Authors Note: Thoughts

When I started this page, it was for a class assignment. But as you maybe able to tell, I haven’t really posted since. I have a few drafts in the back, but those never made it out. Maybe some time in the future I’ll release those for the public to see, but as of right now, I am redefining what exactly I want to do with this resource. It’s been a few years and I have had quite a few life experiences occur to me and I’ve grown since. One of those life experiences has taught me how to better express and work through my hindrance to my barriers in communication to the world. I may go into details in a later post. No promises. I want to be real with you and lay the foundation of what you can expect. You can expect that this resource is gaged for my benefit as much as the publics. I have not set post times and I may post little or a lot at one time. It is up to me to determine that.

For those who are looking for consistent content from this page, I’m sorry to say that I most likely will never be consistent. I’ve learn to be realistic with myself, and I am busy with other tasks in life. This resource will be more of a thought holding resource for myself that primarily revolves around myself development of my adoption. If you, as the reader, benefit from this, then that is the cherry on the top. With that said. I hope you do benefit from it and, for myself, I will continue to write to help sort through my thoughts and feelings. It is up to you to determine if you’d like to continue to check in from time to time and see if there is new content.

Another hope I have for this resource, as childish as it may seem, is that someday, some how, it will reach some of my biological family’s peripheral life and they will know me in some regard, regardless of how impossible that may seem. They may never understand the full content of this resource and I am sure the language barrier will not help, but it will exist ideally in some format outside myself. I want them to know who I am and all I can do is hope that one day we meet. This is an inner wish that will never change but may never come into fruition. I am mixed in regards to how I feel about it. In some regards I’m okay with that idea and in other’s I’m sad. Some days it leans more strongly in one direction than the other. But this is one of many internal struggles I must manage for myself as an adoptee.

My last quick thoughts before wrapping up this section is where I am currently so you may have some perspective. As of now, I’m about to leave my 20’s an enter my 30’s. This prospect is both exciting and said as my 20’s have been very eventful and life changing in my development of myself. I may do a recap in the future of my 20’s but there’s no guarantee of that. 30’s is an uncharted territory but well see how that develops. Again, I hope you benefit from my thoughts and what content that may come from this. If this turns out not to be your cup of tea, then go explore. There’s a lot out there. Please feel free to reach out to me. I am always up for a good conversation. And with that, I hope you enjoy. Thank you.

Abandoned by One, Taken by Another

my adaption photo

Catalog Adoption Photo

I do not know much about my past except what I was told and what I have found. According to my mother, I was found by a police station and taken to the local orphanage. All the children in the orphanage inherited a surname that coincided with the orphanage; the name that I received was “Ma” after the Ma’anshan orphanage I resided in. I honestly recollected very little from my stay at the orphanage. My real memories do not start till I meet my adoptive mother and grandmother on June 1996 in a hotel room. Originally on the itinerary, my mother and the other expecting parents planned to pick up their child at the orphanage. However, that changed do to a breach of information involving United States media and some other orphanage a few weeks prior to the expected adoption date. That was my understanding. In the first encounter, I received my first ever gift: a cabbage patch kids doll and a new outfit. Out of all the children being adopted that day, I was the only child capable of walking without assistance.

The first person that I bonded to was not my mother, as she hoped it would be, but my grandmother. This would not become more evident than when my first night in my new home arrived. My mother, grandmother, and I traveled together for more than two weeks in a group. During those two weeks, my new family recognized that I had a bias to my grandmother. In order to try to resolve this issue that would become a problem in the future, my grandmother would leave my mother and I together. These futile attempts of bonding did not stop my tears when the time came for my grandmother’s departure.

I cried all the way to my new home. That night was a challenging and difficult night for my mother and me, but both of us got through it. After that night I slowly became acclimated to my new surroundings. Learning the English language presented no challenge for me as I easily picked it up in my first week. Once a week had passed, my mother and I visited my grandmother again. My mother would always need some guidance from her mother on how to raise me, but she steadily improved.

The Amalgamation and Compartmentalization of the Whole Self

Paining of colors mixed in.

