I was 10 years old when I was adopted.
I had spent all my life in an orphanage.
I had no idea it was even possible to be adopted, let alone by American families – I thought I had everything I needed.
Going to school I knew I was different. I didn’t have pretty clothes, electronics, or spending money. The biggest difference between me and my classmates was that I didn’t have parents. I had no family to call my own. To be honest, none of that really mattered because I was happy and thankful for what I did have.
I was only the second kid to be adopted from my orphanage. My best friend was adopted a few months before me. Other than that, I knew nothing about adoption.
We all had some sort of disability so we just thought that no one would want us. I remember being asked all the time if I wanted to be adopted by Americans. Of course I freaked out and said “no” every time. There was no way I was going to leave China, my orphanage, my home. They continued to ask and I continued to say “no.”
One day in December, shortly after my 10th birthday, I was told to pack a suitcase because we were going on a field trip. I remember arriving at a fancy hotel and just kept thinking, “What is going on?”
We went up an elevator and knocked on a room door and this American lady opened it and gave me a big hug.
I still had no idea what was going on. We went into the hotel room and there was also a man (they told me he was my dad), who was to be my Grandpa. Everyone started talking and doing paperwork and the whole time this American lady kept staring and smiling at me.
By this time I had figured out what was going on. I was being adopted and sent to America. This was not okay. I did not agree to this. Why was this happening? These were all thoughts that were going through my head as paperwork was being filled out.
We all left the hotel to do more paperwork and get my picture taken. I clung to my nannies with everything I had. When we got back to the hotel my nannies left and said they would see me the next day. Here I was left with two complete strangers, in a hotel room and I couldn’t even communicate with them.
Terrified doesn’t even begin to describe what I was feeling.
After a while we left to go get something to eat and when we returned to the hotel our guide was waiting for us to do more paperwork. He and my mom were talking and that’s when I started to freak out. I lost it, big time! I started screaming and crying and kicking. I was a mess. I was literally throwing a temper tantrum like a two year old. The guide kept telling me to just stop and go with my mom. I just kept screaming, “My mom is not American!”
My nannies were called and came back to the hotel and tried to talk to me, the whole time just telling me to calm down. Finally we were able to video chat with my new brother back home who still spoke Chinese. Knowing that there was going to be someone that would be able to talk to me did make me feel better.
It was definitely a moment I will never forget and one that we look back on and can laugh.
The next morning we got up and I’m not even sure what happened, but I just decided that this was going to be my mom, forever. As we left the hotel to finalize my adoption, I grabbed my mom’s hand in mine and never looked back.
Now, here I am seven years later and for the first time in my life I can really say I have everything. Everything I never even knew I wanted or needed. I have a family that loves me unconditionally.
The hardest part of being adopted was knowing that I was leaving everything and everyone behind me. I had to say goodbye ten years of my life. My friends, my school, and the people who took care of me. I had to get used to a new everything. People, food, smells, school, language, and a whole new culture.
On the other hand, even though I was thrown into a new life, I was doing it knowing I had a family. I was able to have things I never had before in China. I was finally able to fit in with other kids my age. I could finally hold my head up high and be proud of who I was.
And I was getting medical care I didn’t even know I needed. I remember looking back a pictures of myself and asking my parents why I looked so gray. I had no idea how sick I was. In fact, one of my doctors told us that if I hadn’t been adopted I probably would have gone into kidney failure and may have even died.
I have been lucky enough to be able to go back to China with my mom three times during other adoption trips. My most recent trip was this past summer when we went to get my little sister. We were able to take a few extra days and go back to my orphanage.
I had no idea what to expect. When I was first adopted I was able to stay in contact with a couple of my nannies, but through the years, we lost contact. When we pulled up in front of the orphanage there were all these people. Some I recognized and some I had no idea who they were.
As I got out of the van my Auntie who I was very close to came around the side of the van. I had no idea she was going to be there. She was calling my name in Chinese through tears. In all honestly, I hadn’t expected this to be an emotional visit, but as soon as I saw her, I just couldn’t hold the tears back.
We went inside to begin our tour and as we were talking with all the workers, my other Auntie who also helped raise me came around the corner. This is the lady who treated me like her own daughter. She took care of me, she spoiled me, and even took me home with her sometimes.
The whole experience was so surreal. That is a day I will never forget because it was such a special moment. This was an opportunity for me to get some closure which I wasn’t able to get when I was adopted.
As an adoptee, I would encourage adoptive parents to not give up. Whether you’re just starting an adoption, in the middle of one, or already home, don’t let the fear take over. Let your faith be the driving force.
Along with my Chinese name, my middle name is Faith because without my parent’s faith and trust in God, I wouldn’t be where I am now, with my family.
Adoption is hard on everyone, the adoptee, the adoptive parents, and the siblings. As an adoptee, my entire life was turned upside down in a blink of an eye. My parents talk to a lot of people about adoption and one of things I’ve overheard my mom say is how hard adoption is. It’s messy. It’s ugly and not for everyone. But, she always ends the conversation with just how beautiful adoption is and the impact it has made on our family – and that she wouldn’t change a thing.
Finding my birthparents isn’t something that I used to think about. I watched a video once about a girl who was able to go back to China and find her birth family. As I watched through tears, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to find my birthparents.
My adoptive parents have always been very supportive of the idea of us finding our birthparents if that is something we want to do. I know the chances of finding them would be very low. It’s not something I feel I need to do right now, but maybe someday.
Right now I’m truly happy and grateful for the parents and family I have.
My parents and God have made me into the person I am today. Because of my spina bifida diagnosis, by parents were not even going to look at my file. But then one day my mom said something just told her she needed to look. She says the moment she say my videos, she knew I was her daughter. I am incredibly thankful for my parents. They are and always will be there for me.
As for God, not a day goes by that I don’t thank Him for everything He has given me. Growing up in China, God was not something I knew anything about.
Christianity is not taught in China so when I first came to America and started going to Church I had no idea what to think about it. Last summer I was baptized which is something else that would have never happened had I not been adopted.
Adoption has shaped my life in so many ways…
Adoption has given me a life and a family I could only dream about in China.
Adoption has given me the chance to get an education I would have not been good enough for in China.
I am able to get life changing medical care here that would not have been afforded to me in China.
Adoption has been so powerful in my life that I can only hope and pray that one day I will not only be able to be called the adoptee, but an adoptive parent as well.
– guest post by Kalia, daughter of Mandi