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Adoption stories

Family photo: 1982. Hamden, Connecticut. Left: (front) Lorial, Bruce, Robert, Edward, Julie.

Lorial Crowder
New York, NY

Birth Country: Philippines
Decade of adoption: 1980s

Personally my focus about my own adoption experience has been surrounded by my own development of self, as a Filipina-born, American-raised woman of color, wanting to find a balance between my multi-faceted identities. I have shifted my efforts to advocate for the needs of post adoption support services for adult adoptees by launching the first cyber community Web site for Filipino adoptees.

I often start my adoption story by telling people that my life began when I was adopted from Olongapo City (Subic Bay), Philippines by my American family, the Crowder's, in September of 1981. I arrived one day before my brother Bruce's birthday and everyone often joked that I was his surprise birthday gift.

Since my adoption I have been very fortunate to visit the motherland of the Philippines four times. It was not until I was 21 years that I began to explore means of how to learn about the Philippines.

I grew up using the Internet years before there was Google or other programs. This is how I was introduced to various youth organizations and cyber communities. It became my outlet to educate myself about my motherland and become more active with youth organizations. I am most grateful for the New Filipina, Inc., cyber community for Filipina women worldwide that had a large impact and contribution to my own understanding of being a Pinay (Filipina) and how to embrace it.

In 2003, I returned back to the motherland to seek more answers about my past and gain more understanding about the country, which was once my home. Since then I have been spending each summer wanting to absorb as much of life and society that the Philippines once offered me as a former citizen.

I recently returned after a six-week stay where for the first two weeks my mother (who was visiting for the first time) accompanied me.


My growing relationship with members of the Inter Country Adoption Board (ICAB) Philippines has assisted me as I ask about lingering questions about my former years in the orphanage. These individuals have become my extended family, always finding time to listen to my struggles, frustrations and triumphs. I learned that to this day, the woman who signed my passport still works at ICAB. I have come to the conclusion that I most likely will not be reunited with my biological mother so even the smallest connections with people like the woman who signed my passport has filled the gaps of my past.

Every journey back to the motherland has provided me with more insight about the international adoption process, appreciation about being Filipina as well as my own evolution in life's trials and tribulations.

I eventually learned, after a visit to the orphanage where I spent my first five years, more news about my past. My biological mother ended up in Subic Bay, one of the major American air force bases in the Philippines, seeking employment. She met a gentleman whom she had relations with and later discovered she was pregnant. After sharing the news with him, he left her fending for herself. She decided to relinquish me while she was still pregnant.

I grew up in King's Fil-Am orphanage in Gordon Heights until the age of five. After years of assuming that my biological mother named me, I learned during my visit in 2003 that the former executive director, an American from Seattle, Washington, had named me; her sister, a teacher at the military base, requested that the next female child be called Lorial. It has been pieces of information such as this that has allowed me to fill the gaps of my unknown past.

I have had occasional curiosity about my biological traits although I have not had a strong urge to search for my biological mother. To this day I have no resentment towards her for the choices she made, but rather, have concentrated on educating myself about the Philippines. Accepting that I have had an enriching life has led to my wanting to help other Filipino adoptees. I attribute this to my upbringing with my adopted family, the Crowder's, which has been very nurturing. I often felt like the odd one out, particularly being raised in a predominantly Caucasian community. My family has always been supportive and open-minded about understanding and integrating my Filipina roots with my already American values.

My life has been permanently marked by my adoption and I know it was my destiny to become a spokesperson for the need of post adoption supportive services for international adoptees. The recent launch of the Filipino Adoptees Network (www.filipino-adoptees-network.org) with my co-founder Sharon Cuartero (also a Filipina adoptee) has been another link to strengthen my own understanding of international adoption and its creation of blended families worldwide. International adoption is a lifelong journey for all involved and has many complexities that continue to raise ethical questions that cannot be ignored.

Being adopted has defined me and has been one of the greatest challenges. I continue to forge ahead and hope that sharing my story will contribute to the understanding and ongoing development of international adoption issues.

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