Mateo Berger: Meeting My Birth Mother

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For adopted children, the chance to meet birth parents is filled with endless questions and a chance to open a new chapter in their life. Mateo Berger has this Perspective.

Hand-in-hand my mom and I walk along the colorful cobblestone streets of Antigua, Guatemala. I am 7 years old and we are on our way to meet my mother— the mother I haven't seen in almost seven years. As church bells chime, we hurry towards the bus terminal.

My mom— my adoptive American mom— hired a searcher to find my Guatemalan birth mother. Today is the day I meet her.

A few minutes later, we’re standing across the street from the terminal as a bus pulls away from the curb. While the haze of exhaust dissipates, a woman approaches us. She has thick black hair and dramatic dark eyebrows. My carbon copy. She is the woman who gave me life.

Face to face, instinctively, we move towards each other. Is this the bond of blood? Surprisingly, she feels nothing like a stranger or someone I have waited for my entire life. The interaction feels oddly natural. Hugging her feels familiar, like embracing an old friend.


At lunch, I sit on her lap and we share a plate of chicken and rice. The translator interprets her words but it doesn't take language to feel her love. Within the next few hours, I become an older brother, a younger brother, and an uncle to two. I also learn I hate plantains.

I used to be afraid my mother might die before I met her. Or that she worried where I was, if I was safe. I worried about her, too.
Like me, many adopted children grow up wondering who they look like, where they get their personalities from— their adoptive parents or their birth parents. The questions are endless.

Recently, the Guatemalan government launched a program through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Council of Adoption. This service provides Guatemalan adoptees access to a database of information about their biological roots. For adoptees, this is far more than just a computer search engine. It could provide answers to the endless list of questions.

I hope more adoptees have the same opportunity to meet their birth mothers as I did. When we met, I got closure and answers to my questions. When we hugged goodbye, I knew she got closure, too.

With a Perspective, I’m Mateo Berger.

Mateo Berger is a senior at Redwood High School in Larkspur.