I was adopted at two years so I don’t really have memories before coming to America. But I have always had a memory of being in a bathtub surrounded by colorful plastic balls. I also remember laying in a crib with a purple blanket draped over the top like a tent watching my mom on the computer.
It wasn’t until a few years after being adopted that I shared these memories with my mom and she told me those were moments that happened in China while she was there adopting me.
My adoption story is like most kids from China. I was abandoned at about a day old and found on February 16th, 2006 in a shopping mall. According to my file that was given to my parents, I was found wrapped in a blanket, and left with some formula, money, and a Buddist prayer card which was given to my mom on my adoption day.
Growing up my mom always wanted to have a “cute little Chinese girl”. She says the moment she saw my picture for the first time she knew instantly that I was the little girl she had dreamed of for so many years. After visiting my orphanage she knew that God had a bigger plan for her and our family and that she would return to China.
Since adopting me in 2008, my parents have adopted six other kids from China.
Celebrating my birth culture isn’t really that important to me (probably because I was so young when I was adopted) but we do celebrate the Chinese holidays, traditions and eat Chinese food all the time. Having siblings who were adopted from China at an older age has really helped me to be able to learn more about my culture and food.
My adoptive parents have helped me embrace my story by continuously talking about China and the reasons why they think my birth parents abandoned me. Of course I may never really know the real reason but in my heart I know that they loved me and abandoning me was probably their only option based on my medical condition.
Just knowing that I was left in a populated area wrapped in a blanket with formula and money tells me that I was loved. I may never really know or understand, by they will always have a place in my heart.
This past summer I was able to go back to China with my mom to adopt my 5 year old sister. My 17 year old brother and 16 year old sister were able to go back too. They were both adopted at 14 and 10 so they have lots of memories of China.
We were able to spend the first week in China visiting each one of our orphanages and cities. My orphanage was recently torn down so I had to visit the new one but all my caretakers were still working there. On the day we visited there were two nannies and a doctor that were there on the day I was found. There was also a nanny that had retired that they facetimed who treated me like her own daughter. She took me home with her all the time and had so many pictures and videos of me that she shared with me through facetime.
While we were there they kept having me walk back and forth in the room because they could net believe how well I was walking. I have arthrogryposis and when I was adopted I could not bend my knees or ankles so it was really hard for me to walk. They were all so excited to see me. Two of the nannies have been to America to visit and tried to find me. They said they have thought about me everyday over the years and have wondered how I was. We were able to exchange contact information so now we can talk and send pictures back.
Going back and being able to visit the people who cared for me as their own for two years was a special moment. Even though I don’t remember them it was really fun hanging out with them and listening to the stories they had to share about me. One of the stories they told me was how whenever I had a bottle I would always try to share it with the cat. It was also pretty cool to hear how impressed they were with my legs and how well I am doing.
While we were at the orphanage just before we were leaving they let me look at my original adoption file. I had no idea what to expect but one of the things I have always wondered about was what I looked like as a baby. I was so surprised when I saw a picture of me wrapped so carefully in a blanket on the day I was found.
They gave me three of the pictures (all the same) and I now carry one around with me inside my phone case everyday. This was an unexpected gift.
When naming me, my adoptive parents wanted to keep my Chinese name as my middle name so my name is Mylee Zhao Lu-Ann. They kept my Chinese name as a way to honor my culture. When I was adopted they were told that my name was given to me by my orphanage. However, when we were going through my file there was a scrap piece of paper with the name my birthparents gave me.
Zhao Lu was not given to me by the orphanage but by my birthparents!
Knowing that my middle name was actually chosen by my birthparents and that I was able to keep it because of my adoptive parents means so much to me.
God has used my adoption by opening my parents’ hearts and home to more kids from China. My mom says all the time, “What started as a dream for her became a reality and so much more when Mylee was placed in my arms.”
My adoption started my parents on a journey they never would have expected or imagined. They get asked all the time about adoption and have been able to share their story which has encouraged others to adopt.
Adoption has shaped my life in so many ways. I’m only 12 but I know that, because of my medical issues, if I would have stayed in China I would not have the opportunities I have and will have. I have been given a family that millions of kids may never have.
I was literally chosen by my parents because they answered a call from God to adopt. I cannot imagine not having the family that I have. If I didn’t have them I wouldn’t have such a great life with an even greater family who cares about me so much. I wouldn’t have all the things I have now, and I wouldn’t have a family who will love me forever no matter what.
– guest post by Mylee, daughter of Mandi