Ready, Set, Write!

Hi. I’m back. It’s good to write after a long hiatus, but it’s also really hard! I jumped on again because in the last week, I have had two people ask for my adoption blog’s address. So, thank you to those two people, and thank you to whoever is reading right now, whether you’ve been following my blog all this time or if you’re a new reader.

Knowing that my experiences can help others gain a bit of insight on Chinese adoption really encourages me to continue sharing. It gives me strength to write a memoir that I know I must do. At times, it’s really tough for me to write, because my mind often freezes from thinking overload. I wish there was a refresh or restart button for my brain, just like one on computers. But, I have to be patient and let myself process things, even if my eyes are about to cross and my mind goes blank. And this is why I have not written in so long! Moments when I can’t think have come up all too often, and this is because . . .

I HAVE FOUND MY BIRTH PARENTS.

Yes. I have found them, and I have met them.

How?! When?! Where? Why? And now what? And now what . . .

Good questions. It’s funny to say, but I am asking myself these questions right now at this very moment. My mind is turning, pausing, flickering, rewinding, and fast forwarding. I need to process this information, and that’s okay. This is normal.

As I digest what this all means to me, I will write a first, rough, cringe-y draft of my adoption story, and I will post blog updates as I tumble along. For the next few weeks, months, years (???), I hope, word-by-word, that the memories I write will take shape and form a memoir worth reading.

 

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Searching for How to Search for My Birthparents  

After seeing a play two years ago about the Korean adoptee finding her birth mom, I decided I want to search for my birthparents. The problem is that I don’t know where to begin, and I am scared of what may happen. I have researched adoptees’ experiences growing up after they’ve been adopted, and I have visited China as a study abroad student, but I am inexperienced when it comes to searching for international birthparents.

A moment ago, I briefly looked on the internet for how to start searching, and I was instantly overwhelmed from just the first couple links. Where to start? Who to contact? How much money? Is it safe? How long will the process take? What documents do I need? What if I come up with nothing?  Continue reading

Sofia’s Journey

“Who is that girl I see?

Staring straight, back at me.

Why is my reflection someone I don’t know?”

A familiar heaviness swells in my chest as I hear these lyrics from Disney’s version of “Reflection” in Mulan. I hit replay over and over and I’m not sure why since I’m feeling choked up about it. Perhaps I enjoy stirring my emotions so much that I need to cry because then maybe if I cry enough, the pain will go away. Unfortunately, it remains with me no matter what I do. On a positive note, I am not consumed by this grief. If I dwelled too long on it without enjoying present life, I would dig myself a hole far too deep to climb back out. But it’s these random coincidences, however, that make me vulnerable, and I wish that I could cry my eyes out just once and get rid of these emotional heart attacks. A song. A movie. An assignment. A comment. A visit to the doctor. A long look in a mirror. All these things can spark questions and melancholy.

Sofia, a Chinese adoptee like me, sang “Reflection” in Dr. Changfu Chang’s documentary, Sofia’s Journey, when she was visiting China with her adoptive parents. She says the chorus has a lot of meaning because “kids back at home have their birthparents, and I don’t. You look at yourself in the mirror and you’re not able to . . . you don’t know who you came from really.” Continue reading

Long Wait for Home

My birthparents are a mystery to me. If I could speak to them now, I would have so many questions for them. I imagine the initial conversation would be awkward and emotional. I only know how to speak a little Mandarin Chinese, so a translator would probably be there to help. I would start with small talk like asking how they are and how the weather has been. Those questions may be boring but at least they don’t bring up painful memories that feel like someone’s squeezing your heart. Why did you give me up? Do you want me back in your life?

Perhaps I won’t say anything until they say something. I wouldn’t want to mess up by saying something that is not usually said in Chinese culture. Additionally, even if I did seek them out, finding them would bring up more questions. Do I want to maintain a relationship with them? Was this the closure that I needed or has it opened up new emotional issues? I can’t explain how incredible and emotionally jarring it would be to be able to meet my birthparents. Part of me wants to find them and part of me hopes that if I look for them, I don’t come up with anything, because then I wouldn’t have to go through the trials that come after you locate them. What if they reject me . . . again?

My thoughts about my birthparents have always been confusing. I feel bitterness toward them because they gave me up, but I also feel like they cared enough for me to place me somewhere that I could be found. It’s hard for me to believe what happened unless I hear it from them, and of course, that may be impossible. After watching Long Wait for Home, a documentary on Chinese adoption from 2008, I have been convinced that my birthparents were in a difficult situation when they chose to relinquish me. It saddens me that they must have gone through a lot of anxiety and pain, but I am comforted to know that I was not given up just because I did something wrong. Dr. Changfu Chang, the director of Long Wait for Home, shows perspectives on adoption from birthparents, caretakers at Chinese orphanages, and Chinese citizens. For adoptees, it is not unusual to know birthparents only from imagination. Many questions lead back to them that remain unanswered, and adoptees may feel a range of emotions when they begin to wonder about their past and who they came from. The driving message of the documentary is that the people who adoptees often think about are also thinking about them. Not only that, but adoptees are cared for and loved by the people in China who were with them before being adopted. Continue reading