A Change in the Wind

Just dusted off one of my other blogs.

Since my thoughts have become more and more adoption-related lately, I figure it’s time. I didn’t think I’d be doing this again, but…


P.S. Feel free to remove this blog from your blogrolls if you wish. I probably won’t be updating here much anymore.

“I Want to Meet Your Mom”

This is what my Taiwan mother expressed several times.

Mother: Mei-Ling?

Me: Hm?

Mother: Ni shenme shihou hui lai Taiwan? Ming nian ni gege jiehun. When are you coming back to Taiwan [again]? Next year your brother has marriage.

Me: En, ni hai gaosu wo. Ta you jiehun. Yeah, you already said. He’s marrying.

Mother: Ming nian ni guo lai Taiwan ma? Next year can you come over to Taiwan?

Me: Ming nian? Ming nian? Next year?

Mother: Dui ya! Ni he Jianada mama guo lai Taiwan. Yes! You and your Canadian mom come over to Taiwan.

Me: Ni yao Jianada mama guo lai Taiwan? Zhe li? You want Canadian mom to come over to Taiwan? Here?

Mother: En! Yeah.

Me: Ni yao renshi wo Jianada mama? You want to meet Canada mom?

Mother: Dui! Correct.

Me: Ta bu hui guo lai Taiwan. Ta ye bu zhidao shenme Zhongwen. Bu hui jiang hua.  She can’t come over. She doesn’t know Chinese. Can’t talk.

Mother: Ni jiao ta! You teach her.

Me: Ta bu yao xue. She doesn’t want to study.


While some part of me does want them to meet, another part of me is kind of glad my mothers won’t meet.

I can’t imagine the amount of pressure that would put on me.

Forever divided.

The Past Facing The Future

As I’m making tentative plans to discuss with a friend in returning to Taiwan either late 2011 or early 2012, it has struck me how ironic it is that I feel like a visitor.

That I’m out-cast.

I am welcome but I feel like a visitor because I am. I do not have the same validity that my siblings do. I am not involved in their lives. I don’t have “my space” over there. I have to make arrangements because I didn’t grow up there.  I have to plan ahead, think critically to make up for my linguistic failings. I have to know exactly what I plan on doing because I can’t read the signs and I can’t understand directions.

Her being there comes at my expense… involuntarily. Me having been there would have come at her expense of not even existing. I sometimes think of our paths as never having meant to have been crossed. The past meeting the future, but the future being reminded of the past. Or maybe I am wrong and I won’t even end up staying at Xingnan.

I remember watching her do her laundry, and from time to time she would sense my gaze and look back at me. Silence.

But what could we say? What must it be like? What does she think of me? Am I really just that intruder? She doesn’t really think of Mama as being my mother, does she?

The daughter who exists in place of the daughter once removed.

I never knew what to say to other people in Taiwan (when my parents were right by me) when they asked about my presence.


I look at the picture of Ma and I together. My mind says this is the “wrong” daughter. My heart says it’s the “right” one. My mind says they must co-exist. My heart says they were never meant to. Everyone else tells me, either directly or subtly, that Xiao-Ping is the “rightful” daughter. Because she was raised by them.

As much as I try to, as much as I can prove I am real through my Taiwanese citizenship, that I was born there and have a place to “return” to, I cannot argue the validity of that statement.


If this trip works out, it will be the past facing the future once again.

In Regards to A Future Trip

Been trying to arrange a trip overseas with a friend of mine.

And by arrange, I mean we’ve been discussing booking times, how long we should stay (considering jet-lag recovery), and where we’d stay. Amazingly, Xiao-Ping has been responding to my enquiries about staying and relaying what Mama and Baba have to say. I thought for sure I’d have to get a translator to call on my behalf.

It looks like if we stay together, we’d have to stay at a hotel, so I’m not sure how often I’d actually be seeing my family. My guess is in the evenings for dinner, then head back out for the night-market hours and then settle back in at the hotel when we get tired. Also, I don’t have a key for the residence, so I’d have to plan around their dinnertime.

So I’ll get to see Heping again, but in all likelihood not Xingnan. There’s just not enough room for two guests. (Unless of course something else happens and I end up staying at Xingnan myself, but that really depends on my friend)

But I doubt that will be much of an issue at all.

