Inter-Country Root Searching: A Lifetime Question
Press Conference of A Child-Trafficking Adoptee’s Root Searching Trip in Taiwan
“I just want to know why I was put up for adoption and whom I look alike…”
A now 35-year-old Finnish “Taiwanese child”, Sabina, whose original Chinese name is Man-Lun Fan (范嫚倫), flew all the way from Finland to Taiwan hoping to find her long-separated birth family. Following the path of Kartya’s case, a press conference was held with the company of Child and Juvenile Adoption Information Center and Legislator Yu-Min Wang (王育敏) to appeal for details about her birth parents and relatives whom she has missed for countless days and nights.
This is not Sabina’s first trip back to Taiwan. She has travelled to Taiwan several years ago with her documents and a wish to reunite with her biological parents. However, what she found out was that the couple who signed her birth documents was not her actual birth parents. Her name, address, and date of birth were all faked. Although her identity was proved to be falsified, she did not give up the hope to find her own root and meet with her birth parents.
Sabina, holding her photo as a baby, said though her passport was forged, the photo on it is real. She hoped her birth parents can recognise her photo and come forward to reunite with her.
During the press conference, Sabina said she has been searching for 15 years, but reuniting with her long-lost birth parents is a dream she has never given up. Some nights she even cried to sleep as she thought of her unknown past. Sabina also said that she would not blame her birth mother for relinquishing her for adoption and believe it was a very difficult decision for her to make. When being asked what if she cannot find her birth mother, Sabina replied she has experienced ups and downs these years and has prepared herself before coming to Taiwan. If she is still unable to find her birth family this time, the only thing she can do is to carry on with her life and choose to let go of the past.
Director of Child Welfare League Foundation (CWLF) Li-Fang Pai (白麗芳) said the truth behind Sabina is a heartbroken story of child-trafficking. 30 years ago, the leader of an inter-country child-trafficking ring Julie Chu (褚麗卿) and her husband collected more than 60 babies from unwed mothers or parents who could not raise their children, falsified their identities, and sent them to Finland, Australia, the U.S., and Sweden for adoption. Years later, these babies have grown up soundly in foreign lands, but the desire to understand one’s background drives them to step on the path of root searching. All they want to know is “who are my birth parents?”, “why was I put up for adoption?”, “do I have siblings?”, and “how is my birth family doing now?”
Since operating the Child and Juvenile Adoption Information Center under designation of Social and Family Affairs Administration, Ministry of Health and Welfare in September 2005, CWLF has devoted to assist adoptees, both domestic and inter-country, to find their birth families. Currently, Child and Juvenile Adoption Information Center has contacted some of the “Julie Chu babies”, such as Sabina and Kuo, through the referral from Christian Salvation Service. However, since these adoptees’ information was usually falsified and there was no reliable information, these grown-up adoptees have encountered various difficulties on their journey of root searching.
“We don’t know how many Taiwanese children have been sent overseas due to child-trafficking,” Legislator Ms. Wang said. “30 years ago, we could not care for and raise these children, but 30 years later, we have the responsibly to assist them to find their roots and reunite with their birth families”.
Legislator Ms. Wang called for the Department of Household Registration and the National Police Agency to establish a database to archive all the information of these child-trafficking adoptees and match them with newborn babies’ household registration data in those years. An integrated contact should also be set up for both overseas child-trafficking adoptees and those biological families who come forward.
Sabina has sent her DNA samples from Finland to conduct a parental test with a Taiwanese woman, Ms. Jan, who was identified as a potential birth mother of Sabina’s. Although the result showed no parent-child relationship between Sabina and Ms. Jan, considering that the process of delivery could affect the accuracy, Legislator Ms. Wang requested the authorities to collect another set of DNA samples from Sabina when she is in Taiwan and undergo the test again.
Video clips from two overseas adoptees who are trying to find their birth families were also shown during the press conference.
Kimbra, also known as Hsin-Hui Chen (陳信惠), is now 34 years old, married, and has 4 children. She was adopted by an Australian family when she was 6 weeks old. Also being a Julie Chu baby, her birth documents were all falsified and she has no information or object that can help to identify her birth parents. Although Kimbra has tried to find her biological family for many years through various ways, all these attempts failed due to her forged birth documents and lack of information. She said the deepest wish inside her heart is to find her birth family, reunite with them, and understand her own story. Kimbra said she just wanted to thank her biological parents and tell them she is doing very well now.
Kuo, who is now 34 years old and resides in New York, was born in Taipei and adopted by an American woman. She was given a name “Omara” after her adoption, but she then changed her name to “Kuo” as her Chinese name is Hui-Ju Kuo (郭慧如). Kuo is uncertain whether her birth documents are real or not, but she still desperately wishes to find her biological parents. She said there is a birthmark at the bottom of her neck and hoped this clue can lead her to reunite with her birth family.
Legislator Ms. Wang said “Let’s help these Taiwanese children to fulfill their wish. Especially Chinese New Year is coming soon, we should be more proactive and efficient to help them reunite with families after the 30-year-long separation.”
Child and Juvenile Adoption Information Center and Ms. Wang once again appealed for the following:
- The National Police Agency should establish a database to archive all the information of these child-trafficking adoptees and match them with newborn babies’ household registration data in those years. An integrated contact should also be set up for both overseas child-trafficking adoptees and those biological families who come forward.
- We hope those medical professionals who were involved in Julie Chu’s case can hand over all the information they have. Although they have served their time, any information they have might become an important clue to find these adoptees’ biological parents.
- We hope these adoptees’ birth parents and family can come forward. Anyone who knows information relating to them is welcome to contact with the Child and Juvenile Adoption Information Center. 886-2-8912-7368
During the press conference, the director of the Division of Crime Prevention, National Police Agency Fen-Fen Shie and the section manager of the Department of Household Registration, M.O.I. Jhih-Meng Su both promised they will do their best to assist these adoptees.
Ms. Wang mentioned that there have been Julie Chu babies who have successfully identified their birth mothers via DNA parental testing. She believed there might still be some real information from the documents handed over by Julie Chu, and asked the National Police Agency to collect DNA samples from adoptees who have travelled back to Taiwan and then match them with potential biological parents in Julie Chu’s list. However, the National Police Agency said since the offenders have served their time and the statute of limitation of this case has passed, there will be difficulties in terms of retrieving more information, but they would deliberate possible solutions.
If you have any related clue or information, please contact us!
Child and Juvenile Adoption Information Center 886-2-8912-7368