Bridging My American and Chinese Identities
Tears fell from my eyes as I finished the last pages of Messages from an Unknown Chinese Mother, which holds the stories of mothers who were forced to give up their children. It has provided me with the answers that I never knew. Its honesty, pathos, and raw emotion have greatly touched me. I am a sixteen-year-old girl who was adopted from Wuhan, China at fifteen months old. I now live in Boston, Massachusetts with a loving and supportive family.
Throughout my life, I have faced an identity issue. I look Chinese, but on the inside I feel white. With whom can I identity? Who was my birth mother? Why did she abandon me? I am grateful that you have published your books because they allow me to access the world of Chinese women and learn about the difficulties that they endured. I am not mad at my birth mother for leaving me to be found by someone else. Instead, I am thankful for her for giving me life. I now know that she really did love me. I only wish that her life is improved and that she is happy.
At sixteen years old, I am growing as an individual and creating new experiences. I am grateful for my birth mother and parents. I cherish my life in America and the opportunities that I have. I have always wondered what my life would have been like if I lived in China. Would I be a migrant worker or an indigent farmer, bear the burden of the less fortunate, and have to struggle for education? My Chinese mother must have faced adversity; otherwise, she would not have left me. Although it is heartbreaking that we are separated, I am thankful for the life that I have and for my future.
I go to a public school in Boston, and I am motivated to do well. I now look towards life with a new perspective. I want to take full advantage of what I am given, and be happy and healthy. I am in my fourth year of learning Mandarin at school. Despite its challenge, I feel that it serves as the gateway to my Chinese heritage. In fact, this summer I received a National Security Language Initiative for Youth scholarship to study abroad in Beijing for five and a half weeks. In addition to learning Chinese, I also visited the Dandelion School. The Dandelion School is a middle school for children whose parents are migrant workers. For a weekend, I taught them English and played with them. During that trip, I also volunteered at the New Hope Foster Home. New Hope takes in babies with physical disabilities from government orphanages, and it provides them with surgery so that they can be adopted. Although I did not return to my birth city, my return to China was a great experience, and I definitely want to go back.
Thanks for allowing Chinese adoptees to learn about our Chinese mothers. Our Chinese mothers loved us and always will. My message to them is that they remain in our hearts. Love is full of hope, and the bond that it creates is indestructible.
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The Thing is, I don't Even Remember It
I was three months old. This is the story my mother told me, yet it has had a fundamental influence on nearly every aspect of my life.
I was one of the “Lucky Babies”. I was given a chance at life. Whether it was fate or excellent timing, I don’t need to know. All I do know is that I could have died, or at best, had a limited life. Chinese girls from orphanages who are not adopted often end up working in sweatshops or rice fields-if they even get a chance to grow up. In China my life was uncontrollable. ***A rare moment of luck led me to the United States and to my family who has loved me, but things might not have turned out this way.
Seventeen years ago, Tory, my mother, was given the wrong baby. She had gone to China to come home with the baby from the picture she had chosen. When the women from the orphanage handed her a baby, she knew it was not the right baby. They insisted, sending her back to the hotel. My mother told Lillian, who facilitated the adoptions, that she could not take the wrong baby back to the United States. Tory was so miserable that Lillian went back to the orphanage and talked to the workers.
My mother met with the orphanage workers and returned the infant she had been caring for to them. The workers had six more babies for her to choose from. The workers wanted Tory to be happy with her child. She held the other babies and just as she was about to fall apart, the little baby in her arms smiled. Tory recognized that smile as the one from HER picture. My mother had found me. All the workers thought it was a miracle that Tory could pick me out from the rest. The only problem was that the baby was sick. The workers did not want to send an American woman home with a sick or dying baby. Doctors were consulted and I was finally released to my mom. I was one of the “Lucky Babies”.
With every new experience, I know that I might have died, that I might not have the opportunities I now enjoy. While it is difficult to talk about, this awareness has made me into the person I am today. It shaped has the way I approach every day events, my schoolwork, my fencing, my relationships and my aspirations. I am not an inactive passenger in my own life. I try to embrace what each day brings me, taking charge of my future even when I feel uncertain and fearful. I live with the awareness that I might not have had this life and all that it has brought me. Knowing that I am one of the “Lucky Babies” has made me strong and grateful. Wherever I go, I bring this focus, this strength and this gratitude.