The day of my mother’s funeral just over three years ago was a day that changed my life. It was a day of saying good-bye, but ironically it was the beginning of a new chapter in my life. On that day, I recovered an important link to my past. For 41 years of my life, I had no idea that my original adoption contract lay buried in a box in my parent’s attic. After our mother’s funeral, I opened the box, as my sister had cleaned out the attic and brought down a bunch of boxes. I don’t know why she never gave me such an important link to my history. My guess is she feared I’d try to find my birthfamily or be curious about them. And I did just that. After finding my adoption contract, I set out on a journey to find any living members of my birthfamily in Taiwan.
My mom hid these documents carefully from the time she and my dad brought me home from an orphanage in Taiwan. It moved with us each time we moved due to my dad’s military career in the Air Force, unbeknownst to me. 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, a terrible, terrible disease. I’m sure that she didn’t even remember that the adoption papers existed upstairs in that 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 from somewhere beyond.
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 birthfamily 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 had almost given up on ever hearing from her again. I was surprised, yet so happy to hear from her. She told me that she hadn’t forgotten about me and that she’d found one of my biological sisters in Taiwan through the Registration Office in Taipei while on visit there. She also informed 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 Tien was not related. Tien therefore sent me a link to an agency in Taipei, Child and Juvenile Adoption Information Center, that provides reunion services for Taiwanese adoptees and their birthfamilies. 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 biological 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 biological sister, I hope she’ll want to meet me, too. 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.