Thai adoptee Taylor Beebe shares her experience with the adoptee birth search process, and how it felt to meet her birth mother for the first time in 20 years.
“Hello, my name is Taylor, and a fun fact about me is that I was adopted from Thailand.” This is my go-to quick fact during icebreaker activities or when I’m meeting someone new.
Whenever I say that I am adopted, people always show a lot of interest. They think that it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread. What those people don’t always understand is that adoption isn’t simply the “coolest” thing. It’s much more complex than that. I love my family and adoption is an essential piece of my identity, but I have struggled to process my feelings as an adoptee. It hasn’t always been easy for me.
I was adopted at a young age and the only family I’ve ever known is my adoptive family. People always ask me what age I was when I found out I was adopted. The truth is, I never really “found out” — I just always knew. I was the only brown girl in family pictures, surrounded by my white relatives, and it was clear that I wasn’t biologically related. I grew up in a small town in southwest Wisconsin where cows moo, the weather is unpredictable and there isn’t a lot of diversity. It’s safe to say that I stuck out like a sore thumb — not because of who I was, but because of what I looked like.
Growing up, I struggled with mental health issues rooted in identity and discovering who I was. It wasn’t until college that I realized I never had the chance to mourn the loss of my birth family. I began taking steps to process its implications on my identity, and I’m so glad I did. Because I learned how to grieve and reflect on my adoption, I grew to do things I never thought I could. I felt empowered to ask about my birth mother and to look at pictures of my parents adopting me in Thailand. I was still learning, but things were hopeful.
And soon, it was my junior year of college.
Finding My Birth Mother
I was doing well. I was getting good grades and I had a great group of friends. It seemed like my future was falling into place. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that the last piece of the puzzle was missing.
During winter break, my family and I decided to take a leap and travel to Thailand. I decided that if I was going to travel that far, I wanted to try to contact my birth mother. I contacted Holt’s Post Adoption department to ask for more information about what the adoptee birth search process would look like. Holt was incredibly supportive through this process, offering me resources on how to safely reach out and tips for traveling. The Post Adoption team also met with me before connecting me directly with the Holt team in Thailand.
Unbelievably, the social worker who reached out from Thailand remembered me — I was her very first case! If that isn’t a perfect example of the saying “it’s a small world,” I don’t know what is. While Holt began the search process on their end, I started looking online. I logged on to Facebook and began searching my birth mother’s name, written on the back of the single picture I had of the two of us.
After searching, I found my mother on Facebook. We connected over Facebook Messenger and she told me how she waited and dreamed of the day we would finally meet again. Of course, I reached out to Holt Thailand to ensure that I had found the right person, and through records, we confirmed that it was!
Within about three months, I took my final exams, reconnected with my birth mother, met some family in Thailand via video chat (including two half-siblings) and planned the logistics of our upcoming trip. It was a lot to take in for a 21-year-old who was just trying to get through her junior year of college! Leading up to the trip, I had a lot of fears and doubts about meeting my birth mother. I constantly went back and forth, trying to decide if I still wanted to go….
But with the support of my family, I decided to move forward with the trip. Soon we were all on a plane to Thailand! It was so beautiful. We visited temples, ate amazing food and saw elephants.
At first, it felt like an absolute dream.
But of course, after the dreamy feelings passed, I felt myself coming back to reality. During the trip, I struggled with what felt like culture shock. I was satisfied that I fit in physically, but I still felt distant from my culture emotionally and mentally. I wanted so badly to connect to my roots, but it felt like there was still an invisible barrier between my heritage and me.
After a few days in Bangkok, we flew down to Krabi to meet my birth mother. Just before we were about to meet my mother for dinner, I began questioning everything. I was nervous, stressed, sad and uncertain.
I thought, “Am I really doing this right now? Am I really going to meet my birth mother?”
During my trip, I was in constant contact with Holt via email. My social worker always reminded me that this was a big step to take and that it was okay to go at my own pace. Her constant support along the way reassured me that my story, whatever way it played out, mattered. Keeping this in mind, I kept moving forward.
And all of a sudden, it happened. I met my birth mother.
At that moment in time, everything stood still. Twenty years of my life came full circle. I found my missing puzzle piece. I can’t explain how it felt. But that picture of us, reunited, is truly worth a thousand words. For years, I had wondered how my mother could say goodbye to her child. But at that moment, I realized that my birth mother made the ultimate sacrifice to give me a chance to live the life she always dreamt I would have. For years, I thought she had forgotten about me. And for years, she went to the temple almost every day to pray that we would meet again. She never gave up on me; she had hope for the both of us when I felt like there was no hope at all.
Just like adoption, this trip was a rollercoaster of experiences and emotions. Adoption isn’t perfect. It’s joy, grief, hope, sorrow and love all at once. But I am so blessed to have had this opportunity. I realize that not every adoptee is fortunate enough to have an experience like mine.
My birth family and I do the best we can. We’re still continents away and a culture apart. Twenty years is a long time to make up for, but the best we can do is to build a relationship with the time we have left.
I consider myself a private and quiet person, but I share this story for other adoptees like me. Adoptees who are longing to understand their identity, to feel a sense of belonging. For some, maybe that means taking the step that I did — an adoptee birth search.
Meeting my birth family wasn’t at all what I imagined it to be. I dreamt of this day for years, and somehow, each moment played out differently than it did in my head. But that’s the great thing about special moments. They can’t be pre-planned. They can’t be predicted. They just happen in time. At the right time.
Taylor Beebe | Thai adoptee
The birth search process can be challenging. Success is often dependent on outside factors, including the available information from the country of birth, size of the birth country, birth country laws and whether birth parents are open to reconnection. A search for birth family is possible for some adoptees, but it may not be for all.
At Holt, we are here for all adoptees through both successful and unsuccessful birth searches. Please contact us at [email protected] for resources, support and more.