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

Greetings

It’s been a minute since I last posted; I’m sorry for the inconsistency but again, these posts can be emotionally draining and daunting for me to get submitted. I’ve been mulling over what I wanted to write about, and there’s a lot I want to say. Organizing my thoughts, editing, and refining those thoughts for all of you reading in a cohesive manner is a process I go through every time I place content out into the world. I appreciate you for turning up and being patient with me along this journey if you have been following along. If you’re new, feel free to peruse through my old posts and this one. With that said, lets get started.

There has been a lot happening in my neck of the woods when it comes to my personal self and with the Asian community, especially those revolving around my homeland China. We had several spotlight moments in the past months with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, adoptees being recognized for their accomplishments and being analyzed by their newfound international fame, the lifting of the restriction of China’s child policies in July, the status of China and it’s world conflicts and introverted choices spear headed by the leaders, my discovery and interest in “Donghua” Chinese anime, “Manhua”, Chinese comics, and music, to aid in linguistics proficiency, and just my overall personal growth in understanding the new perspective of how the fabrics of myself intertwines with each other. I am referring to my adoption, my hobbies, my abilities, my challenges, my family, and so forth. Lots of ups and downs in my feelings when these spotlight events occurred.

 When these spotlight moments catch my eye, it takes me a while to process, I give myself permission and take the time to feel the moment, to think about how I fit all into this beautiful chaos. I want to go in depth about each fabric of these spotlighted, beautiful chaotic moments of impact from my perspective, but again, I do not want to make promises that may not come into fruition. At this time, I can only say that I would like to come back at some point and touch upon these points. With that all said, I’d like to go more in depth about the here and now.

Paining of colors mixed in.

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

Over the past several weeks, and honestly evolving over the expanse of my lifetime, I have taken the opportunity and privileged that I have been given and I have been refining, defining, and reflecting on who I am and my identity. Identity is fluid, it will change as time and understanding changes. For me, I’ve been mulling over the different fabrics of myself that make me, me. I belong to quite a diverse array of subgroups; some I take an active role in while others I pursue at my leisure. These individual fabrics of myself are not a patchwork piece as I once thought of similarly to a quilt or Frankenstein’s sowed monster with it’s stitches, but it’s an amalgamation that intersects on another and affects the overall composition of who I am. One piece of me inadvertently affects the other pieces of myself.

Never could I give you, nor any other individual, a singular comprehensive piece of myself due to the fluidity of who I am and how it changes. And, if I maybe as bold to state, I believe others are the same way when it comes to understanding an individual and their unique self. The best we can give another person that is looking to understand us is a snapshot. But again, that snapshot is only for that one time and moment in that person’s life. It could easily change within the hour, within the day or stay the same throughout. Changes can result from a verity of life events such as, but not limited to, trauma or insight.

For myself, these key pieces of myself have been playing at one another for years, but it has only been recently that I’ve process the impact and perceived my individual pieces interacting with one another. As I was growing up, I neglected to see how being of Chinese descent played into my development and self-worth amongst my peers. I hid all but neglected that piece of myself while I was young. And even in my earlier adulthood, I did not take the opportunity to see how my Chinese side played a minor, but present, role in my daily life. I continued to view it as a compartmentalize piece of me. There are many reasonings for this to have occurred but that’s for another day. I do not hold my childhood self and my adolescent self-accountable or blame myself for what thought patterns and understandings that occurred. Again, it was a snapshot of who I was at that time.

Now, as I continue to grow and gain insight on myself, I can see how those individual small pieces interact with my choices in both my private life and my career aspirations. As I facilitate others in their development and understanding of their own self-worth and power, I reflect on myself and appreciate my individual uniqueness, no matter how small or altered from the traditional pathways of my peers and heritage, it’s worth valuing. I am fortunate enough to have a career path that facilitates this inner growth. Despite my unorthodox life path, with my adoption, being raised in another’s culture, and having challenges that others may not face, it is becoming the best version of myself that matters to me and what I value.

If we do not allow ourselves the room to grow, change, and forgive we run the risk of becoming stagnate, unhappy, and resentful. Our understanding of ourselves will become a version of ourselves that we must face and present to others. It’s our choice on how we navigate or stagnate in that area of self-development. As I continue to investigate the future, I know that I will continue to evolve, feel, and grow. I make it a conscious choice to see myself as an individual that is made up of a constant melding, every changing pieces of life that make up me. Being an adoptee will always play an active role along side my identity of being a person with different abilities, a woman, and advocate and so forth. Each pieces of myself is actively, continuously, and not separately influencing the other within me to make me who I am.

