Laura Jane Murphy's ashes IIMy sister and I were recently able to return my precious mother’s ashes to her birthplace.

Honoring her life, we traveled back to her hometown. This little dot on the map, reminiscent of “Mayberry,” N.C , was established in the eighteenth century by her ancestors.

Mom died almost four years ago.  At the time of her passing, my sweet daughter was only ten.  Losing her grandmother led to a profound questioning of her own heritage. I will never forget the moment when she spilled her guts out in pain. Grief unleashed the deep sorrow of loss and awareness that she was not of my blood.

In that rare moment of emotional release, crying and in between gasp for air, she asked, “Why?  Why wasn’t I wanted?”  And, added the sentence, “You don’t know MY PAIN.” Time stood still. I’ll never forget that lost look on her face. Taking a long exhale breath, I replied, “You are right. I will never know your pain but I’ll do anything and everything to help heal it.”

In that moment, I asked if she wanted to return to Vietnam. Did she want me to start a search for her birth mother? She gave me the green light and asked, “Mom, do you think she has my feet?”  (I looked down at those extra large feet, and could feel her need to connect to the “soul” of her foot.)

There is an innate drive for all beings to connect with their roots.  To understand and touch your beginnings is the foundation for your entire life – the power of belonging is in our soul.

This desire was sparked in my daughter, and the quest ignited my own fears.  I knew the risks. Finding Colby’s birth mother in a remote village of northern Vietnam was beyond my imagination, and my first concern was greater with the possibility of actually locating her.  (Her “BM” was unwed and only 17 when she gave birth. I dreaded the thought that perhaps she kept this birth a secret. Finding her might threaten her present life.)

Would she refuse to meet Colby? I could not allow my fears to prevent me from helping to shape my daughter’s future life. Whatever the outcome, I had to try.

I made a promise to tell Colby the truth each step of the way. I had to be her one constant when it came to her story. (Some paths are orchestrated through divine guidance and questioning only causes confusion.) I wanted to shield her from any future hurts but knew she would never trust me if I did. Life began to present direction for this new path.

After much effort, and with amazing help from various connections, we found Bui Thanh.  She was more than willing to reunite with her child, my daughter.  In fact, she said that not a day went by that her heart was not longing to reunite with her first-born.

Laura's daughter and birth mother

After receiving the various pictures and a short translated letter from her, I put them in a special red box. My husband and I presented this to Colby with the simple words, “This is your story. You can open now with us, with your best friend, or just by yourself.  It is in your time.”  She wanted to share the box with her best friend.  Later that night, we could hear my daughter’s sweet voice as she read aloud to her friend the letter.  Up in her room, the two of them shared those first pictures and letters crying together, as only best friends can do.

Last summer, we made the long trek back to Colby’s homeland and connected the dots to her birth. My husband and I were witnesses to the moment when those two hearts finally connected again. This profound magnet of intelligence is beyond my understanding.  We simply followed.

The entire village came out to greet this young girl with tears of joy that had no language barrier. Colby was able to walk on the earth of her ancestors. She could feel the immense pride of her large extended family as everyone from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and half –sisters wanted to touch her.  This was my daughter’s heritage, her blood, her roots, and her foundation of life.  And yes, her BM had the same feet!

Laura's daughter and birth family

Last week, my sister and I touched the sweet earth of our history.  By reuniting with my mother’s story, we again embraced the beauty of her integrity, her courage, and her strength of character.

I only hope to pass these traits onto my daughter.  Yet, there is the “knowing” that she already has them stored in her DNA from a source thousands of years older than mine! Mothering is the fearless path of extended legacy. A linage of life passed through blood.

Even though my child was not born of my blood, she has her full life to learn our family history through my heart.  Love is the link.



Thank you mothers, everywhere, for continuing this foundation for our children.