I have searched for my birthfamily now for a little over a year. What instigated it all so late in my life was the discovery of my adoption papers 3 years ago after the death of my adoptive mom. My original adoption contract had been hidden away in my parent’s attic in Louisiana where it remained buried in a box nearly 40 years before I found it. When I started searching for my birthfamily, I knew it would be challenging. So many years had passed. I was adopted in December of 1966. Were there any records that had survived the years? Was anyone from my birthfamily still living? Where should I start to look for answers? Who do I try to contact first? Little by little, I’ve been able to piece together bits of my past, and yet so many questions remain unanswered. My mother’s diaries and an old letter I found helped fill in some gaps. The internet and social media have been invaluable resources during this journey. I’ve done search after search online for The Family Planning Association of China, the organization from where I was adopted. Unfortunately, the agency no longer exists. I have emailed countless numbers of people who have in turn provided other contacts and resources to assist me. Still so many unanswered questions. Recently I had given up hope of ever finding anything or anyone related to my adoption or birthfamily. I felt like my past would always be some obscure thing. Last week, however, I received a surprising, but most welcome comment on my blog:
“Do the words Family Planning Association of China, Taipei City mean anything to you? I was adopted at the age of 3 via that organisation, but unlike you got delivered to London, Heathrow in the summer of 1970. The thought of going back to recover the lost, forgotten roots of my beginnings has been with me for a very long time…”
I couldn’t believe my eyes. I never conceived the idea that someone who had also been adopted from The Family Planning Association might ever contact me. I followed the link to the commenter’s blog to see if I could find any pictures of her, then immediately emailed her. After hearing back from Ma-Li, we set up a time to connect via Skype. I learned that Ma-li lives in Germany between the cities of Weimer and Erfurt. There’s a 9 hour time difference, so catching up to each other was tricky. On Easter morning after my family and I had attended service, I discovered that Ma-li had left a voice message on my cell phone. I thought how cool it was that she had a British accent! We finally connected last week.
I was getting ready for work when I saw the incoming call from Skype. Knowing it was Ma-li, I rushed to log on so that I wouldn’t miss her call. It was awesome to actually see her face and hear her voice in real-time. She held up a business card to the computer screen with the name Tze-Kuan Shu Kan centered across it. I have googled that name in the past thousands of times in hopes of finding something about The Family Planning Association of China. Mrs. Kan was the director at the time of our adoptions. I have a similar card with the same name embossed on it which I found with my adoption papers. Ma-li and I talked as long as we could before I had to leave for work. I learned that she and I share many things in common. Ma-li was adopted by an older British couple in the summer of 1970 and was raised in the UK. I was adopted by an older American couple, but raised in the US. Ma-li’s father served in World War II in the Royal Air Force. He was a pilot and flew a Supermarine Spitfire, a fighter aircraft used by the British primarily during WW II. My father was also a pilot in the US Army Air Corp and flew a B-24 Liberator. I wonder if our fathers’ paths ever crossed somewhere up in the big blue. Ma-li said that her parents were terribly old-fashioned and strict, as were mine. Her father left the family when she was very young, so she was raised primarily by her adoptive mom as an only child. For the most part, I too, was raised as an only child. Ma-li’s parents are no longer living, just as both of my parents have passed on. We talked about the difficulties of growing up looking different from everyone else around us. She, too, struggled with identity issues, an Asian face that stood out among the crowd. Interestingly, Ma-li is just one year younger than me, however I was adopted at a younger age. My parents adopted me at the age of 4 months. Ma-li was adopted around the age of 3 years. She learned from her adoption contract that her birth father was not around the family much and that she was relinquished because her birth mother was unable to care for her. My birthfamily also relinquished me due to poor family conditions. I know that I was the youngest and 4th daughter born to my birthfamily. Ma-li feels strongly that she, too, has siblings somewhere out there.
I wish that we could have chatted longer. I’m amazed that she found me through my blog. What are the chances of that happening? Ma-li and I ended our conversation more motivated to, as she said, “recover the lost forgotten roots of our beginnings.” In Ma-li, I’ve found a kindred spirit, even if she is halfway across the world.
Pictures: Top – Ma-Li , Bottom – Me, 1 years old