good-bye dear sisters

Last picture together at Taoyuan Airport

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.

My 2nd sister made a home-made meal at her home

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.

My beautiful sisters

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.

First day in Taipei

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.

14 thoughts on “good-bye dear sisters

  1. Melody

    Hi, writing to you with tears in my eyes…my son has biological brothers and sisters in Taiwan, and your story means so much to me. Thank you for posting it.

    I also am not certain that you need to apply for Taiwanese citizenship. My understanding is that my son is a Taiwanese citizen based on his birth paperwork. We didn’t renounce citizenship to gain his US citizenship and he still has his medical card and paperwork from Taiwan. You might want to ask some more questions about that!

    Thank you again for sharing your story. As an adoptive parent, it is so helpful to read.

    -Melody

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    1. Marijane Post author

      Thank you for reading and stopping by, Melody! I very much appreciate your comments. I did find out later from my sisters in Taiwan that I am still a Taiwanese citizen. I was elated. It meant a lot to me to find out that I’m still a national after all these years. I feel very lucky that the reunion with my sisters and birth family was sought after and welcomed by all of us. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

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  2. Mei-Ling

    Were you able to read any menus, or did your sisters have to do all the translating for you?

    Also, do they speak conversationally fluent [English]? Did you study any Mandarin before you went?

    Also, this:

    “So, I will continue studying Mandarin and may one day apply for Taiwanese citizenship.”

    When I went to apply for a VISA so that I could enter Taiwan, the Canadian Embassy asked me for my old Taiwanese passport. I showed them it had expired long ago (obviously), but they said that the social identification number I had been given was not anulled by my adoption, so all I had to do was renew my passport. I ended up not needing a VISA.

    Perhaps there is a similar possibility for you, that you can get your passport renewed or use it to get Taiwanese citizenship?

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    1. Mei-Ling

      ***but they said that the social identification number I had been given***

      That should say “but they said that the social identification number I had been given AT BIRTH”

      If you have documents that give specific details about your birth (not necessarily the relinquishment papers, but your birth), there should be a social identification number that was assigned to you at birth, prior to anything regarding the adoption. It’s probably in your (expired) Taiwanese passport as well.

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  3. Michelle

    Oh Marijane I am so happy for you! I had so hoped you would find your biological family there and be able to connect with them and begin lasting relationships. I have a friend who is part of an open adoption and she said to me that it is not just about gaining a child but joining two families to become one. Your time in Taiwan has reminded me of what she said. I imagine it is very confusing with both worlds colliding and you will have some work to within yourself but work well worth the gain. How wonderful to have your family grow so much so quickly. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

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    1. Marijane Post author

      Thank you so much, Michelle! I believe your friend has it right on. It is about joining two families. That didn’t really compute with me until after meeting my sisters and returning from my trip. I also think you’re so right about processing through everything now that I’ve returned-it is like 2 worlds very present in my life now. To join them together in a way that is balanced will take some time.

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  4. kelley

    This is a wonderful story and one I will share with my daughter adopted form Taiwan when it’s her time to explore! Wow it really feels like your sisters and you always knew one another and just needed the right time to reconnect. I am glad you were able to make the trip. Tien is such a blessing she personally helped us with our adoption and she’s terrific! Glad your health is fine as it can be so scarey in a foreign country to be sick.
    Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Marijane Post author

      Kelly, thanks for stopping by! I was so grateful that my sisters were so welcoming. Indeed it was a very special time of bonding. And, it was amazing meeting Tien in person! She is a true miracle worker!

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  5. Linda

    You did find what you were looking for, your sisters. Amen!!! What a blessing!!! I adore you girl, I am so glad God brought you in my life and I am sure your real sisters feel the same way. You are a gift to me and my sister by heart. I love you darlin. We must talk soon, I cannot wait to hear everything.

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  6. Sarah

    It sounds like you couldn’t have been reunited with sisters that are any more loving, gracious, and supporting of you. Happy that you were welcomed so warmly by your biological family, and that you chose to share your reunion with your readers. 謝謝!

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  7. jules

    Wow I have spent so much time crying while I have read your posts. I am so HAPPY that your trip was so great…glad your illness was nothing serious and were on the mend quickly.

    I have wondered so much in the almost 3 years that our daughter has been home will she have a journey back to Taiwan that is similar, will she desire to search for her birthfamily?(of course we would do ANYTHING in our means as well as encourage her to locate them if she choses) How will they feel? would they search for her? Either way down the road how will everyone feel about the adoption and obviously I hope that her birthfamily would want to meet her and would be pleased that she was raised in a loving, stable home, she was able to get the best education and be raised to be VERY proud of her Taiwanese heritage.

    The age old question especially in IA is it okay to take a child from their native culture and country? I don’t know that answer, and all I can do is try to incorporate our daughter’s heritage, culture, native language and a true appreciation and love for Taiwan. We talk openly about her story…. as she grows older the details will run deeper as will the conversations. We will be honest, we will offer her whatever she feels she needs to come to terms or to understand why circumstances were that her birthmother chose adoption for her. I can only hope those things will be enough…..or at least a start. Perhaps meeting her birthfamily will be the only way to understand or feel a sense of peace(for lack of a better term)

    I hope you are able to return sooner rather than later, and I do hope they are able to come visit you here in the US….how wonderful for them to see your life here.

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey and I hope you will keep us up to date on your mandarin(so hard) and how your relationships develop as time goes on and you have more time to foster and nurture those relationships!!! It has been awesome, amazing and overwhelming following your journey home!! Thank you!!!

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    1. Marijane Post author

      Thanks so much for all of your comments Jules and for your well wishes! What a joy your daughter must be to you and your family. I’m sure that she will greatly appreciate all of your efforts to bring her birth culture to her. I have definitely thought more and more about the “age old question” you mentioned since returning from Taiwan. I think it will take some time to sort through all of the feelings/emotions that being reunited with my sisters and birth family stirred up. It’s a new kind of a reconciliation in a way now. I’m so glad that you stopped by and shared your thoughts!

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