Monday, October 6, 2014

Always on my Mind

I was having a conversation the other day with one of my friends who has a daughter from China and I mentioned that it was Vivian's birthday this month.  We talked a bit about our plans to celebrate her birthday and my friend said to me, "I always think about my daughter's birth mother so much around her birthday.  Do you do that?  And I answered, "yes".

But, then I thought about it and thought that really, the answer was no.  I don't think about Vivian's birth mother on her birthday, I think of her almost every day.

Some days I just can't believe the word "birth mother" is even a part of my life.  I certainly did not grow up ever thinking I would have a child that had a birth mother.  I guess I always assumed I would be that for all of my children.

But, now I have a daughter that was adopted.  And she has a birth mother.  And birth father. And that is our reality.

This is all new territory for me, living with another woman hovering around.  She lives somewhere on the other side of the world, except so often it feels like she lives right here with me.

Every adoptive parent has different feelings about their child's birth parents.  And that is as it should be.  It is such a personal thing.  I know there are many people who feel that one of the positive aspects of Chinese adoption is that there are no records of, or ties to, birth parents.  I have to admit, before I adopted, I was one of them.  I figured "out of sight, out of mind".  No confusing scenarios where a child has to navigate relationships with birth parents or half siblings or whatever.  And no one knocking on my door one day wanting their child back.  I don't like to admit this, because now, after years of being in the adoption community and listening to adoptees and birth parents, it is my opinion that this was an ignorant and pretty selfish way of thinking.  It was thinking based more in fear than in love.

I could not feel any different now.  Now that I have Vivian, all I am is sad that there are no records of, or ties to, her birth parents.  Now I hate that there is not a way for Vivian to find her birth mother, or father, or find out anything about them, should she want to.  It seems to me that so many adoptees ultimately want to know something about the people who brought them into the world.  They certainly deserve that.

I have learned that "out of sight" does not at all mean "out of mind".  When I think about how much Vivian's birth parents, and her past, are on my mind I can only wonder what it will be like for Vivian, when she is older.  Will they be on her mind every day?  And if so, WHAT IN THE WORLD will I do or say to help her with that?

Vivian's birth mother, she comes to me often and out of the blue.  Does this happen to any of you, my other friends with children from China?  Sometimes I feel like most people don't obsess about this the way I do.  I wonder, will I still do this when she has been home with us for 5 years? 10 years?

Like a few weeks ago when Vivian excitedly showed me her first "real" homework assignment from school.  She proudly held it up and said, "Picture of me!"

And all of the sudden her birth mother popped in my mind.  And I teared up thinking..... she doesn't know.  She doesn't know Vivian is here and going to school and learning and drawing and making friends.  She doesn't know how smart she is and oh, shouldn't she know?

Or like the other day when I was watching Vivi at gymnastics. And videotaping her doing her cute attempt at a cartwheel.  And then she did one!

And I thought of her birth mom.  Right there in the hallway at the gym the tears came because I thought to myself ...... she doesn't know.  She doesn't know her daughter is here, in America, taking gymnastics and doing cartwheels and being amazing. And I wonder if she was athletic, Vivian's birth mom.  And small.  Or does she get this from her birth father?  And then I just sigh because I just don't know.  And probably never will.

She came to me at the doctor today at Vivian's one year follow up from her heart repair.  As I watched Vivian have her heart checked and heard the good news that Vivian's heart looks perfect, I thought of her and how she doesn't know how brave Vivian is.  She doesn't know Vivian is healthy and her heart is healed.

And again at Vivian's birthday party.  As I watched her smiling and laughing and loving every minute of her first "real" birthday party with her cousins and friends,

I thought of her birth mom.  She doesn't know.  She doesn't know Vivian is happy, and OK, and celebrating her 4th birthday.  And she should.

She should know.  She must want to know.  Sometimes I dream that one day we will meet her.  And I can tell her the one thing I would give anything to be able to tell her because, as a mother, I think it is the one thing she would give anything to know:  I would tell her that her daughter, our daughter, is happy.  And loved.

I know that I will likely never meet this woman.  It makes me sad for me, but it breaks my heart to think of what that reality might mean for Vivian one day.

Sometimes when I watch Vivian, I feel like I am seeing bits and pieces of her birth mother.  A glimpse into what her smile might look like,

a glimpse into what her eyes and her face and lips might look like.

I might never meet her, but the truth is, because I know Vivian, I do know a little about her.

I know she must be smart.
I know she must be determined.
And for sure, she must be beautiful.

