically told her, from the orphanage, when I was adopted!

Pause. Eight minutes later, I am [name]. When I was young I was afraid my family know so I ask to  orphan my child. After giving birth to her I had never see her again. The nanny had already took her…After read those information you gave me above, I believe that you are the child I gave birth to that year. I was stunned. Time stopped.

We talked for three hours. I am so glad to hear your life is good. I think of you always, but couldn’t find you after such a long time apart. Thank God blessed you to find me. I want to meet you again in the near future. I was in a daze. My mother sent me a photo on the beach, and all the tears spilled out. I am crying now! Tears of sorrow, and joy at finding you, I told her. I could picture her smile: I wish I were there to hold you in my hands, I am crying too. Thank God we found each other after all. Goodnight my lovely daughter.

All week we talked. I cried so much, she said. Thinking about leaving you forever felt like someone stabbed my heart into pieces…I’m so happy. You’re my little princess. I am so happy to see your message everyday after coming home from work. I’m so thankful to God and can’t ask more. Now I have you, my daughter. You’re the joy of my life. I love you so much.

On the third day, my mom asked about a video call the coming weekend. My aunts sent a flurry of messages. I was nervous, but desperately wanted to meet her, so I agreed. I will never forget the mix of astonishment, wonder, and bliss on her face when she first saw me, the raw love swimming in her eyes. We were speechless. We could only gaze at each other. Mesmerized. I met my aunts and grandmother, and they all cried and laughed. It felt like a dream.

I begged my parents let me to visit over winter break, and they agreed. We set off, on what was about to be one hell of an emotional roller coaster ride. The day we met, I was petrified. What if she was a horrible person? Or we could not communicate? Or disappointed each other? What if she was the wrong person? I wanted to hide in the car, but it was far too late to turn back.

My mother and aunt met us on the street. I tentatively stepped out of the car, and instantly found myself wrapped in her arms. I could not think, only smile. We walked to the house. I was met by a barrage of hugs and kisses, watery smiles. It was surreal. To gaze into my birthmother’s eyes. To feel the warmth of her embrace, her fingers stroking my hair. To listen to her soothing voice. To kiss her cheek. To claim each other as our own. After 17 years.

We spent nine days together, with the rest of the family. Leaving her was one of the most painful things I have ever done. Every adoption is different; there is no guarantee how it will turn out. But I am incredibly lucky. I found her, and everything turned out as perfectly as possible. Someone once told me that if you wish for something with all of your heart, somehow it will happen. Perhaps, but tenacity can go a long way.

international adoption connect

It’s been several weeks since my last post. I hate that I don’t have as much time to devote to my beloved blog these days. I’ve started a new job working in memory care with residents who have dementia and their families. Our residents live in a four storied community, and each neighborhood is designed to meet their needs based upon their level of functioning and stage in the disease process. I’m quickly learning more and more about the different types of dementia. My adoptive mom succumbed to Alzheimer’s disease in 2008, so I feel that I have much compassion for anyone facing such a frightful disease. There is no cure, and the prognosis is grim. I have a long commute to work, and the work itself is challenging. After I graduated with my MSW in 2015, I would never have thought that I’d end up working with the elderly with memory impairments, but I’m grateful to have a job, to be learning and growing my skills, and to be working towards my clinical licensure in social work.

That being said, I will always have an active interest and passion for international adoption and connecting to other adoptees. I’ll continue to use my blog as a platform to reach out to adoptees and adoptive families and to discuss important issues related to the complexities of international adoption, which are often not understood by those looking from the outside in. Just the other day, I was speaking to someone about a child who was internationally adopted recently. This person expressed how “lucky” the adoptee was to be adopted to America. I cringe when I hear such comments, which tend to be one dimensional, yet know that many are ignorant to the grief, loss, and trauma related to adoption, especially across oceans. Some don’t understand this perspective, but I’m certain that other adoptees know where I’m coming from. On another note, I find it quite interesting that wherever I go, I cross paths with other international adoptees or people connected somehow to international adoption. At Arizona State Hospital, my colleague and social work partner (whom I really miss working with) was adopted from Brazil by an American family, and the psychiatrist I worked with adopted multiple children internationally from Ethiopia and some other countries – I don’t recall which ones. I recently learned that an outside Care Manager who advocates for several of our residents adopted a little girl from Armenia some years ago and went back to the country a couple of weeks ago to adopt her older brother. They just returned to the States. I look forward to talking with her as well as her adopted children in the very near future. God has a way of keeping me connected to international adoption in the most uncanny way.

