Repost: When my birth mother found me


Reposted from Salon, this article  written by Liz Fields spoke to me in so many ways.

Common knowledge if you know me or have read any of my previous blog posts is that I am adopted. A happily adopted daughter who has an incredible mother, enjoyed twenty years with the greatest man on earth as a father, and have a beautiful, warm-hearted sister of Indian descent who is adopted as well.

While reading this piece, however, several of her statements were almost word for word things I’ve felt or said in the past myself. I thought I would share.

A few of my favorite excerpts as follow…

“I’d always known I was adopted at 4 by a noisy but loving Anglo-Australian family. I knew that my birth parents had given me up after a violent and messy divorce. Other than that, I never dwelled much on my origins. My limited adolescent enthusiasm was taken up by piano lessons, detention and the weedy next-door neighbor I was in love with.”

” “Oh come on,” people often prod, unconvinced by my nonchalance. “You never wanted to find your real parents?” I cringe when I hear “real parents.” To me, my adoptive parents are my real parents – the ones who pinned my awful poetry to the fridge, taught me to drive and yelled and then laughed at me for getting my first wonky-looking tattoo at 15.”

“The only thing I had been curious about was genetics. Did I have my mother’s eyes? Will I inherit my father’s receding hairline? Did I look like someone out there? My older, natural-born sister looks alarmingly like both our parents, and I felt a pang of envy whenever someone mentioned it. But the rest of the time, I was incurious. I already had one family who loved me and drove me completely mad. Why would I want another?”

“I might have overcompensated to fit in. In all my high-school photos I appear amid a gaggle of white girls. I’ve never had an Asian boyfriend. I took up French rather than Mandarin classes, despite everyone’s insistence about my natural proficiency, or perhaps because of it.

Far sadder than the rejection of my cultural heritage, though, was a sudden distancing from my adoptive father in public. In my self-conscious teens, I stopped linking arms with him and loudly inserted “Dad” into the conversation whenever we dined alone at restaurants, tortured by strangers’ dirty glances, expecting that they’d assume we were a couple. The older Western guy with younger Asian girlfriend was an all too familiar sight in parts of South East Asia where we lived for many years.”

“But in the grand scheme of things, I knew I was lucky, considering the many desperate or disturbing stories of children around the world. I talked to girls who grew up as prostitutes in Cambodian slums or a teen who was born addicted to heroin and I thought of my own upbringing, filled with the usual sibling squabbles over Lego men and door-slamming fights with parents over the length of my skirt.”

“By my 20s, I had resigned myself to the idea there would always be a part of my background left undiscovered. I kind of liked it that way. Mystery and intrigue filled the gaping black hole in my history, which in reality was much less romantic than my childhood fantasies, where I secretly fancied myself as a princess or the daughter of famous actors or acrobats or spies.”


  1. Jean Paton, Mother of the Adoption Reform Movement, insisted that adoptees were not “permanent children” in need of lifelong supervision and protection. They were responsible, mature adults, fully capable of making their own decisions about search and reunion. To birth mothers who grieved she sent assurances that not everyone had forgotten them, especially not their children, many of whom when grown, think of them with growing wisdom and in the spirit of forgiveness.

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