Paining of colors mixed in.

Photo by Ann H on Pexels.com

Part II-Lifting the Fog: Culturally White, Ethnically Chinese

 

(This post was drafted back when I was still in my school years. I’ve updated some content and have left others the same. I have since matured to some degree in understanding, but I still wanted to post this to give you perspective of my thoughts back then. There is some strong language here, but I think it captures the raw emotion I felt at that time. I apologize if I offend anyone.)

american flag beach blue clouds

Photo by Sebastian Voortman on Pexels.com

Before college, I never really gave too much thought about how the world viewed me. I saw myself as a regular girl from the Midwest. I had no qualms in regard to who I was. Besides my adoptive past, I felt as normal as any other person born and raised in America. Some adoptive families celebrated both the adoption date as well as a their adoptee’s birthday; I would come to know these celebrations of an adoption day as “Gotcha Day.” Other families celebrate the Chinese New year. My family did no such thing, but they opted to assimilate me into the family. I was treated no differently than my other family members. There was no gotcha day celebration, and I celebrated new years day on Janary 1 like others in America. I did not even learn about my adoption day until later in life. The only exposure I really got is from media and what I learn second hand from school. China, to me at that time, fit in a small realm of Chinese themed restaurants and one particularly loved animated movie from Disney called Mulan.

My views of myself and how I fit into society did not get challenged until I escaped the safety of my small community bubble and moved away from home to college. It was then I was exposed to more cultures and a verity of individuals. I learned about micro aggression and how my bubble of safety wasn’t as safe as I once thought. It was my ignorance that was protecting me from realizing or acknowledging these actions. I was forced to evaluate who I was and how other truly saw me. This process or phenomenon of realization also has a term I learned much later on. It’s commonly called coming out of the fog. For me, this time period in my life, is when I came out. One particular event helped push me out of this fog and it occurred while I was at school.

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Photo Credit: [Jim] via Compfight cc

It hurts when someone tells you that you don’t belong, but it is even worse when someone of your own kind tells you that you don’t belong. I was told, not to my face, but behind my back that I was not a true Chinese person. They figured that since I was raised in America and did not speak like them, that I did not represent their culture. But I do, I am the result of there policies, their poor planning. If anything, I feel more Chinese than that person who was raised in America with Chinese parents. She will be forgotten with the billions of Chinese people, but people like me, adopted, will be remember because we are apart of history. We are the darker half of the xiao huangdi( little emperor) generation, the one child policy generation. It was not my choice to be abandoned and sent to another country to be raised by another culture. It was China’s choice. It pisses me off when people like that say shit like that. They have no right to say who or what I am, they gave that up when they gave me up and all of my other siblings.

This is just one example of my coming out of the fog moments. With my up bringing being from a white family system and my Chinese ethnicity, I am challenged to understand what that means to me as an individual. I have slowly started to own my roots and except myself for who I am as an individual. I don’t necessarily agree with all I said in my school years as I have gained more understanding. It is a life long process of self discovery, one that I am still currently on.

Wedding Life Event

Recently, I have interned a new stage in my life. I just got engaged about a month and a half ago and am planning the wedding as we speak.

My fiancé is a Caucasian man. I have always thought that my partner would be white as that was the majority of individual in my area. My thoughts never trailed off to possibly looking for another Asian individuals. My current experience with what other Asians gave me the impression that I just did not fit in. I related with the American white culture better. It was what I knew and felt comfortable with. My fiancé is able to communicate without the cultural barriers that other adoptees may face when engaging in a relationship from another culture.

 

My fiancé knows of my past and excepts me for who I am. He understands that I am growing in my identity and that I will always be affected and connected to my heritage. I have little quirks that I have picked up through time that reflect my Asian side such as taking off my shoes in the house, incorporating chopsticks in the utensil draw, and having a rice cooker on the counter. He eats more Chinese themed food because that is what I like.

Our journey into married life is about to begin and I could not be happier than to spend it with him. He is about to inter enter an interracial family and we may, if it is meant to be, have mixed children. Only time will tell.

