Category Archives: Adoption Stories

letter sent

Tien and I have been exchanging several emails in preparation for our trip to Taiwan. She’s been helping me with a number of different things, which I am extremely grateful for. Most recently, she penned a letter in Mandarin addressed to the registration office in Taipei City explaining that I’m searching for my birth family and asking them for their help in this search. She revised the letter a couple of times and had me send it back to her once I signed it. I have been printing, signing, and scanning the letter with each revision then sending back via email to Tien. After about the third revision, she felt it was just right. In the letter, Tien provided her contact info and asked that, as my translator, they contact her with any information per my permission. Our hope is that my biological sister’s address will be released to me once they see the accompanying documents that prove that I’m related by birth. Yesterday, during my lunch break, a co-worker, Jewel, and I headed to the post office to mail the letter along with copies of my adoption contract and baby passport to prove that I’m a true member of the family Huang. As we walked up to the post office, Jewel mentioned that she hoped there wouldn’t be a long line. It turned out that there was a very long line of people waiting to mail Christmas packages and letters. I began to worry that we wouldn’t have enough time to mail the package. Jewel noticed a self service kiosk when we first walked in and stood in line for me so I could go check it out. Then, I realized that I couldn’t read the address label that Tien sent me because it was in Mandarin. How would I know what the zip code was? Thankfully once I typed in where the package was going, it automatically found the correct city and postage. A postage label was printed out with all the appropriate info in a matter of seconds. The letter is now on its way to Taiwan!

I hope that the letter arrives safely at the right destination and in good time. Most importantly I hope that a reply is sent to Tien with news of my sister’s whereabouts before we arrive in Taiwan. Once there, Tien has arranged for a guide to drive me to the registration office and to meet with my sister if we are able to locate her (and if she wants to meet me). I wonder how this will all turn out. I’ll be in Taiwan for the beginning of the Chinese New Year celebration. 2012 is the year of the Dragon. Maybe it will also be the year that I find one of my biological sisters.

xie xie

This is my favorite time of the year. The cooler weather, the Christmas carols, the food, family, friendships, holiday shopping; the holiday spirit is upon us. Getting caught up in the holiday spirit, I thought I’d change the look of my blog. It all started yesterday when we put up our Christmas tree and decorated the house. Today, I just happen to be home with a sick kiddo who is suddenly feeling well enough to bake a pumpkin pie. The house is beginning to smell like a bakery. It’s actually nice to be home, to slow down a bit and reflect. I realize that I have so many things to be grateful for.

As we move into the busy holiday season, I want to take a moment to thank all of you who have followed my blog, left comments, or just stopped by to visit. When I started this blog nearly two years ago, I had no idea where it would all go. Likewise, when I first began the search for my birth family in 2009, I didn’t know what to expect. I was almost afraid to expect anything because I had so little information to go on. What I have discovered has gone beyond any of my expectations. I’ve learned more about both my adoptive parents, especially my dad and his service in the U.S. Army Air Corp. I’ve learned some about my birth parents, and that unfortunately, both have passed on. I have had my adoption contract translated. Not only have I been able to write about my adoption experience, but I found a connection to all of you. I am so grateful to have found others who have themselves been adopted, who have adopted children from other countries, or are in the process of adopting more children. I enjoy reading about your experiences adopting your children and being able to share the bonds of adoption. I sincerely appreciate your encouraging comments and support as I continue on in my search for my biological sisters and travel to Taiwan next January. It always brightens my day to connect with others who also have a story to tell. It’s great to be a part of an adoption community. I anticipate one day meeting one of my biological sisters. Now that we have something to go on (an address in Taiwan), I feel that perhaps it is possible to find someone still living from my birth family, and I hope to share the ongoing journey with all of you.

Happy holidays to you and all of your families!