My hope one day is to further my work in international adoption. To what capacity, I’m not sure, except to finish my book, Beyond Two Worlds: A memoir, at this time. I know I sound like a broken record! I’ve gotten terribly behind in editing my work due to starting my job. It’s a real bummer. My goal is to finish all editing by the end of this month so that my editor, Allyson, can complete her editing process; however, it’s gonna be difficult. We’ll see. My publisher continues to press me to submit the manuscript, but I can only do what I can do. Despite all the setbacks, the book will be published this year, 2017, something I greatly look forward to! It’s the beacon in my crazy world.

Today is my day off. Sigh…We’ll be spending time with our daughter this afternoon over sushi. Can’t wait. The rest of the afternoon I’ll devote to writing. Tomorrow I must go into work for New Hire Orientation – on my day off 😦 Alas, I’m taking a day off towards the end of the month to make up for it and to write. I wish I had the energy after work every evening to write, but I typically fall on the couch and snooze.

Lastly, I came across the quote featured in this post this morning. It was just what I needed. Hope it inspires you too wherever you are in your journey! Oh, and we never found our bed linens (after our move)…

holiday greetings

Christmas is right around the corner! Where does all the time go? I found the Christmas book featured in the cover photo while out shopping and thought it completely appropriate in lieu of our recent move to California. This has certainly been a Christmas like no other for our family. We are without a Christmas tree or holiday decorations because we’re staying in temporary housing until we’re able to move into our permanent home at the end of the month. It’s also the first year that our daughter has been away to college. I’m trying to get into the holiday spirit, but am having a difficult time. It’s been so busy with all of the arrangements for our new home. Christmas for me has always been so much about family, decorating the tree, and holiday baking. Our daughter is currently visiting friends in Arizona, and I haven’t felt much like baking in such an unfamiliar kitchen. It’s just an odd Christmas to say the least. But, I have much to be grateful for. And I need to keep my eyes focused on how God has provided for my family and I during this transition.

On top of all the house stuff,  I’ve been working on completing my book and actively seeking a new job. I’ve been on a couple of interviews and sent resumes and applications to multiple agencies, but nothing has panned out yet. I’m excited to share that I had the opportunity to speak with a representative from AuthorHouse with my editor, Allyson, this afternoon. AuthorHouse is the publishing company we’ve selected to publish my book, Beyond Two Worlds. I’m currently revising the manuscript and working with Allyson to get it ready for submission. My book is a memoir and focuses primarily on the search for my birth family in Taiwan and reunion with them, but also highlights the complexities I personally experienced related to being raised by a white family, the losses and difficulties of navigating through two different cultures and identity, and the long road towards self-acceptance. The book will be released in 2017!

In other news, it’s been thrilling to be of assistance to other international/transracial adoptees who have found their birth families recently! I was contacted by one young adoptee, seventeen years of age, some months ago who, at the time, was searching for her birth mother. She was able to find her birth mother and other family members through Facebook and is traveling back to Vietnam today to meet her birth mom. The other adoptee will be traveling back to her country of birth soon and was seeking help with translating some documents. My husband and I are acquainted with a wonderful family in Arizona, Ted and Vanessa Lieber. Vanessa is Taiwanese and has graciously agreed to help with the translation of documents. It gives me great joy to be able to help and connect with other adoptees along their journeys.

Lastly, merry Christmas and happy holidays to you all wherever you may be!  My heart goes out to any who are suffering loss at this time. It seems that in the world at this present time, there is much grief and loss. May you find peace and comfort during this holiday season. And, may you all enjoy special time with family and friends <3.