I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the meaning of family.
As the mother of a little girl from China, I’ve known for a long time that it goes a lot deeper than blood ties. Now I know it can extend to a woman I’ve never met, 8,000 miles away, in Guilin, China.
We have found our daughter NiNi’s foster mother after years of searching.
Ever since the adoption, people have asked, “Do you know anything about your daughter’s birth family?”
We always say, “No, we’ll probably never know anything about her family.” That answer always felt unsatisfying because it left out NiNi’s foster mother, the woman who cared for her so lovingly the first year of her life. What would it have been like to raise her as your own, then give her up with no word of her?
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The futile fantasy of finding her birth parents gave way to the dream of finding her foster mother. But we got nowhere. A Chinese-speaking friend contacted NiNi’s orphanage but they offered no leads. We weren’t surprised; we had often been told that orphanage officials discourage contact between adoptive and foster families.
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[Finding a letter from a family whose child had been fostered by the same mother] Now she was asking for a small return on her investment; she hoped the Webers could help her find four foster daughters who had been adopted by American parents. Foster Child 4 had been “born September 6, 2001, left foster mom November 17, 2002.”
All this time, as we searched for her foster mother she had been looking for us.
Click here to read the whole story.
When I found out with her referral information that Maya was in foster care, I was determined to continue contact with her foster family after the adoption. We sent a box of presents to Maya even before the adoption, and I put our address, phone number and email address on EVERYTHING! I even hid our address behind photos in the small photo album I sent. That package was sent via the orphanage, so I wasn't sure the address remained undiscovered and delivered to the foster family.
We were delighted to meet Maya's foster family at the time of adoption, and I was able to hand-deliver our gifts to Maya's foster mom. I hid our address in everything, again! I put the address openly in lots of places -- photo of our house, where Maya would be living, labeled with our full address! Where I work -- a business card, that included my email address! I slipped my business card into the package with a necklace for the foster mom. I put it in with money in a red envelope. I actually handed it to her, too. All of this happened at the orphanage, so I wasn't sure if it would remain with her.
After we returned home, and a few months had passed without hearing from Maya's foster family, I contacted another adoptive parent from the same orphanage. They had adopted the month before us, and had made contact and continued contact with their child's foster family. I asked the dad to send the picture we had of Maya's foster mom and foster sister to their foster family to see if they knew her. They did, and gave me her email address!
When I emailed her, she said they had emailed me, but hadn't heard back. I think the message must have ended up in my spam box. I can't imagine what they must have been thinking, after we had given them contact information, when they didn't hear back from us. I'm so glad I didn't just assume they weren't interested in keeping in contact!
They have also asked me for help in finding other children fostered by them. The picture above is Xia Feng-Yi. She was fostered either through Mother's Love in Nanning, Guangxi Province, or Nanning SWI, in Nanning Guangxi Province. I'm not sure exactly when she was fostered -- sometime after 2007, I believe. Click here for the photo of another child fostered by the family; she was with them when we visited in 2007, and was fostered through Nanning SWI, in Nanning, Guangxi Province. She was about a year old then, and the foster family told me that her file had just been sent to CCAA. I've posted this information on a variety of adoptive parent sites with no result, so I thought I'd try again here. Feel free to pass on the info, and contact me if these children look familiar.