Not My Flesh and Blood, But My Heart and Soul is a memoir telling of Amanda Harvey’s journey to motherhood through transracial adoption. Amanda shares her experience of maternal love that goes beyond all conventions and stereotypes, and her strong belief that there are many ways to create a family.
Choosing Life My Way
Biology is only one way of being related.
This deep realization of familial love that transcends convention, genetics and race is the underlying tenet of this book.
From her days as a newlywed, traveling abroad with husband Ian, the story traces the winding path to motherhood of Amanda Harvey. Throughout tales of life in Europe and Asia, Harvey finds that the blossoming of an ever strengthening maternal urge begins to shape the choices she makes.
The narrative follows the couple's journey through two interracial adoptions in Taiwan. The excitement and utter joy of bringing home their baby daughter, and 18 months later an infant son, as well as the emotional rollercoaster that their lives become in that period.
The final chapters find the Harveys in the present day, raising their beautiful Taiwanese children in the children's country of ethnic origin and embarking for a third time on the tumultuous and incredible adventures of parenthood and adoption.
My Way to Motherhood
This is the story of my journey to motherhood through transracial adoption.
I am blessed with a number of wonderful people in my life that I love and love me. In particular there are two people I love more than words can tell. I love them fiercely, unconditionally, with the ferocious love of a lion for her cubs.
I have known since I first held each of them in my arms that I would, and could, move mountains for them. That nothing will ever come between them and my love for them.
They are my children- my daughter, Jade Amanda, and my son, Benjamin Thomas. As I write, Jade has been in my life for three and a half years, although my time with her has a strange duality. It feels like yesterday that I first held that tiny, precious bundle of humanity in the hospital, and yet it seems as if she has been with me forever. I can hardly imagine the time when she was not here. Ben has been my son for twenty-two of the twenty-three months of his life.
I did not conceive these children nor did I bear them, at least not in the biological sense. My husband Ian and I are white Australians who have been living in Taiwan for five years. Our children are Taiwanese. These children are not my flesh and blood. They are my heart and soul. They are part of me in a way that I could never have imagined and the bond I have with them is absolute. As the adoptive mother in a transracial adoption, I know that I have had, and continue to have specific issues and emotions to deal with in my experience of motherhood.
There have been times when I have been deeply affected by ignorant behavior some people display, such as asking whether I have any children ‘of my own,’ and inquiring about my children’s ‘real mother.’ I am learning to correct them, more or less gently depending on how much of a nerve they touch. I reply that these two children, who came to me directly as a gift from heaven, bypassing the typical path, could not possibly be any more my own. I also say that I am their real mother and that the person must be referring to my children’s birth mother.
In the interests of the many, many parents and children that are brought together as families by destiny rather than biology, it is important to increase our awareness of adoptive parent/child relationships. Acceptance in Western society of transracial adoption, and adoption in general, is far greater than at any time in the past, but understanding is definitely still lacking.
The day my sister gave birth to her first child, I encountered one of those people who ask personal and insensitive questions. It really bothered me that day, as I felt very misunderstood.
It can be hurtful that the absolute bond between my child and me, although so clear to me, can be invisible to others. People accept without question the relationship between a mother and a child she has borne, but I don’t believe many people really appreciate the deep connection between any mother and the child she raises and loves, regardless of the nascence of that relationship.
While it can be personally upsetting that my connection with my children is not automatically recognized, this is completely understandable. I believe this is one of those things that one must experience to truly identify with. The comprehension unfolds over time, and I am learning as I go what it means to be a mother.
Like any parent, perhaps especially any adoptive parent, I definitely did not know how I would feel about my daughter when I first laid eyes on the tiny little infant in the hospital. I was overcome by emotion, but I had no idea how much I would come to love her, and then later my son too, how much they would become a part of me and change every aspect of my world.
In the desire to document and communicate my experiences of creating a family, I struggled with ideas of how to write this book.
Initially I planned to present my story and perhaps some of others with similar experience, together with some research and explorations of questions and answers. I honestly don’t know what genre of book this might have produced- perhaps informative or narrative non-fiction.
After spending many months trying to organise the topics and so forth into some semblance of an order, I had the revelation that this was not the best way for me to proceed. Memoirs often feature prominently on my reading list, and I decided that a memoir of my experience with transracial adoption it should be.
The questions that people ask me about my experiences and the topics on which I would like to attempt to shed a little light will be covered within the pages of this book, but not necessarily in a structured or prearranged order.
I will just tell my tale of motherhood through transracial adoption, or maybe step back and let it tell itself.