And I think of think of those three words that the nanny's used to describe Vivian in her file: "strong in heart".

And I think, it must be .... like mother, like daughter.


  1. Happy Birthday to Miss Vivian! She is beautiful! I do and I don't think of Avery's birth mother. While I am not angry at her, I am frustrated that my daughter will never know how old she is! See they have lied about her age. She turned 3 on the 19th of Sept, but she is really 2 or a little over two. We don't know and we have taken her to multiple people for evaluation and they have all said that she is no way three! So if they lied about her age is she then really from where they say she is from ???? So many questions that will never have an answer. It makes me feel said for her (my daughter). It also makes me feel a little uncomfortable because Avery didn't really have a special need beyond her eyes and that was probably caused from laying in a crib looking at the ceiling 20 hours a day, so was she really abandoned or was she stolen and why are her documents not accurate. Here I think I was doing a good thing by helping someone who didn't have a home, but was I really doing something good.

  2. I found myself very much in your words, I think of the natural parents of our little Junqian very often, I wonder if they left because they were poor or desperate, if they didn't want him or if he was taken away, I imagine all sorts of scenarios but are without answers.
    I wish She could see the new face of the child that she gave birth, her smile finally emerged from the surgeon's hands and I wonder if having the possibility of intervening she would have left anyway.
    Increasingly, since he knows that we are going to China to get a little sister or a little brother, asks us to see the pictures of when we went to him and photos of when he was little ... for now it's all a fairy tale for him, but what will happen when he will want to know want to understand, how can we fill that void?

    Many good wishes to little Vivian!

  3. Vivian is just beautiful. Praying that we are able to adopt someday as well. have you read the book "message from an unknown chinese mother"?

  4. Happy birthday, Vivian!! Honestly, I’ve already started to think about our little guy’s birth parents. I can only assume I will think about them a lot more once we have him. <3

  5. Happy Birthday Vivian! Thanks for always be so honest and open! Your photos and words are so beautiful!

  6. Happy Birthday sweet Vivian! I stumbled across your blog awhile back after we had signed on A Helping Hand I knew they had a partnership with Beiliu so I started fervently researching and luckily your blog came up. Believe it or not, we actually just received a referral for a little girl from there. Reading a full referral is heartbreaking. I never knew how many emotions it would bring about. Thank you so much for the advocating that you are doing for that SWI. I'm sure I will be combing through travel posts even more to get some tips :)

  7. Such a sweet message. I feel a lot like you do. I wish there was a way for our little boy (adopted from China) to have some ties to his birth family. We know nothing and not even his actual birthdate, just an estimate. Happy birthday to your little one. Great blog!

  8. I feel the same way. I recently wrote a letter to my daughter's chinese birth mother telling her how i feel, that my daughter is doing well, has had her medical conditions looked after and is thriving within our family and her environment. and, most of all, that she is beyond loved and special.
    -melissa (

  9. I loved your post - it really connected with me because I feel the exact same way about my daughter's birth mothers. I have two 5 year-olds, one from S. Korea and one from China. My Korean daughter is turning 6 on Sunday. Both of my girl's birthdays are very emotional for me because I know that without a doubt, a half world away, their birth mothers are thinking about them. Not that they don't think about them at other times, but for sure on their birthdays. We are going flower shopping today after school - our tradition is to let the birthday girl pick out any flower bouquet they want in honor of their birth mother. My wish and hope is that their birth mothers know the girls are happy, healthy, and loved.

  10. That's a really beautiful story. My wife and I have been trying to have kids for a long time, but we haven't had any success. We just found out that we both have fertility issues. It's so encouraging to see a successful adoption story. I think this is the route we want to take. Your daughter is so beautiful and I hope we are as lucky as you guys in finding a beautiful child we can love and raise. Your story excites me! Thanks for the blog!

  11. Maureen, I know you wrote this a while ago (just coming over after you left me that sweet comment) but I SO identify with this. Almost every time Kate says something or does something that really amazes me…I think "I wish she knew.: I wish her birth Mom knew how very amazing her daughter is and how loved she is too. I have written about it before but it has never gone away for me. Vivian is beautiful.

  12. Maureen, I've been reading your blog sporadically over the past few months, and this post really stood out to me. I'm a Chinese adoptee (b. 1995, adopted 1996), and reading this was a little reassuring. That may sound weird, but it's nice to read that you wonder about your daughter's birthmother just as much as I wonder about my own birthmother. I don't know how to explain it, and I hope you sort of understand what I mean. Thank you so much for sharing this. - Hannah