Most people know the exact place, day, and minute they were born.
But my age? It’s only an estimate.
I was found in a rural town in China as an infant before being taken to an orphanage. The people who found me could only guess that I was around two weeks old. I have no memories of this, though I suppose no one can remember what their life was like when they were a brand-new soul in the universe. The difference is, adoptees don’t have the luxury of hearing their story from their parents. During those two weeks I was with my birthmother, I like to imagine that she cuddled me and sang me lullabies. I imagine her picking me up in the middle of the night and whispering, “I love you”, as she rocked me back to sleep.
To my knowledge, I was only in the orphanage for a couple of weeks, but was lucky enough to be transferred to a foster family. My adoptive parents adopted me when I was nine months old. I’ve lived in the United States ever since. The first few years I lived with my adoptive family were pretty good—at least all the home videos would say so. I vaguely remember when I started walking and being able to play with my sister, who is my parents biological daughter. My whole family was thrilled to have me.
Being adopted changed my whole future. In China, I was destined to grow up in a poor, rural city, marry a farmer, and spend the rest of my life raising a family. My life in the United States has afforded me a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle where I was able to attend a great public school and get a college education from a world-class university. I now live on my own and am so happy to be able to visit my adoptive family as often as I’d like.
But, the problem with being adopted so young is that you don’t have the autonomy yet, or the ability to understand abstract concepts such as “adoption” or “emotions”. You can’t speak for yourself. And though I don’t have any concrete memories from my days in foster care, my initial feelings about life, feeling abandoned, lonely, and fearful have stayed with me for a long time. Questions such as, “Why did my mother abandon me?”, and, “Am I unlovable forever?” have been something I’ve had to learn to emote and speak about as a “regular person” (i.e. non-adoptee). It’s been a long learning and growing process because these feeling have been at the center of my unconsciousness for most of my life.
I’m proud to report; however, that despite my trauma, I’ve built a strong, healthy relationship with another human being. My adoption instilled a sense of self-worthlessness and distrust of others. Finding someone I could open up to and completely trust, while feeling confident about myself, has been an amazing experience. We’re even taking the next step and moving in together! It’s a huge milestone for me.
I do want to go back and find my birthparents one day. I wish I had something from my past—a note from them, a piece of quilt my mother made, just something that I could find them with. But, the odds of locating them in rural China are extremely thin: records aren’t well kept, and most parents abandoned their kids instead of surrendering them to an orphanage due to the political climate.
I will return one day, once my financials are in order. I see myself in contact with them, but I don’t get my hopes up too high.
I plan on moving forward, with my relationship, with my blog, with MY life. My blog’s purpose is to share my story. Yes, I’m adopted, and I hope my story will change the way non-adoptees respond to someone telling them they’re adopted: “Oh, I’m sorry”.
Don’t be sorry. Ask me about it.
Each adoptee has a different story, so don’t lump us together.
Let me tell you the great opportunities I’ve been given, let me speak before putting your assumptions on me. Because I’ve got an awesome story, and it’s better than you, or I, could imagine!