I’m adopted. I’ve never thought of myself as unique or special, but for some reason everyone I meet is intrigued with my story.
“I am the mother of Lin Han-Mei who was born on December 30, 1986. I am almost 16 years old. I am still a student. I have no way to support or care for my daughter born out of wedlock. I irrevocably release her for adoption and immigration to the United States.” This was the letter from my Taiwanese birth mother which severed her legal rights to me.
At just five months old, I was adopted by an Irish-American mother and a French-Canadian American father. I consider them to be my true parents. They raised me, supported me, and they taught me my values; I didn’t learn those from my birth mother.
I didn’t major in psychology or sociology, but I believe in the theory of nurture over nature. I share so many personality traits with my mom (for better or worse!) and when making decisions I still think, “What would my mom say?” My adoptive mom, that is: my real mom.
There have been many times—in the middle of Walmart, walking down the
street, standing in an airport security line—when strangers have come up to me and point-blank asked about my nationality. Unfortunately, I don’t know what it is. I know my biological mother is Taiwanese but I don’t know who my birth father is or what race he is. People assume I’m Thai or Filipino, and they’re surprised when I say I’m at least half Chinese because of my darker complexion.
Incidents of racism and discrimination are few and far between, but they do happen.
When I was a baby people would stop my mom all the time and ask: “Will she speak ‘Asian’ when she grows up?” Or my favorite: “She’s so cute, where did you get you her?” My mom’s response? “I got her out of a Cracker-Jack Box, where did you get your kid!?”
Roll call in college was always interesting because teachers would call out “Katie Landry” and would do a double take when they saw my raised hand and my Asian looks.
I’m constantly asked if I want to find my birth mother or travel back to Taiwan. If I had the opportunity to go to my birthplace I think it would be fun, but I wouldn’t necessarily need to meet my birth mother. Besides, what if she doesn’t want to meet me? And I wouldn’t want to disrupt her life. I support her difficult decision to give me up for adoption.