 

Stand Alone Ring

Experience

plane and landIt has been eight months since I took my trip to China. In that time, I have been digesting all of the events and occurrences that have happened since then. Going back to China was, for me, a learning experience, and the group I went with served as a catalyst in my journey. What I learned about China and myself in those few weeks surprised me.

Slightly altered from the traditional* adoptees’ origin trip back to China, my first time incidentally reflected some differences. My age and the lack of a familiar family member to guide me on the voyage influenced how I interacted with the Chinese citizens. Lessons were learned. For example, an awkward moment may occur when the Chinese worker in the glass booth at the airport asks for your Chinese name and inquires after the spelling, and all you can do is just stare blankly at him for a moment because of your lack of knowledge and preparation.  Other lessons are more unique to the situations. In my case, as a group assignment, my classmates and I were assigned to complete a scavenger hunt in order to enrich our learning experience. Having little to no linguistic skills in mandarin but the appearance of one, I was looked at from time to time by individual Chinese citizens in hopes for a better translation of my peers’ questions. Needless to say, I learned quickly to let the students that were better adapted at speaking Mandarin lead the pack while I stayed in the back.

Like any good educational trip, an itinerary was put together to guide the class through the weeks to come. The itinerary included three key city locations, a few international businesses, tourist attractions, meal times, and travel times. Even with the itinerary packed, our schedule allowed for leniency on activities such as shopping and exploration. My favor shopping area was in Shanghai in a district that is sometimes called “Old Town” due to the novelty of the replicated old buildings. This area, primarily catering to tourists with loaded pockets, incorporated small shops and winding alleyways were prospecting vendors looked to help lighten the load of unsuspecting tourist. I learned how to haggle reasouvenirs lly quickly after paying ten times the price for my first souvenir. Any future vendors from there on were disappointed in their profit. My haggling skills improved to the point where I was able to get the cost of the marked up items down fifty to seventy-five percent off. In some instances, my friend and I would team up to get what we wanted.

What I really liked about shopping in Shanghai was the Chinese vendors. Either the vendors hid their surprise or showed no interest when I could not communicate with them in Chinese. Sales were on their mind, not my lack of knowledge, though some did ask after we completed a transaction. Even when the inquiry sparked, about my past, I did not feel as awkward as I had before when presented with the same question. By then, I had learned what an appropriate response was. I learned that I should only tell the bare essentials which excluded my adoption and let them speculate the rest. My comfortable feelings could have also been due to the fact that the majority of the Chinese vendors only spoke English to me.

…..To be continued

*I use the word “traditional” lightly here because not all adoptees experience the same first time pilgrimage to China. Not everyone gets to take a family, or be young when they go back to China. Other may have not made the journey, while other will never go back.

Planning a Trip

20120811_203657-1I have lived in the United States for 17 years, and not once, in that time, have I ever been back to China. When I was 12, I received a letter in the mail inviting me to got back to China with a group of girls from my providence through LifeLink, the adoption agency my mother went through to adopt me. It was not meant to be. The next opportunity would not present itself until I reached college age. In the school of business, a trip to China is incorporated into an upper level class only offered to juniors and seniors. The class focuses on foreign business and policies. This was the opportunity I was waiting for.

My knowledge of Chinese culture and history is very limited, and the fact that I cannot speak the language just makes it that much harder to plan a trip. I was and still am apprehensive about going back, but I want to go. Part of me wonders if the Chinese citizens will accept me or see me as a disappointment. I chose to go on the trip partly because of safety. Safety is a big issue for me, and I did not want to go alone not knowing what to do. With this class trip, I will be closer to my birth place than I have ever been. Even though I will not get to see my providence, I am super excited to be apart of this trip. What makes this trip extra special is the fact that my friend, another Chinese adoptee, will be attending this trip with me. The set day for the departure is May 11 , a week after my exams. This trip is sure to be an educational and personal experience for me.

Classes

Chinese classRight now, I am a senior in college getting my bachelor’s degree. My major requires me to take up a minor to fill my graduation requirements, so I have chosen to take up a speech communication curriculum. No matter what field I pursue, the speech minor would benefit me no matter what. It turns out that my speech minor has been more helpful than I had originally anticipated. Not only have I gained a better sense of communication with others, but personally, I have learned more about myself.

