The most ugly question I know regarding my childhood is the one I am most often asked.
“Do you know your real mom?”
Although ignorant and difficult to stomach for me, I actually find this question rather understandable, and I think it would be dishonest to claim that I would not pose this question if I did not have so much prior knowledge on this issue.
Although often reluctant to tolerate this question, I am extremely lucky in being able to respond to it with
“Yes, which one?”
In my view, I have two real mothers. There are two distinct but independently important aspects to motherhood. I have one mother that gave birth to me, and one that has taken care of me since infancy. Despite not birthing me, my adopted mother IS as real mother as there is: she has cared for me and loved me as if she had, and that is what motherhood is.
In 1998, I was born in Tainan, Taiwan to a family that simply did not have the means to care for me. While my birthmother was still pregnant with me, she made the fateful decision to put me up for adoption. I went to St. Lucy’s, where I was fortunate enough to receive excellent care from passionate caretakers, and have gone on to lead a healthy life in the United States. I cannot imagine the bravery it required to make such an incredibly selfless decision, one that would guarantee me a happy, secure lifestyle. This is why, with even the most rudimentary understanding of adoption, it is incorrect to characterize my birthmother’s action as “abandonment,” as it so often is by the unenlightened. I am also fortunate in still maintaining a relationship with my birth family, as unfortunately, many of these relationships do not come to be.
The Circle of Life (生命的圓圈) documents adoptions similar to the one which I went through. The first part of the movie focuses heavily on the situations which lead mothers to decide to put their child up for adoption. Many Taiwanese mothers who give birth out of wedlock find themselves abandoned by their husbands and ostracized from society. Knowing my birth mother faced similar issues during her pregnancy with me, it was really sad for both me, and her to see women stuck in such awfully similar situations. The second part of the documentary centers largely around the adoptive family, their lives, and the adopted children’s subsequent quests to find their birth parents. This section made me really appreciate the way in which my adoption was facilitated, I got a great adoptive family and a lasting relationship with my birth family.
I feel the single most important aspect of this documentary is something which I also hold dearly to myself, raising awareness for adoption. “Awareness” is a word that gets tossed around a lot, and is often used incorrectly. Awareness is simple knowledge of an issue or thing, and for adoption, that is all that the public really needs. It is of the utmost importance that mothers in tough situations such as the ones seen in the documentary know that they can go for help, that they don’t need to resort to suicide or to throw a baby away in order to escape the ordeal. In my view, promoting the futures of those kids is where the real potential in this documentary lies.