Read an excerpt from Beyond Two Worlds: A Taiwanese-American Adoptee’s Memoir & Search for Identity below.
Barber’s Adagio for Strings swelled in the background, each strain bled woefully into the next. I knew that I was dreaming, but what I saw before me appeared so vivid, it felt real. From out of the shadows a dark, ominous figure emerged. Fear gripped me. The figure beckoned me closer, and as I inched forward, I recognized the figure as female. I strained to see its face, but it was hidden behind an enormous hood, and the rest of its body was cloaked beneath a long, gray robe the color of ash. I continued to walk closer to the figure, holding my breath with every step. As the music modulated to a major mode, realization suddenly hit me. The figure was my birthmother. I don’t know how I made the connection, but deep inside I knew it to be true. The sobs came uncontrollably. My birthmother slowly reached out to me. She was slender and remained silhouetted by her cloak. All I could see were her long, graceful fingers, so elegant and beautiful. She drew me closer to her. The fear dissipated as I felt the warmth of her embrace. She told me, “I never wanted to give you up. It was I who gave you the gift of music.” I clung to her as she sought to comfort me, her cheek pressed against mine. We did not need words to express what we felt in that moment. As the music crescendoed I felt an ache inside of me that I had never experienced before grow, like a rip to my soul. The strings rose to a feverish pitch, and I thought that I would explode with all of the sorrow and joy that I felt simultaneously.
The music gradually softened, and flowed into Mozart’s Serenade for Strings in B-flat. The oboe and clarinet sang out their gentle refrain in perfect time. I could not stop crying. Then, I saw my adoptive mother just the way I remembered her as a child, happy, loving, before times grew dark. Her head was adorned with a nursing cap and she wore white. Her face glowed, and her smile was as bright as the waves of the sea. She looked down upon me with such love that it was almost more than I could bear. She did not speak, but I understood exactly what she was telling me. “I’m okay! Don’t worry about me anymore.” She wanted me to know my birthmother. She was bringing us together. She smiled down upon my birthmother and I embracing, nodding her approval. I did not want this moment to end.
The music was changing again, soulfully winding down. My birthmother let go of her embrace, and I knew it was time for her to go. She released my hands and began to walk away. I longed to see her face, but it remained cloaked. Finally, she disappeared into the shadows. Swiftly, more images appeared, like bright lights or angels, and began gathering around my mother. The angels formed parallel lines and lifted her overhead. They were taking Mom away. I watched silently, tears flooding down my cheeks. The angels progressed slowly in time with the music towards an intricately adorned gate, golden and studded with pearls. I knew they were there to carry my mom to heaven. The gate opened. I watched as the angels carried her through. As the last few measures of music played out, the angels became smaller and smaller fading into the distance, and the gate closed shut. I knew that my mothers were gone, but not before each had said a final good-bye.