Xie xie!

a whole new world

I have become intrigued by everything Asian, specifically things related to Chinese culture and to Taiwan. It surprises me how strongly I feel about this. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve become a little too obsessed. Am I going overboard? Is this a mid-life crisis? Have other transracially adopted adults gone through this kind of searching later in life? When I explain to friends and family that I’m taking Mandarin lessons, going to Taiwan soon, and really exploring my cultural roots, their reactions are often encouraging, but I don’t think they quite get it. Perhaps they believe that this is just a phase I’m going through similar to a kid going through adolescence. It has, after all, taken half of my lifetime to get to that point of wanting to learn more of my cultural heritage. Twenty years ago I would never have thought twice about pursuing a search for my biological sisters, planning a trip to Taiwan, or learning Mandarin. There was no hint of a desire whatsoever.

I am happy that this new chapter of my life has begun. I’m not sure where it will all lead, but it’s an adventure. Recently, I’ve been watching a Taiwanese TV drama called, “Meteor Garden.” I had a hard time getting into it at first because it’s targeted for a younger audience, but I must say I got sucked in. I’ve begun to pick up on a few Mandarin words and phrases here and there. I have a growing list of Taiwanese dramas that I want to watch! I’ve also been listening to K-Pop (Korean pop music) and Taiwanese pop music lately. I’ve been enjoying it and am getting acquainted with popular Taiwanese singers and bands, like Jay Chou and Jerry Yan. I’m sure there are a lot more great artists out there.

I still have many questions about my adoption. One thing that still mystifies me is why my adoptive parents told me that I was Japanese and Vietnamese. My birth parents were both from China and moved to Taiwan where I was born and adopted. When and whythey moved from China to Taiwan, I’m not exactly sure. I would like to know what happened to the adoption agency, The Family Planning Association of China, as it no longer exists. I’d like to know if Tze-kuan Shu Kan, the director of the agency, is still living. My adoptive mom also kept a list of orphanages in the Taipei area. I wonder if she visited all those orphanages before finding me? I would like to visit one of those orphanages in Taipei while I’m there in January. Of course, to find one of my biological sisters and meet would be beyond wonderful and would most likely lead to some of the answers to my questions. Maybe going to Taiwan is just the beginning. I hope that more doors open up. I don’t think that this is just a phase. I think it’s a growing appreciation for my birth culture, an opportunity to explore it and expand my identity. So, I may come off a little obsessed, but it really is a whole new world.

let the adventure begin

Well, I booked a flight to Taiwan! That’s right, I’m going to Taipei, Taiwan in January. I’m beside myself! My adoption search contact here in the states, Tien, invited me awhile back to go with her when she travels to Taiwan. She’s going back to visit family for Chinese New Year, as well as take care of some business. Although there’s not much time to prepare, I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to go with someone familiar with Taiwan. Luckily, I was able to book the same flight overseas, so Tien and I will be flying and meeting together for the first time since we first began corresponding, nearly two years ago. I’m very much looking forward to finally meeting face to face.

Today, I got my passport paperwork taken care of. I tried not to be too disappointed at how bad the photos came out! I’m also trying to decide on the best hotel to stay at and how to hire a travel guide who I can take with me everywhere I go. Within a week or two, I’ll begin taking Mandarin lessons. I’m just waiting on my new tutor to contact me. I won’t know enough to speak the language fluently before I go, but maybe I’ll be able to learn a few phrases.

This trip will be a milestone in my journey towards finding any living members of my birth family. And just as important, it’s an opportunity for me to connect with my birth culture, really for the first time. I know that it will be a memorable and life changing experience. Perhaps the first of more trips in the future back to the country where I was born, at least I hope so. I’m thrilled. I’ve never done anything quite like this, travel to another country without anyone else. In college, I was in a show choir, and we traveled internationally every other year. One year, we went to Tokyo, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Ghaungzhou, New Delhi, Agra, and London. It was quite the experience and one that I enjoyed very much. I grew to love traveling abroad. I would love to travel to Hong Kong again and also to Seoul, Korea one day. For now, I’m Taiwan bound. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Chinese New Year!

