Yesterday was a tough day. At the same time, I spent another wonderful afternoon with my sisters before departing Taiwan and heading back to Arizona. I really do hate good-byes, even though I know in this case it won’t be the last time I see my sisters. We’ve talked about future visits and the possibility of them coming to the U.S. in a couple of years. It was hard to say good-bye nevertheless to my dear sisters who embraced and truly took me under their wings as their little sister ( 小妹 ). There was one event in particular that stands out. I got very sick suddenly the morning that we were to visit the pagoda of our mother and father. My two sisters ended up having to take me to the emergency room at Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taipei. About 30 minutes into our trip, I started to feel very dizzy and ill and asked to return to the hotel – I knew I wouldn’t make the hour long drive up the mountain to the pagoda. By the time we arrived at the hotel, I was so sick that I couldn’t stand and felt very close to passing out. The hospital was not far from my hotel, thank goodness. I remember a paramedic lifting me out of the taxi and putting me onto a gurney. I was wheeled around to several different rooms for tests, and I just remember thinking, I wish they’d stop wheeling me around. It made the dizziness even worse. To make a long story short, it turned out that my potassium level was extremely low causing my electrolytes to be way off balance. I received a couple of injections and stayed in ER for a couple of hours. When I felt well enough, my two sisters went out of their way to make sure I was going to be OK. My 2nd sister went to a nearby store and bought porridge for all of us and fresh orange juice. I’m now a diehard porridge addict! My sisters would not let me pay for the emergency visit. I’m just so grateful that they took care of me. After that incident I was, unfortunately, slightly ill for the rest of the trip, and we ended up cancelling some of the sightseeing that I had on my list of must do’s. My sisters and I still spent time together, but I had to slow down some.
Yesterday afternoon, my sisters took me out to lunch at a restaurant where they make the best dumplings. I don’t know the name of it, but the dumplings were amazing. I ate so much the entire time I was in Taiwan! My sisters said that I “eat like a bird,” but on the contrary, I always left each meal feeling overstuffed. The restaurant we went to must be a popular one because shortly after arriving, the whole place was packed.
The restaurant was close to my hotel, so we walked back and had afternoon tea. It was still too early to go to the airport, so my elder sister taught me a little Mandarin. She bought 3 little books on Mandarin symbols, made a CD pronouncing each symbol, and wrote out each symbol very neatly. We decided that we’d Skype each other daily at a certain time so that she could teach me one new Mandarin word, or phrase. That should increase my vocabulary within a year.
Now that I’m back in the States, my trip to Taiwan seems like a dream. Just yesterday I was having lunch with my sisters, and now here I am at home. So much happened in such a short period of time. What I value the most from my trip is getting to know my two older sisters. I know I’ve said this before, but their generosity truly amazed me, as did the generosity of the rest of my birthfamily. I left having mixed feelings about international adoption. I’m very grateful to my adoptive parents who will always be my parents. But, I also felt sadness and compassion for families who decide to give up a child due to poverty and the inability to provide for their child, especially for the birth mother. I learned from my sisters that my biological father relinquished me to adoption without the knowledge of my birth mother, who was not well physically or mentally at the time. My elder sister told me that they would play with me and hold me everyday after school at the babysitter’s who lived nearby until I was no longer there. Both sisters also told me that our mother had sadness in her heart the rest of her life, even though she never talked about me after I was gone.
From what my two sisters shared with me, my birthfamily’s situation was challenging when I was born for many reasons. They are happy for me that I was able to go to college and study music and be in a stable home environment. I’m so happy my search for my birthfamily ended in reunion. A lot of people wished for me that I’d find exactly what I was looking for before setting out for Taiwan. I thought that was somewhat odd, because what I was looking for was my sisters. Maybe they were worried that my birthfamily wouldn’t want to meet me; however, such was not the case. Maybe they thought it would bring some kind of closure. On the contrary, meeting my birthfamily is really a beginning. I can’t imagine now not ever knowing them. It just doesn’t make sense to me to have gone through life having never met them; they’re my biological family, maybe not the family I grew up with, but nonetheless, my family. I feel like I’m part of two worlds now, one here with my own family and one far away in Taiwan.
So, I will continue studying Mandarin and may one day apply for Taiwanese citizenship. I vowed to get better at speaking Mandarin, and my 2nd sister vowed to get better at speaking English. My sisters admonished me several times to take better care of my health and not work so hard. That I hope to do. Both my sisters and brother practice Qigong. Their lives are so much less stressed than our lives here in the U.S. I think Qigong contributes to their good health and well-being. I’m hoping to learn Qigong or T’ai Chi Ch’uan, whatever I can find here in Arizona. Maybe the next time we visit one another, we’ll all be able to practice Qigong together, as well as communicate in Mandarin.