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A Letter of Gratitude to My Birth Mother
The more I explore the world, the more I realize how small it is. We are countries and cultures full of people pursuing the very same things: enrichment through productive work, meaning through spirituality, and connection through relationships. Though unique in the expression and pursuit of these desires, we are all alike.
Take Claire, for instance. She coordinates international adoptions for one of WACAP’s NGO partners in Taiwan. As we talked over tea, she asked questions about the impact of birthland tours on adopted persons. She wondered how adoptive families were able to manage the vast needs brought to them by children from hard places, and we discussed trauma’s impact, and the challenge of establishing “felt trust” within adoptive families. Later, she showed me around the conference room dotted with framed photos of children who once lived in her orphanage but now live with American families. She mentioned names and knew grandparents. She cared deeply for these, her children, and kept up with them through social workers’ and families’ post placement reports and photos — items provided after the red tape, legalities and immigration work of intercountry adoption had been finalized.
"This was a profound reminder of how important these post-adoption reports are, ensuring transparency and accountability to children’s countries of origin. More than that, they are the thread that connects hearts across continents. The words and pictures are not simply filed away and checked off a list. They are poured over, and cherished by previous caregivers as if letters from home. They are that."
I also met Frank, another champion for Taiwan’s children. We crossed paths twice in one day, as he guided us through his organization, giving us insight into how they care for children in the morning, then again as he walked a family through the immigration process at the American Institute in Taiwan. It was terrific to meet and connect with a this couple at the unveiling of their family, and to now know the dedicated professionals in another time zone who so carefully consider the adjustment of a child to her new parents in those amazingly important, but often awkward first days of adoption. While every adoption story is unique, what it always comes down to is that a child needed a family.
We Americans struggle with the problem of children living without families in our nation, just like the Taiwanese or any other culture. Across cultures and countries, none of us have fully figured out the pursuit of connections through healthy relationships, sadly. But we press on, and we do better as we know better. Maybe, when together we begin to acknowledge the vast problem of our world’s orphan crisis, we might begin to better understand the vast quantity of creative solutions. We might decide to roll up our sleeves and get to work for those children I have met on this trip to Taiwan, who continue to wait for a connection to a permanent, healthy, nurturing and safe family. I believe we can do this, but we must do it together!
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