Waiting patiently…

From the Child and Juvenile Adoption Information Center, New Taipei City, Taiwan, September 5th, 2011:

“…We received some information from the household system; it’s about your birth parents. As your blog mentioned, your birth parents passed away, your birth father was died in 2008, and your birth mother was died in 1998, we are deeply sorry about this information. About the member in your birth family, we now have some information but still need time to check if we do find the right person, please be patient for our following contact…”

I received the email very early in the morning AZ time. Anxious to get to my email to see if anything had come back from the agency in Taiwan, I turned on my computer and waited for the screen to upload. The agency had requested that I provide some information on my current life, why I wanted to find my birth family, what I would do in the event that my birth family could not be found, or refused contact with me, etc. I was happy to oblige and sent them as much information as I could without being too long-winded. I also sent them a link to my blog, which I didn’t really anticipate them reading.

At last the computer uploaded, and there waiting in my inbox was an email from Taiwan. I skimmed through it happy to hear from them. I fixated on the last paragraph, the one that spoke of my birth parents having passed away. My reaction took me completely by surprise. I felt a hollowness creep into my chest, a sadness that could only be described as loss. Although I knew that my birth parents were no longer living through a correspondence sent to me by, Tien, the caseworker who’s been helping me search for my birth family for over a year now, the news just hit me right between the ribs. Intuitively, I had always believed that they were no longer living. I never knew my birth parents; how could I feel such a deep sense of loss? I was in shock. All I could do was sit for awhile. I went upstairs to get ready for work. I let the tears come. I think that knowing the dates that my birth parents passed away somehow brought a kind of finality and realization that I would never ever know them. Questions popped into my mind. Did they ever think of me? I thought mostly of my birth mother. Did she grieve over the loss of putting me up for adoption? Until recently, this thought had never really crossed my mind. Do I look anything like her? How did my birth parents die? I hoped that it was peacefully. I also thought about my adoptive parents and felt an even greater loss in that they, too, are gone, my adoptive mom in 2008, and adoptive dad in 1993.

I spent the greater part of the morning at work thinking about my birth parents, wanting to take the time to sort through my feelings. I thought about calling in sick so that I could spend some time processing all that I had learned, but decided not to. I know that this is not the end. There was some indication of hope in the agency’s correspondence; they mentioned the possibility of having information on a certain member of my birth family, but needed more time to verify it. I don’t know how long this process will take, but I await to hear back from them whether it be sooner or later.

I haven’t thought about my birth parents lately, except for in writing this post. Life is always so busy. Work, family, school all keep me preoccupied. One day I’ll return to the news I received about them and let myself imagine what their lives may have been like. I hope that in the future I’ll have some of the answers to my questions about their lives. It seems only natural now to wonder and to want to know.

The agency sent back an email shortly after receiving my background information. They have read my blog, this very one and expressed that they understand why I want to reunite with my birth family. It’s now only a matter of time before learning something. Until then, I wait patiently…

missing link

The day of my mother’s funeral just over 3 years ago was a day that changed my life. It was a day of saying good-bye, and yet it was also a day of new beginnings. On that day, I recovered a link to my past that had been missing for 41 years of my life. I had an inkling that such a link existed, but no hope or clue as to how to find it. It sat in a box in my parent’s attic preserved for many years until the day my sister dragged it out and presented it to me. This link has led me on a journey to try and find any living members of my birth family in Taiwan.

My mom hid these documents carefully from the time she and my dad brought me home from the orphanage in Taiwan. It moved with us each time we moved due to my dad’s military career in the Air Force. Sometimes I wonder if she ever wanted to give me my adoption contract and all the other things she saved. She never spoke of them. Around 1999, mom started to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and the last 10 years of her life were hell. I’m sure that she didn’t even remember that the adoption papers existed upstairs in the dank, dusty old attic. I find it surreptitious that while she was living, she didn’t tell me about those papers. However, the day of her funeral when we went back to the house and I opened up that box, it was as though she were saying, “Here, I want you to have these things now. They belong to you. I want you to know about your past, about your birth family.” Really, I imagined her saying those very things to me and believe she willed me to find that box. 

When I thought that I’d lost my adoption contract last week, I was heartbroken. We moved at the beginning of the year, and in all the frenzy, I guess I lost track of that box. I had no idea it was missing. After waiting 41 years to find something so important, was I to lose it now? I looked through the boxes in our garage to no avail. I looked through the boxes in my husband’s closet, but didn’t find anything. Luckily, my husband went through the boxes in his office one more time, and sure enough, the box was there! I couldn’t believe that I’d overlooked it, but was ecstatic.

