Sarah Mårtensson

ICAV Blogger

I am Sarah Mårtensson, born in Iran in 1977 and adopted to Sweden at the age of three months. 

I can still remember what it felt like before I understood I was different. I remember the pain of not being able to participate in endless family discussions of who looks like who. The horror of being a victim of racism as a young child. With no-one at home to grasp what it’s like. 

But every coin has two sides: to be an outsider made me more courageous than my peers. The only thing I really feared was going back to Iran. My parents kept telling me Iran would never let me out again because of the dual citizenship situation that all Iranian adoptees deal with. 

I theoretically wished I was adopted from South Korea: so that I could travel there easily (and someone would want to come with me); so I wouldn’t have problems every time I went to the USA; so I wouldn’t be sexually harassed by Arabic men targeting me as one of theirs but a “free” woman.  Now I know that South Korean adoptees in general get more sexually harassed than I do, which is horrific!

In November 2018, I got the results of a long-due DNA-test. To my extreme surprise I matched with TWO close relatives both living outside of Iran. One of them asked her dad if there was a story like mine in their family and BOOM!!!!

My life changed in a second. I had long ago written off the possibility of finding my biological family. I only knew one thing, that I had been found in the Imam Reza Holy Shrine in the city of Mashhad. That wasn’t enough information to go on search/reunion TV-shows or do my own research. 

My DNA-relative informed me about a woman who had her child taken from her at the time and place that matched mine and who looked a lot like me. Then we figured out how I was related to the other one DNA-relative. The first one was related to my grandmother and the second to my grandfather (both on my mom’s side). So there was no question. I had to face my fears and go to Iran, even though I was unprepared from a language and reading perspective. My mom was old and I couldn’t waste a second. 

During these times I have had many thoughts on the complexity of adoption. I share them in a Facebook group for Iranian adoptees and now I am happy to share them with a wider audience.

My education is in psychology, business and music. I am a customer insight analyst, a copywriter and a music journalist.