I reunited with my birthfamily in Taipei, Taiwan, in January 2012, during the Lunar New Year. I can’t even begin to express what a life-changing event it was. I met my two older biological sisters, their spouses, my older brother, nieces and nephews, and our Uncle, the Patriarch of our family. I did not have the opportunity to meet my birthparents, as both had passed on years earlier. I learned that my birth father died around the same time as my adoptive mom.
Growing up, I never entertained the thought of searching for my birthfamily. My adoptive parents hid my adoption records, which I later found after my adoptive mom passed away. My adoption record held information that was quite contrary to what my mom had shared with me. To this day, I’m left wondering if she lied about my past. After learning the truth, I was struck with an insatiable curiosity. I set out to find answers. That led to a three year search for my birthfamily. I won’t go into all the details, but will share an incident that led up to my search.
After my adoptive mom passed, I attended a Bonny Method Guided Imagery & Music (GIM) training at Arizona State University. Briefly, GIM is a type of psychotherapy utilizing classical music to assist individuals in uncovering unconscious material and emotions. Watch a brief video about GIM here. My classmates and I were graduated music therapists. We were paired up and were each given the opportunity to be the “client” and the guide, or therapist. I went into the training worried because my adoptive mom had recently passed away, and I knew that the training might cause more grief to surface. At the same time, I was also concerned that I would not be able to “travel” as they call it, or be able to conjure any images while “travelling.”
When it was my turn to be the “client,” my partner and I found a spot on the floor. I was lying on my back, and he was kneeling near my head. The music began. Eventually, images began to flow. I entered a room that looked like a library. There were bookshelves with hundreds of books. Several minutes in, a cloaked figure emerged in the distance, its face was hidden by the hood of the cloak. Initially, I was afraid, as the figure appeared ominous, its cloak was as dark as charcoal. Barber’s Adagio for Strings was playing. If you’re not familiar with this piece, it is intensely beautiful and mysterious. There is also a yearning and a sorrow underscoring this composition. I highly recommend giving it a listen here.
As the figure drew nearer, I knew in my heart that it was my birth mother. She reached out to me. I remember her long, graceful fingers, which were gloved in grey. We embraced. It was a feeling like I’d never experienced. Joy, sorrow, disbelief, mystery. I then saw my adoptive mother. Her face was lit up, and she was beaming down at me. The first thing she said was, “I’m okay!” By this point, I’m sobbing. I sensed that she wanted to tell me something vitally important. She wanted me to know my birth mother. It was time. It was like she was trying to connect us. I didn’t know at this time that I would eventually set out to find my birthfamily – that did not occur until months later. My birth mother and I held each other for what seemed like an eternity. She told me that she did not want to give me up and that she had given me my musical abilities. I later learned from my biological sisters that our mother loved classical music and learning, which are two of my favorite things.
When it came time for my birth mother to leave, she exited slowly, walking backwards. I cannot begin to tell you the sorrow I felt in watching her leave. Later I watched as my adoptive mom was taken away by white beings. I can only describe them as angels. The music had changed to Mozart’s Serenade in B-Flat. The angels moved to the beat of the music, lovingly carrying my adoptive mom away until I could no longer see them. Both my moms had left me. I should say that because I had such an intense experience, one of the facilitators came to my side to help me through it. They had purposely selected the piece by Mozart because of its ability to contain strong emotion in a way that felt safe and comforting. There was much more to this event that I don’t have time to share. Suffice it to say, it was truly transformative.
The drawing above is an imagining of my birth mother. I never saw her face during the GIM imaging. It remained cloaked in darkness. My biological sisters gave me a picture of our mother when I went back to Taiwan, but she was much older when the photo was taken. My sisters said that I look like her when she was young. Unfortunately, they no longer had any photos of our mother when she was a younger woman. So I’m left to my own idealized imagination and creative intuition.
I believe that the experience that I had with GIM was only the beginning of a journey that led me back to my roots in Taiwan. For adoptees, the journey is never really over. It evolves, it twists and turns, but it never ends.