Tag Archives: Taiwanese adoptees

new podcast

Hsiao_Ling_H-Logo-Final-3000x3000It’s rare that I write 2 posts in a row these days! I wanted to share with you a new podcast I’m launching soon called Global Adoptee Talk, a podcast featuring the diverse voices of international and transracial adoptees around the globe. The podcast will feature 1:1 interviews with other international/transracial adoptees, and we’ll discuss topics related to international adoption, race/culture/identity, search and reunion, and mental health. The website is up and mostly functional, although I’m still working out some kinks, and you can listen to a brief preview of what we’ll present in Season One of the show. I hope that you’ll give the website a visit and  listen in to the preview. Just go to GlobalAdopteeTalk.com.

And, please share the podcast with your adoption community! I’m off to work now…Thank you so much for visiting Global Adoptee Talk!

autumn in arizona

I’s my favorite time of the year! I know that fall doesn’t really pick up for another month, especially in Arizona, but the mornings and evenings are gradually cooling off. And thank goodness. I’m about sick of triple digit weather.

I’m writing from beautiful Orange County, California this morning. We’re here visiting our daughter, who just began her freshman year of college. Whoopee! Her 19th birthday is on the 10th, so of course, a celebration is in order. Those initial feelings of loss that first overwhelmed me have mostly subsided, and the new normal is beginning to feel – well, normal. That first week was rough though, I ain’t gonna lie. We’ve had our home in Arizona on the market for quite a few days in the hopes of moving back to California. Our daughter was born in Anaheim, and our family lived in Orange County for close to fourteen years. We want to be nearer to our daughter, but also talked of moving back to California to retire long before our daughter took off. In the past, we had considered settling in San Diego. Now seemed as good a time as any to make a move since we don’t have any other familial ties in Arizona. Alas, the housing market is dreadfully slow, and our dream of moving to the sunshine state is beginning to become just that. A dream. We spent the good part of yesterday looking at homes in Los Altos that were quite out of our budget. It’s California, though, and no surprise, everything is overinflated. After driving five hours, house hunting was kind of a drag and exhausting. I’m not sure if the house hunting itself or the tension was more exhausting.

Autumn brings new things to hope for, however. In early November, I’m heading to Kentucky. Never been to the great state of Kentucky and am greatly looking forward to it. It’s sure to be an especially memorable trip, as I’m meeting another Taiwanese adoptee who was adopted in Taipei from from another orphanage, St. Benedict’s. We have so much to talk about! Carmen’s adoptive parents were friends of my parents in Okinawa where both our fathers were stationed. Our families lived at Kadena Air Force base. Apparently, our parents had close ties, and my parents were Carmen’s godparents. I found Carmen’s adoption papers among the items in an old box that contained my original adoption contract. Carmen and her family once visited us in Louisiana when we were very young children. I must have been around kindergarten, or possibly pre-school age at that time. It’s really hard to remember. I set out to find Carmen almost five years ago and finally located her via her adoptive brother on Facebook. Since then, we’ve kept in touch through social media and by phone. I can’t wait to meet her and her husband in person!

Last week, I also spoke to another Taiwanese adoptee by phone, Michael. Michael lives on the East coast and was adopted from the same orphanage where my parents adopted me, The Family Planning Association of China in Taipei. A close relation to Michael found my blog and introduced us via email several years ago. I contacted Michael recently to talk and exchange stories about our adoptions. Michael traced his ancestry through 23andMe, an organization that provides DNA testing and analysis. He has a Taiwanese sister who was also adopted from the same orphanage and presently lives in England with her family. Their adoptive father was similarly in the U.S. Air Force. Michael, Carmen, and I were all adopted within years of one another. I would really like to build a yearly conference for Taiwanese adoptees one day, kind of like KAAN. It would take a team of folks to make that a reality, but it’s not impossible.

