“I was adopted by my Dutch parents. I hate the word ‘adoptive parents’ and use ‘Dutch’ only to make this story clearer, because to me they’re simply my parents.
My Indonesian mother was the mistress of a married sailor who had promised to marry her as soon as the baby - me - was born. That never happened. Instead, when I was three months old, he took me away from my mother and put me into an orphanage. My Indonesian mother knew nothing about this. Now I have my own children, I find this story much more upsetting than I ever had before.
My Dutch parents lived in Kupang, on the island of Timor. They had a natural son and wanted to have more children. However, their situation made having an own child difficult and there were so many orphans in Indonesia, so they decided to adopt. My sister is also adopted. We lived in Jakarta for eleven years together and moved to the Netherlands in 1985.
My parents are real Amsterdammers, as is my grandmother Marietje, so we had always visited Holland every two years. My first memory was when I was about five years old and we went to the market. The stallholders were shouting in thick Amsterdam accents. I thought it incredibly interesting.
In Indonesia I lived in a mainly white community. I went to a Dutch international school and there were perhaps four other adopted children in the same school. It’s crazy, how such a situation affects you. I thought I was white. A kind of ‘Bounty’ effect; brown on the outside and white on the inside. People often speak to me in English; only yesterday in the shop. I used to be irritated by this, but now I just think to myself, ‘Yeah, I just look Asian’. Of course, in such a situation I reply in the thickest possible Amsterdam dialect. I have my own children now with a Dutch husband. I watch him walk along with our sons who carry my Indonesian genes and think, ‘hey, now it’s the other way round’.
Amsterdam offers me a sense of freedom. By this I mean I feel blessed because women can walk in clothes they want to wear and we are free to say what we want. And despite the fact that there are a lot of discussions going on about tolerance, I find Amsterdam to be extremely tolerant.”
1.891 people in Amsterdam have the Indonesian nationality.