China Bridge (神州橋樑)_2014/Dec

In God’s own time

In 1959, the United Nations Year of the Refugee, 100 mostly female refugee children in Hong Kong were matched with parents in Britain under a plan to find families to accept orphans.

At the time, Hong Kong had many refugees from mainland China who were still struggling to establish themselves. Why many children became orphans is not clear, but years later, Hong Kong did set up an Adoptees Network to help women find their birth mothers.

Over the years many women have searched for their birth mothers and families. Some were luckier than others in making a connection.

On October 19, the South China Morning Post ran an article headlined, Adoptees Reaching Out to Hong Kong Parents. A woman who had been adopted by a British family came back to Hong Kong to see where she was born. She is now 49-years-old and is a professional artist.

I was deeply impressed by this woman when she said, “I want to let mothers that were forced or had to abandon (their children) due to their circumstances know that a lot of adoptees are very happy. If they wanted to get in touch there is an opportunity for them to find us. I would have liked to have known my birth mother, who she was and what she is doing now.”

I had the good fortune of helping a young woman find her birth family. Ellen was born in Taiwan into a family which already had four girls and two boys. The mother-in-law insisted on giving the latest girl up for adoption.

The newborn was adopted by an American couple in Taipei. After a few years, they returned to the United States of America (US) with their daughter and raised her well. She was already studying in a university when I met her.

A friend of mine introduced me to Ellen and she told me that she had tried to find her birth family in Taiwan. Her adoptive mother supported her in this adventure. She wrote to officials in Taiwan and sent a copy of her adoption papers, but they wrote back and said finding her family would be impossible in such a big city.

I asked Ellen if she would like to try to search again, as I have friends in Taipei who might be able to help her. Ellen gave me a copy of her adoption papers and within just a few weeks her family was found!

She discovered that she had a brother in the US and was given his telephone number. Ellen called him and both were excited about finding each other as he knew he had a sister living in the US, but didn’t know her name or address.

They made plans for Ellen to fly to California for Thanksgiving. Her brother, his wife and son all spoke English, so they could talk. Her brother suggested that Ellen join them for a trip to Taiwan for Christmas.

Since Ellen was working at a university, she had a two-week holiday and they all went to Taipei.

In Taipei, no one in the family spoke English, but the joy of finding a lost member of the family had everyone excited. Ellen gazed at her sisters with amazement as they looked so much like her. Ellen’s mother, father, grandmother and one brother were all there. Not everyone in Taiwan celebrates Christmas, but for Ellen, that Christmas was a really special gift.

One of Ellen’s sisters asked her to teach English at a university in Taipei.

She went back home, but gave it considerable thought. She agreed and spent the next academic year living with her sister where she learned some Chinese and her sister learned some English. The family had many opportunities to learn more about each other.

At the end of that year, Ellen had to return to her university in the US.

She kept in touch with me and about a year later wrote about a young man she was dating. They got engaged and planned a summer wedding. I was invited to the wedding. Her Chinese mother and one of her sisters also came.

The day before the wedding was a special day indeed as Ellen’s two mothers came face to face after so many years.

The mother from Taiwan was so gracious and loving as she thanked Ellen’s mother for taking such good care of their daughter.

It was a highly emotional afternoon. At the wedding, Ellen’s family, her husband’s family and friends were thrilled to see Ellen walk down the aisle of the church with her mothers on each side. There wasn’t a dry eye in the church!

I asked Ellen to share her joy of finding her family; here it is.

“Everything has a reason” became my mantra when I was in college. After I found my birth family at the age of 29, my mantra became, “Everything has a reason… even if you don’t know the reason.

“As I near my 50th birthday and 21 years since I found my birth family, I truly believe that God has blessed my life in many different ways, both in the most difficult times and in the happiest moments… and there is a reason for all of these.

“I was born in Taiwan and adopted when I was a week old by an American family. My adoptive father was in the US Army and stationed in Taiwan at the time. My older sister and brother were also adopted, but from Germany. By appearance, I am very different from the family I grew up in, and I’m also very different from my family in other ways. For one, I am the only person in my adoptive family to have graduated from high school, let alone college.”

Ellen holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees.

“Growing up in my family wasn’t easy. My parents were divorced when I was seven-years-old and my mother worked extremely hard to support three children by herself.

My sister and brother were not very helpful to my mother, so I tried to help by having dinner ready when my mom came home from work, helping around the house and doing my homework.

“I know there were times when I wasn’t the perfect kid, but then again I was a kid. I grew up going to Church with my mom. She had a strong faith and I found comfort in believing God had a plan for my life even if I didn’t know what it was.

“When I went to college, I felt some freedom from the responsibilities I had when I was at home. However, sometimes when I was having fun with my friends, I felt a little guilty knowing that my mom was back at home alone.

I often wondered what God’s plan for my life was and why God would put me in the family that I was in. These questions continued to be in the back of my mind as I went through college and started my professional career.

“I entered a profession where I was helping others and felt this was the type of work I was called to do. Through my work and a friend, I was introduced to a Maryknoll sister, who helped me find my birth family in Taiwan.

“After meeting my birth family, I wondered even more why God had me adopted by my American family, because I was so much like my birth family and immediately felt comfortable and affirmed when I met them.

“I believe I found out the reason I was adopted by my American family when my mom became ill. I was the one who helped my mom get all of her affairs in order. My sister and brother did not help, and I don’t say this with any ill will. My sister and brother are different from me and, for some reason, I was the responsible kid who was there for my mom… and when she passed away, I realised that this is why God put me in this family.

“In my birth family, there are four daughters to care for my mother, who also has had a challenging life. As I look back on my life, I truly believe that God had me in the right family, even with all of the difficulties I experienced growing up. I would not be the person I am today, and I would not have the loving husband and two beautiful daughters I have if I had grown up in a different family.

“I feel so blessed to know my birth family. I believe God planned it that I would be reunited with my birth family when I was ready to meet them. We have remained in touch these past 21 years; and my husband, two daughters and I will visit them in Taiwan for Chinese New Year in February 2015. My mantra has evolved to Everything has a reason, and in God’s own time, we will come to know the reason.”

Yes, in God’s own time miracles do happen. Let us pray for women, like the first woman in this article, who are still searching for their birth families.

In God’s own time, an angel was sent to give a message to Mary:

“Do not be afraid Mary, you will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1: 29-32).

A Saviour has been born to us, let us rejoice!

Merry Christmas to all from the Holy Spirit Study Centre.