In my intercultural communication class, I have been given another reason to do some introspection. Throughout the course, my perception of what communication means is constantly challenged by culture. What I understood about communication for one group did not necessarily apply to another group.  My ideas of myself was also challenged in a five page assignment dealing with culture identity. The assignment in itself should have been simple, talking about myself, but the fact that it had to do with identity required some thought. How does the world view me and how do I view myself?

Culturally, I am American; there is no denying that fact. I was raised in the American traditions and have assimilated myself into the American life style. As a member of an individualistic country, I have learned to be skeptical of others until I get to know them. I view myself as being part of the white community. The world, however, has classified me as being Asian. To them, I am an outsider and another foreign entity that will skew balance of culture to the minorities. Their expectations of me consist of eating rice, being smart, failing at driving, and other stereotypes.

My family sees me as another kid in the flock, I see myself as being part of the melting pot, and the world sees me as another Asian girl. I fit in all of these brackets, but first and foremost, I am myself. I am an ordinary person. I am no different from any other individual living in America or any other country. On the ground level, we are all people who have our own struggles and history to write.

There are many different ways to explores self. All of us, the adoptees, will discover ourselves in different ways; time will guide us down that path. For me, time has led me to college on my path of self discovery.

Stories of Abandonment

When I hear the word abandonment, I always think of the One Child Policy and attribute it to my own misfortunes. However, this policy may not have been the reasoning for my abandonment. In a recent article that I read published on March 28, 2014 entitled Chinese Parents Abandon Children at Guangzhou Baby Hatch hosted, I learned several reasoning’s for children being forfeited by parents in China. Most of these children had some type of disabilities or illness that could not be treated by the families’ resources. Some families did not have the funds to support a special needs child. In one particular case, a mother took her son who seemed to be around the age of four, to the designated drop off point. The article states that she had some type of crippling illness of her own and could not properly raise the child. The only hope for these children are in the hands of complete strangers.

Most of these families had a look of anguish on their faces which makes me think of what my parent(s) might have gone through. Did my parent(s) not have the resources to care for me, or maybe they had some type of crippling illness that prevented them from raising an infant? I do not believe my parent(s) abandoned me because of any visible disability or illnesses. My friend has an idea of why a parent(s) may abandon their child. A member of the adoption agency informed her family of the possibility of fleeing families. These families that attempted to flee Royaltyeither abandoned their child in fear that that child would be too much of a liability or the families had their child taken from them when the escape attempted failed. Another possibility for my abandonment is more despairing than the other theories. This theory involves my mother being either a prostitute or a victim of the sex slave industry. Hopefully neither of these ideas hold true.

A small positive outcome from my uncertain past is the fact that I can fabricate my own origins. Here is a story I imagined when I was younger. It starts with me being a descendant of royalty or from a wealthy family. I was captured by a fiend that was going to use me for ransom, but the plan fell short when he lost me. I was mistaken for another abandoned baby and taken to the orphanage. My parents were not able to find me, and as a result believed I was dead. Unbeknownst to them, I was taken to a distant land. As I got older, my stories became more elaborate with one story including being a test tube clone baby. Until the true reasoning for my abandonment is revealed, I will continue to create stories for myself. I might as well have some fun with my past.

Reasoning

River sideToday, I was perusing my adoption papers again. I found my mother’s evaluation form from LifeLink, the organization she went through to adopt me. Before she passed away, she explained to me that she adopted me because she did not possess the capabilities of having a child of her own. The evaluation form gave a more explicit reason for her choice in adopting a Chinese girl.

In the form, it stated that my mother had always wanted to be a mother. When my Aunt, her sister, had her first child, my mother always wanted to take care of my Aunt’s baby girl. Whenever chaperones were needed for my cousin’s field trips, my mother would always volunteer. All of the interactions with my cousin just reminded my mother of how much she really wanted a child of her own. She started to look into adoption as a viable alternative.

An international adoption would offer her the best choice in children. Her original goal was to adopt a baby, but with her slight physical disability she was limited on the age of the child. Every nation has its own policies for adoption my mother found out. The African nation, for example, did not allow for white families to adopt their children at that time.  Their reasoning included the fact that the child would face cultural implications later in life. This conflict could potentially be harmful to that child. It turns out that China had the best option for my mother. She had a good chance to get a toddler, and their policies was less stringent.

