When I was 14 months and 10 days, I was adopted by these people I so call family now in the city of Changsha, in the Hunan Province of China. This is the biggest impact I have ever had in my life. Before this day I had never had a real family and I cannot recall feeling any sadness as I was young, but my mother said I cried the first time she held me in her arms. From that day my ‘family’ moved from Changsha to Shanghai. As I grew up, I asked more and more questions about being adopted and why it had to be me. The overpopulation in China led to a policy of only having a single child. There was also the culture that boys were more valuable than girls. I ended up being born a female. Lastly, there is a lot of poverty. There were 3 options, either I was abandoned by my biological parents seeing that I was a female, or because of this policy with the possibility that I was an accident, or because my parents couldn’t afford to have me even if they wanted to.
I grew up having to think about that from time to time. That my life meant nothing to my biological parents, that whether I had a sibling or not, would my sibling have ever even been told about me or not because this would dishonor the family? I remember the rude stares given by other people when my family and I were together. Many people who I have met who are adopted do not understand the way I feel, they are often adopted in families the same race as them, or have at least one parent the same race, or have a sibling who is also adopted. They do not know what it’s like to be the only different raced person in a family and have to deal with ignorance or racism. Even though a child is adopted into a wealthy family and a healthy family it doesn’t mean that the scars left from being away from their biological family have disappeared.
When I was moving from China to Bangkok and then to Singapore, I started meeting more and more people who were adopted in the same situation as me. Some, because they lived in countries where putting your child for adoption was an option and some because of unfortunate events occurring in their family. Similar to China, Singapore used to have a policy where there is a limit to the number of children you can have. Many taxi drivers have asked me “Where are you from?” I would often respond with “France,” this would shock them because I don’t look French and I would have to explain my adoption story. They would tell me that I was lucky and I am one of not many children that get adopted into a great family with opportunities for me to experience. If I wasn’t adopted into this family I may have ended up in a situation much worse and not even be able to express myself like I am now. If I was adopted in another family I might not have been put into an international school like UWC and later on not have the chance to go to which university I want. If I wasn’t adopted into this family, I might not even be able to speak two languages. I speak English and French which have opened so many doors for where I could go in the future. Being adopted has led me to receive the education I am receiving now.
14 years after my adoption, I have come to realize that I should feel grateful for the way things happened 14 years ago. I couldn’t imagine myself being in another family while my current family would be somewhere else in the world. “ The fact that one was adopted does not solely define that person; however, it’s ramifications weave throughout one’s identity, often impacting relationships and choices and often remaining a piece of identity that is deeply personal and one that is contemplated understood and processed, and re-understood and reprocessed again and again as one ages.” – Tara VanderWoude