I’d love to see Danshui and Gongguan again, as they have a variety of shops, and the view from Danshui is gorgeous. I also want to see a place that I only heard/read about upon coming back – Zhongxiao Fuxing. Or something like that. It’s along the Zhongxiao MRT line. It’s basically a place filled with beautiful scenery where they honour Taiwan’s ancestors and nationality. I’ve seen some pictures of it, and I know Mama & Baba took Xiao-Ping there as a little girl – I’d like to see it for myself.

My Mandarin isn’t really going to get better at this point in time, and I have no reason to believe I will ever attain enough proficiency to hold an exchange on my own. But I know I can survive and use my dictionary – that’s what got me through last time, didn’t it?

Hokkien Taiwanese is too difficult. Only the older generation speaks it. 99% of shopkeepers just spoke Mandarin to me.

I forgot how straining it is to have to type out a message in Chinese grammar and knowing the recipient won’t understand English. I’ve kept up some semblance of vocab and grammar through my writings, but I’ve always had the comfort of knowing the other person knew some English.

This is not the case with Taiwan.

I think my listening comprehension really suffers, as it seems to be what I have trouble with most, and not speaking or reading. My reading is probably ahead of my speaking, my speaking is at a survival level (plus body language and pointing at my dictionary), and my listening comprehension… well, based on language exchange meetings, I think it’s terrible.


Anyway, to end this post, here is an exchange I had with Xiao-Ping:

Me: So we can stay at Heping? Or is it better at a hotel? You know any close hotels?

Xiao-Ping: Mama says you can stay at Heping. A hotel is good too. It’s [lists the price here]. YongHe City is close to Taipei.

Me: Okay, I don’t have a key. Will Baba and Mama give me a key? Or they give me entrance?

(20 minutes later)

Xiao-Ping: Baba says you can’t stay at Heping. Toilet is broken.

Me: … (fighting the urge to laugh out loud) No fix?

Xiao-Ping: No fix. A hotel is still good.

Me: (still grinning at the monitor) Toilet too old?

Xiao-Ping: Yeah. So you stay at a hotel.

Interesting. We’ll see what my friend says tonight when she talks to her family about traveling to Asia.


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Better Vs. Ideal

I finally got my wired keyboard hooked back up. So, uh, I guess it’s safe to say you can anticipate more posts coming up. Either here or elsewhere. :)

I’m still around, still lurking, still observing and reading and thinking. I see some old theories/mindsets haven’t changed. I see some people who still have a beef with one another, and I still see some absurd debating that would never take place if the child was raised with its biological parents. I did have a few posts I wanted to write, but since my keyboard was being a jerk, they all faded away and so I am left with almost-gone traces of what was going to be published. Which is to say, nothing coherent to work on, let alone publish.

There is one post in particular that was pingbacked by an adoptee

I’ve read the post in question and I think it’s well-written.

I get it. People want to escape the pain in adoption. People want to pretend it doesn’t exist. I would like to pretend, too. I didn’t want adoption to hurt, because it wasn’t supposed to. I wasn’t supposed to feel confused. I wasn’t supposed to worry, imagine, desire. Adoption wasn’t supposed to be about any of those things. That is why I spent such a long time in cognitive dissonance three years ago. Because I told myself, again and again: “It doesn’t matter.”

You tell yourself something so many times, over and over and over again, and you will believe it.

Adoption is pain.

Even if/when it works out.

I see comments that imply people want to escape this. They say “Well it sucks, but we can always do better.”

I think the issue here is that when we say stuff like that, we imagine “better” as “perfect despite the ideal scenario.”

There is no such thing as “ideal” in adoption. Because adoption in itself isn’t ideal. If you think that’s ideal, then you’re only looking at it from one side. It’s not “ideal” to lose a sibling. It’s not “ideal” to give up a child out of poverty. It’s not “ideal” to relinquish a girl because you don’t have a son. And so on.

I’m not saying it can’t work out to a reasonable extent, or that happy families cannot be created, or that parents can’t have “real” love for their adopted child. I don’t believe in that kind of terminology; all it does is put people down. I cringe when I see the term “birth mother.” Because if “birth mother” applies to any woman who has ever given birth, then ALL female parents would be called “birth mothers.” Because every child out there has been birthed. But not every woman out there is called a “birth mother.”

The mothers who have kept and raised their children are called moms. Not “birth mothers”, despite having given birth. And so the qualifier, the PC folks leap in. But I digress.

Adoption is already broken as it is.