Moon Light BridgeThus started her process of adoption in China. She had to prove that she had the financial capabilities as well as prove her own capabilities of raising a child. Since my mother was not married, my grandmother had to vow that she would partake in my upbringing. If a time ever arose where my mother was incapacitated for any reason, then it was up to my grandmother to take up the role in caring for me. Nearly a year and a half passed before my adoption day. It was the proudest moment of my mother’s life and an adventure of a life time for my grandmother.

All orphaned children need homes, it doesn’t matter if they are from your backyard or from another country. However, I understand why some families opt for international adoption(s). Adopted children from the states have a better chance of being taken back to their biological families. I have an adoptive cousin whose family had this issue. International adoptions are more solidified and permanent. This documentation, International Adoption Documentation, speaks of some reasoning for parents choosing their adoptees. It also helped me understand why my mother chose an international adoption, and why other parents are so hesitant to do a local adoption.

Parents of adoptees

20130329_171555This post is going to be directed to parents of adoptees. These ideas are not limited to just Chinese adoptions but can be implemented in any type of adoptions. You may have heard these suggestions before or you may not have. In my opinion, these are a few of the most important ideas to know and hopefully will be beneficial for you and your adoptee(s). Remember that each adoptee(s) is different and will develop in their own way. I am basing my ideas off of how I was raised and what I wished could have happened. As an older adoptee, I understand now that keeping the Chinese identity alive in a child is important. I think if my family would have taken a more productive role in my education on culture, I would not face some of the challenges as I do now. Do not get me wrong, I love my family more than anything, but as far as keeping my Chinese identity alive, they have fallen short. With this in mind, I do not advise you to force your child to participate in every Chinese event.

When we are children, we do not give too much thought to our future as we do when we get older. We do not look at who we are and ask ourselves how we identify in the world. As a result, we miss out on opportunities to learn about ourselves. That is why, even if a child shows no interest in their heritage, you should still educate them about it. Make it a fun learning experience for them and have the whole family get involved. Later on when or if they become interested, they will have that background knowledge to build upon. I was very sheltered at a young age and had to build my knowledge of the Chinese culture by myself when I finally wanted to know. There is so much to learn; it is almost over whelming. Most other adoptees I know do not understand the implications of adoption until they leave home. Some small random advice to consider is stay connected. Ask other parents of adoptees on what they think and how they dealt with certain challenges. Ask other adoptee(s) what their views are. Go to seminars and join groups that focus on adoption. It is easier to stay connected with others with today’s technology. Also read up on it. There are too many resources out there for parents to be ignorant of adoption. Be aware that adoption is a life long learning process, and if you do not actively seek to understand the world of adoption for your child, then you are neglecting your duties as a parent.

If a family has adopted an older child then it would be wise to document the child’s memories. Once they understand your language, have them write down what they remember from their past or have them tell you and you can document it. It is something nice to have for future references. As we get older, we forget, and old memories become more clouded. When I was adopted at the age of four, I had some recollections of my stay in China. However, I now cannot recall very clearly what my past experiences were and cannot distinguish false memories from real ones. IMG_20140317_000140

Language, I believe, is the most important thing to keep in a Chinese adoptees’ life if anything. Language connects everyone to their culture. Without it, limitations arise and true understanding cannot be obtained. I am faced with the limitations of not knowing my language. I wished my mother would have pushed me to learn my language as a young child. Seeking more information about oneself becomes harder without the appropriate language. It is best to start young, because when you get older, it is difficult to pick up the language as I have personally experienced. The gap between the child and the culture is diminished with language. If anything, it is beneficial over all. They may not use it for identification purposes, but it can be useful in other situations.

Adoption is a life changing process that lasts a life time for you and the adoptee(s). The complications and difficulties are greatly magnified compared to raising a biological child. As parents of adoptees, it is your responsibility to give your child all the opportunities to understand themselves and their past. Never hold back information from your child, and do your homework. Keep good records. Bprepared to face many emotional challenges when they get older as well as the regular challenges. From there, they must discover who they are and how they fit into society. All you can do is be there for them and help them to the best of your abilities.