IT DOESN’T STOP WITH JUST ADOPTION
I grew up in a happy family. The matter of adoption was never a secret. From my early childhood, my parents told me about it. If I had any questions, I could ask them and we would talk about it. I knew it was different from others, but it felt normal to me. It was never an issue. I accepted it and moved on. I didn’t think about it that much. But when I went to the university at the age of 18 to study psychology, my curiosity was triggered again. I started to think about the answer to the question: “Who am I”? And there was always an empty space -- the first 4 months of my life were unknown. I wanted to know my roots, to know where I came from; to know what happened and maybe, just maybe eventually meet my birthmother some day. Who could have thought in about just one year this dream would be realized?
February, 2013. I came home from college and there it was, how convenient, a letter from Cathwel. I knew the name. It was the adoption foundation. Immediately, I became very excited. I remembered I received the same letter the year before, but this time it was different. At that time I was not ready for it and I did not want to back then. But now I was ready － ready for making this big step. I really started to think about it. All sorts of questions came to mind. What happened 20 years ago? Why was I adopted? How did it happen? And above all, who is my real mother? I didn’t know what to expect. Although I was kind of nervous, I looked toward it.
I was sitting in the plane, heading towards a little eastern island, just before the coast of China. I thought by myself, this will be the first time I will see the country since I was born 19 years and 59 days ago. How will it be, and how will it feel? Will I be disappointed, or will I be surprised, I didn’t know.
Everything exceeded my expectations. It went far beyond my best hopes and dreams. Taiwan was beautiful. The first impressions were overwhelming. It was such a special feeling to be back at the place where I was born 20 years ago, for the first time in my life. When I now think back to it, I can still feel it. The people of Cathwel were great. They were very helpful and hospitable. I felt right at ease. They really tried to make it feel like a second home for us. The beauty of the surrounding nature was impressive. From our window at the Jonah House, we have mountain views. The temperature was constant around 35 degrees, but I got used to it pretty fast. The group atmosphere was very collective. It was great we could do this together and share all the beautiful things. I decided to enjoy every moment here and that what was still to come.
On the second day, I went to the local town hall with my passport and papers in hand. Two employees of Cathwel went along. The search was long and tension was high, but ... eventually they found my birthmother! A heavy burden fell off my shoulders, “so she's still alive!” And besides that fact, I knew where she lives. Cathwel went immediately busy to work to realize a reunion. I could only wait.
The night markets were awesome－Shilin, Ximending and Kenting. It was incredibly busy, but also very cozy. The many food stalls, where you can buy the craziest food, resulted in a gigantic stench. I understood why there were a lot people with masks walking down the street. When the first raindrops fell, it was still very hot. But I didn’t care. I became quite used to the high temperatures in comparison with the Netherlands. Every day the people from Cathwel took us to different places near Taipei. Incredibly, they covered all the expenses, including the food. We even got pocket money when we went to the night markets. We went to places like Wulai, to see the great rivers. We cycled along the coastline; we drank traditional tea on the top of the mountain at MaoKong. We visited the Taipei 101 tower at Xinji. We went to a water park with really long slides with waiting rows before it that were almost just as long.
In the mean time I had to deal with a setback. The story of my birth mother turned out to be more complicated than previously thought. A meeting with my birthmother was very hard to realize due to situational difficulties. It was well possible that the process needed more time. Probably more than the 2 weeks I had. This was very hard for me, but definitely for my birthmother as well. Despite of the bad news I received a picture of her and I must say we very much look like each other. This gave me yet somewhat satisfaction and reassurance.
Next day we went off to the south of Taiwan to travel around for 4 days. I was very excited. That was the best four days. During the trip we’ve come to know Taiwan. We visited the most beautiful places and have been at the nicest spots. We have traveled from the far north all the way to the southern tip of Taiwan. In the south we snorkeled at Kenting and went to a Hakka Village in Meinong. We visited temples and museums in Tainan and have viewed the fort Zeelandia. We cycled around the Sun Moon Lake in Nantou. I am proud that I was born in this wonderful country.
When I came back, happy news was awaiting me. My mom had called. Right at the end there still would be a meeting. I was so proud of my mother. I knew how hard this was for her. The situation was very complicated and difficult, so I was also very grateful to the employees of Cathwel for that they have made this possible. I have been looking forward to this moment for so long and it was finally about to come true.
It was the perfect meeting. Thank you people of Cathwel for standing next to me, the long road towards the meeting, during the meeting and afterwards. Thank you for the support whenever we needed it, you were always there for us. For your hospitality, for the work you’ve done for us, for the gifts you’ve given us, for the great time we spend together, for the help whenever we needed it, for giving the children opportunities to have a home and a family, for the happiness, gratitude and appreciation on your faces. I recall you had a 10 out of 10 result. You succeeded to realize a meeting for every one of us. That is an amazing accomplishment and it just put me at a loss of words. I want to encourage you to please continue to do this wonderful job you are doing. So that future generations also have the possibility to enjoy this event as much as I did. I encourage everyone, who has the opportunity, to join these roots finding trips. It will change your life!
This trip was very special to me. I look back at, what I can call, the time of my life. I have come to know my roots. Mission completed. I am going to miss it. The people, the food, the heat, the music, the night markets, the ocean, traveling, the hard mattresses, the stench, the masks, the temples, the water, the tour bus, the mountains, the wonderful landscapes, places, the sky lanterns, the language, the feeling, the stalls, the beautiful women. In between everything there was the red line of searching for my birthmother. It was exhausting, it was intensive, but it was all worth it. I promise that I will come back to see you again. And then I will enjoy your beauty even more. I searched and found you. I let you in my heart, to keep it and never let go.