Lastly, I’m writing a book, a memoir of sorts, about my reunion with my birth family in Taipei. I’ve been working with an editor, formerly of Sage Publications, and am extremely excited about this project. It’s been a roller coaster of emotions as I’ve reached back into my memory, heart, past blog posts, and journal to recapture those years of searching, and ultimately, the reunion with my birth family in Taipei. My editor, Allyson, collaborates independently with writers who wish to self-publish and is considering making this a full-time occupation. She worked at Sage Publications for many years before deciding to leave her busy career there to focus on raising her family. My first draft is tentatively scheduled for completion by year’s end. Much of my time lately has been spent writing in between completing job applications, writing cover letters, and sending resumes to multiple agencies in California (no luck yet). It’s nice to have so much time to write, although this time will become much more limited once I start working again. I’ve completed roughly seventeen chapters thus far; however, there is much to be refined. No publication date set, but sometime in 2017. I’ll keep you posted!

I’m signing off to hang with our friends, the Pokorny’s, who generously allow us to stay in their home every time we visit California. Then off to pick up our daughter for a birthday shopping spree. Maybe staying in Arizona isn’t such a bad thing after all. It’s been very disappointing that our house hasn’t sold, but perhaps there is yet a better plan that we’re unaware of to be revealed.

minnesota transracial film festival

It appears that filmmaking on transracial adoption is on the rise and continues to gain increasing attention within the adoption community. Three feature films caught my attention this year:  Finding Seoul (by filmmaker/adoptee, John Sanvidge, now available on DVD), Somewhere Between (by director/producer, Linda Goldstein Knowlton) and Going Home (by director/adoptee, Jason Hoffman). Another film/documentary, Kinship of Geographies, by Korean filmmaker, Deann Borshay Liem, hit the social media platform recently when a kickstarter campaign to raise money for the film was launched and then successfully funded. Liem is also Producer, Director, and Writer for the Emmy Award-nominated documentary, First Person Plural (Sundance, 2000) and the award-winning film, In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee (PBS, 2010). This past June, a special showing of Finding Seoul was scheduled in Scottsdale, AZ. Unfortunately, I was out of town and missed it, but I had a friend with an adopted son from Korea who attended. I recently requested a Phoenix showing of Somewhere Between through Tugg— keeping my fingers crossed in hopes that it’ll make it here.

In November, The Minnesota Transracial Film Festival, co-hosted by AdopSource, AK Connection and Land of Gazillion Adoptees, will exhibit several feature films and shorts on transracial adoption. Hosted by AdopSource, MNTRFF made its debut on November 14, 2009 in the Twin Cities. With one of the largest transracial and transcultural adopted communities located in Minnesota, the festival was started in order to showcase both the community and its rich diversity, as well as some of the emerging voices telling their point of view through film, words, and music. MNTRFF will host the physical portion of the festival beginning November 10th at the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul Campus. The following Monday-Friday (November 12th-16th), the festival will continue online via Watch Adoptee Films, which will stream (worldwide) some of the films from the physical portion of the festival and a handful of others. Here’s what’s on the program so far:  Invisible Red Thread, Finding Seoul, Going Home, Seoul Searching (short), Struggle for Identity (short- also available for purchase on DVD),  You Follow (teaser trailer), Geographies of Kinship (teaser). I would love to be there for the festival, but planned a trip to Orange Co., CA at the same time. I do plan to catch some of the festival online though when I get back in town.

I noticed that four of the films/shorts are by Korean filmmakers. Two others tell the stories of adoptees from China and India, and there is a film short specifically on the issue of identity featuring transracial adoptees of different ethnic/racial backgrounds. My hope is that one day, there will be a documentary on Taiwanese adult adoptees. In 2011, there were approximately 205 adoptions from Taiwan to the U.S. according to the U.S. Dept. of State. Although the percentage of adult Taiwanese adoptees may be smaller than that of Korean and Chinese adoptees, there are several of us out there. Over the past couple of years, a handful of Taiwanese adult adoptees have contacted me via my blog, which is fantastic. And I had the honor and privilege of getting in touch with another adult Taiwanese adoptee this summer after 40+ years. Carmen was the godchild of my adoptive parents, and I found her adoption paperwork recently amongst all of my adoption documents. Yes, it would be cool one day to see a documentary on Taiwanese adoptees. One can dream…

a chance encounter

Carmen, her adoptive mom, Me, December 1967

Every once in awhile, I sift through the contents of the box that preserves my adoption papers. Recently, I came across something baffling: the papers of another little girl who was also adopted by a military family. Apparently, my parents knew the family in Okinawa. My father and the little girl’s father were both stationed at Kadena Air Force Base. The little girl’s name was Carmen. I vaguely remember hearing the name growing up, and in the recesses of my memory, recall an Asian girl who was older than me and very pretty. My mom put her school picture in a family photo album. I actually remember looking at her picture as a kid and wishing I looked more like her. Curiosity got the best of me, and soon, I found myself digging through the cramped quarters of our storage closet in search of that old photo album.