You see, two weeks ago, I received an email from an old contact, Tien, who has been helping me search for my birth family in Taiwan for almost a year now. Her message came out of the blue, as I’ve tried contacting her for several months with no response. I was surprised, yet really happy to hear from her. She told me that she hadn’t forgotten about me and that she’d found one of my birth sisters in Taiwan through the Registration Office in Taipei while on visit there. She also told me that my birth parents had passed away long ago. The officials would not give Tien the name or address of the woman who could be my sister because she was not related. Tien therefore sent me a link to an agency in Taiwan that provides reunion services for adoptees and their birth families. I completed the reunion service request form and sent them a copy of my adoption contract, but apparently there was a page missing, the most important one. It became necessary for me to find the original contract because the missing document, the “household document” was most needed to begin the search. Thankfully, having found the original papers, I was able to scan and email what I believed to be the correct page.  I’ve never been so grateful for advanced technology!

So now, it’s time once again to wait. Wait and see if the person Tien discovered is really one of my birth sisters. I wish that I could fly to Taiwan and do all of this in person. It would just be so much easier. If it is my birth sister, I hope she’ll want to meet me. In that case, I’ll be on a flight to Taiwan somehow, someway. I know that if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen. I just have to wait, the hardest part of all.

searching for my birthfamily

Tien made a new suggestion to try and find my birthfamily in Taiwan. She suggests that I place an article in a local newspaper stating that I’m in search of my birthfamily. The best solution by far would be to travel to Taiwan in person and search for records. Tien has even invited me to accompany her on her next expedition there in the near future. I would be very interested in doing so, although it seems like pursuing this is such a distant dream. Now that I’ve started a new full-time job, it would be difficult to get the time off from work. Honestly, I’ve been so wrapped up in my new job, I’ve given my adoption search less thought. But tonight, I wonder a little if this search will ever lead me to someone from my birth amily. Will placing such an article in a newspaper draw any attention? It’s worth a chance.

I’m hoping to hear back from Tien soon to find out what information is needed to write such an article. What will I say? Woman in search of birth family who was adopted by Americans over 40 years ago? Who knows if anyone from my birth family is still living. I was the youngest, and I’m 44 years old. My birth parents may not be living – in fact, most likely are not. I know of other adoptees who have found their birth parents, or siblings, not all Asian American adoptees, but some white, who were adopted domestically. It seems that because my adoption took place so long ago, and both of my adoptive parents are no longer living, the little information that I’ve discovered is not enough to find out anything significant. It seems impossible. The obsession to find someone from my birthfamily has minimized a little. I think it has to do with working and having other distractions. In any case, I’ll have to continue to wait and see what unfolds. Who knows, maybe a trip to Taiwan will come to fruition in the not too distant future.

road block

Just before noon, my inbox alerted me to a new email. It was from Tien at Journeys of the Heart adoption services in Hillsboro, Oregon. She’s a caseworker at the agency who has volunteered to help me in the search for my birthfamily back in China. After three months, she finally returned my email in response to moving forward with the search. My neighbor, a month ago, offered to do what he could to help search for any information while he was visiting China. He returned last Thursday, but hasn’t contacted me at all. My husband suggested that perhaps this wasn’t of high priority to our neighbor and not to bug him. I’m at a loss and feel that finding my birthfamily is not going to be easy. I’m doubting that after such a long time there could be any possibility of finding them. Strangely, I’m not surprised that our neighbor did not come back with any news.

It turns out that Tien’s email was timely. We’ll pick up where we left off. I She wasn’t surprised either that my neighbor came back with no information because my adoption took place such a long time ago. She mentioned something about the civil war that took place in Mainland China making it even more difficult to gain information. I will now give my consent for power of attorney to give their contact person authority to dig for more information for me in Taiwan, i.e., search records, ask for information, etc. I have to send this form to the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) for legalization.

We may not be able to get any further than this. Tien seems to think that my birthfamily moved from China to Taiwan where I was placed for adoption at the Family Planning Association of China. Unfortunately, that orphanage no longer exists. I will continue to hope for the best and try to figure out other ways to find information about my birthfamily.