A parent’s death can be traumatic, and when it reveals long-hidden family secrets, it can be all the more challenging.
Marijane Nguyen, courtesy BeyondTwoWorlds.com
Screening and discussion: June 1st, 2013 at 1pm, Copper Room (2nd level) of the Chandler Public Library, 22 S. Delaware Street, Chandler, Arizona 85225. Check http://beyondtwoworlds.com/2013/05/21/the-invisible-red-thread/ for more details!
When blogger and music therapist Marijane Nguyen’s adoptive mother died in 2008, it was just such an upheaval that lead her to question her own roots and adoption story, and inspire her to write her blog, Beyond Two Worlds.
At four months old, Marijane was adopted by a Caucasian, American family, while her adoptive father, an American serviceman, was stationed at Okinawa, Japan. Upon moving back Stateside, her parents were always reluctant to discuss her adoption. At the age of 20, when Marijane finally asked about her past, her mother got very upset – and that ended Marijane’s questions for a time.
Pandora’s box in the attic
When her mother passed away in 2008, Marijane found her adoption papers, long hidden away and forgotten in a box in the attic, and had her self-identity briefly flipped upside down. She had always thought she was Japanese and Vietnamese, but in that moment, she learned that her biological parents were in fact Chinese, living in Taiwan.
A search for answers
So began a two-year-long search for her birth family. Despite many false leads, faint hopes and wrong turns, working with a social worker from Taiwan, Marijane was able to locate the address where her biological parents used to live – and Chinese families tend not to move around. On Christmas Eve 2011, Marijane got a very unexpected gift: she discovered she had two birth sisters and a brother. And in 2012, she reunited with her birth family in Taiwan, and was welcomed as a sister.
As much as the details of Marijane’s adoption were hidden from her, she discovered her birth siblings had also been kept in the dark. One day she was there, the next, she was gone, with her birth siblings left wondering where.
Who am I?
One of the biggest questions that many adopted children wrestle with is identity. Discovering her past, for Marijane, meant re-defining who she thought she was. She wrote an excellent blog post about that redefinition here.
According to the US State Department, 2012 saw 105 international adoptions in Marijane’s home state of Arizona. With that number of children adopted each year, there is a large group of young Americans (and their adoptive parents) who will soon be juggling their multiple cultural identities, and trying to understand that perennial question: Who am I?
Honoring One’s Cultural Roots – the intersection of adoption, culture and identity
Once you jump through all of the hoops and sign all of the documents and you’re properly vetted by multiple bureaucracies and you finally make it home with your new bundle of joy, then what? Marijane noticed a need – that families with international adoptions need support, post-adoption.
She decided to host a screening of the Invisible Red Thread in order to help meet that need. She hopes to bring adoptive parents, adopted children and adoption professionals closer together, with the goal of making the transition into adoptive families as smooth and painless as possible.
After a screening of our award-winning film, Marijane, accompanied by psychotherapist Stephanie Withrow and music therapist Dalena Watson, both parents of internationally adopted kids, will host a facilitated discussion on the topic of the intersection of adoption, culture and identity.
Marijane Nguyen is a blogger at Beyond Two Worlds. She is a certified music therapist and currently resides in Arizona. You can reach her at email@example.com