As I flipped through the pages of one particular album, two pictures caught my attention. I recognized myself – I couldn’t have been more than 2 years old – but who was the other little Asian girl and the white woman? There was no writing on the back of these photos, but something told me that the other little girl was Carmen and the woman in the picture was her adoptive mom. I speculated that my parents were Carmen’s godparents and that’s how her adoption papers ended up amidst my adoption stuff. Obviously, there was some connection.

Carmen, Scotty, Me. July, 1970.

I did more digging. I googled the name, “Carmen Marie Faulkenburg,” her “American” name. Her name appeared under mylife, which listed her location and age – 49, just a few years older than me. I was disappointed, however, that I couldn’t get any further information. I searched again and found a Scott Faulkenburg. I clicked on the Facebook link hoping to find info leading me to Carmen. What should I find as I scrolled through Scott’s Facebook friends but the name and picture of, “Carmen Faulkenburg Seitz,” Scott’s sister – an Asian woman! I knew it had to be her! I immediately emailed Scott explaining why I was contacting him in hopes he would respond and not think I was crazy. I’m happy to say that Scott contacted me four days ago letting me know that he passed my message on to Carmen!

That same evening, Carmen emailed me. Since then, we’ve talked on the phone twice trying to piece together the connection between our families and adoptions. Carmen has a southern drawl that reminds me so much of growing up in Louisiana. I laughed when Carmen told me that her brother  first announced, “I found your sister!” when initially forwarding my message to her. We may not be blood-relatives, but I certainly feel like I’ve found a long lost sister! I learned from Carmen that she was abandoned as a baby and left beside a set of railroad tracks in Taipei. She was taken in by a group of nuns at a Catholic organization, St. Benedict’s Home for Children, now a Catholic monastery. Carmen actually returned to Taiwan with her husband in 2008 and reconnected with the nun who signed her adoption contract. Carmen’s date of birth is unknown, but was presumed to be around 1962. She was adopted in 1965 by Clarence and Janice Marie Faulkenburg, just a year before my adoption. Carmen found out from her father that he and my father were close friends in Okinawa and made a verbal agreement stipulating my parents as Carmen’s godparents. My speculation was right! Carmen wrote, “from the stories that my dad told me about Colonel Buck, he was a very good man.”

The Faulkenburgs, July 1970

Later, I found an old letter addressed to the Faulkenburg’s from St. Benedict’s Home for Children. Why my parents had the letter, I’m not sure. Intrigued, I took the letter out and read it. It was written by a nun, Sister Glenore, O.S.B. (Order of St. Benedict). She was trying to confirm with the Faulkenburgs that my parents had finally adopted a child. My parents had evidently been on a waiting list of families hoping to adopt from St. Benedict’s, but found me first at The Family Planning Association of China. Sister Glenore thanked the Faulkenburgs, my parents and others who had contributed much needed necessities to the orphanage. After I found the letter, I remembered seeing other photos of an older Carmen in some of our family photo albums. Again, I started searching. Sure enough, I discovered pictures of Carmen, her younger brother, Scott, and her adoptive parents at our home on LaNell Street. Having matched faces with names, I now recognize the Faulkenburgs in an old black and white photo taken after my adoption. They are pictured with my sister, Lynn, my mom and I.

The Faulkenburgs on L, my sister, mom and me

It’s been exciting to connect with Carmen and to discover yet another little piece of my past. We are hoping to meet each other at the end of July when I’ll be traveling to Indiana, just across the border from Kentucky where Carmen lives. In the meantime, she is visiting her father in Indiana this weekend and, perhaps, will learn a little more about our adoptions. I’m thrilled that we have found each other and truly amazed that our paths have crossed once again, 40 something years later!

 

from halfway across the world

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