We want better. We want “better” to mean “ideal”, because we already live in a broken world. For example, if a mother abuses her child and the child is adopted as a toddler, people are going to say “Well problem fixed, the child was adopted out to a loving home. And no it is not perfect, but it is ideal.”

When they think of “ideal”, they think of the parents who have gotten the chance to parent, and the child who is now safe. This is the “better” they speak of, and they attach it to the meaning of “ideal.” That would be circumstantial idealism. Meaning it’s merely ideal based on the circumstances that a mother wanted to harm her own child in the first place.

Which isn’t really ideal at all.

Because if you ask me, what’s “better” is that a child doesn’t get abused in the first place, especially by their own mother. (Yes, we have to call her a mother even in this scenario, which is probably why biology being strong is such a contradictory idea to many in the adoption world)

What’s “ideal” is not if a child gets a loving home, but if the mother never hurt her own child.

That’s ideal.

Adoption is not ideal.

Adoption is next best in an already lose-lose situation.

I Want Both Sides

“Sometimes I wish I hadn’t been adopted.”

“You gained such blessings by being adopted, though.”

True. I won’t argue against that; I do have a lot of blessings here. But what you fail to consider is that I might have had other blessings in my birth country.”

“But what about all those people in your life right now? Don’t they matter to you? Would you throw that all away? If you hadn’t been adopted, you wouldn’t have known them.”

Whenever I think about the “what if” scenario, I immediately get that train of thought. I’ve asked myself, “But I have it so good here, people I enjoy spending time with, things I love doing in my comfort zone, etc.”

The question “Would you throw that all away?” is merely the reverse of the equation: Having unintentionally “thrown” away my birth name, birth culture and blood family.

Or rather, my birth culture having “thrown” me away.


I can’t answer the question when it’s asked directly to me.

What about all those people in your life right now? Don’t they matter to you?

Of course they do.

It’s why I always end up asking myself that every time I find myself grieving for the family I lost through adoption.

I can’t say if I care more about one side or the other because I am not psychic and therefore do not have knowledge of that other life. I don’t know what it would have been like. I can’t say I indefinitely feel indebted to my adoptive life, because I have no knowledge of my would-have-been life to compare it to. And I can’t say I indefinitely feel anything towards Taiwan because I wasn’t raised there.

Actually I can understand the logic behind the question and even agree with the point conveyed to some extent.

People ask me, “Well, you were adopted. Of course I’m going to ask: don’t you?”

But what hurts me is when it is conveyed in a way that implies I should care “more” about one side of the equation than the other, namely the adoptive side. There is an evident bias in favour of the adoptive side, which is to be expected, because well, the adult was adopted.

Frankly, I can’t compare such a scenario, because I haven’t lived two lives.


I know I have a lot of blessings through adoption. I did not ask to be adopted, to end up in the scenario in which I needed to be adopted, but I was. And I know I have gained a lot through it.

I do believe I would have had equal blessings in Taiwan. I do believe I would have been able to find happiness in Taiwan, through family, through friends, through games and fun times, and the relationships I could have built over there. Oh yes, I do believe all of that. To a Westerner not personally associated with adoption, I can easily predict their confusion, saying that the blessings in Canada (through adoption) are of greater value than the ones I would have had in Taiwan.

And honestly, I don’t know that’s true. Neither does the Westerner.


You can’t weigh the values/gains in adoption to something you’ve never lived, because not all blessings come in the same shape or form.

And when I think about living in Taiwan, or the idea of having had an alternate life in Taiwan, my very first thought is:

“But what about my family here? I wouldn’t have known them. The people I have built relationships here and the friends I have had, I would have never met them.”

This knowledge tears me apart for many reasons.

You see, if I had stayed in Taiwan, I would have been raised by my blood family, in my natural culture with my proper mother tongue. But it’s likely I would have had a harder life, less play time, and a harsher (earlier?) work start. There are the blessings, and there is the lesser value.

In Canada I have been raised by my adoptive family, in a different First World culture with greater education and the English language. I have had a social death in my birth country due to this. There are the blessings, and there is the lesser value.

I don’t want to invalidate the blessings I have through adoption. Because they are very real.

But it grieves me just as deeply to invalidate the blessings I have lost through adoption. They have always existed, out of sight, out of reach.

Because it is one or the other. I don’t get to have both; nobody can live two lives. And no matter how you put it, my birth culture/family/language will always be in distant fragments, weighed against the blessings of my adoptive life.

I wish…

I wish I could have had both blessings.


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