Originally this post was going to be about family. After much consideration I decided to break it up into two parts. Here goes nothing.
In the “small” (population 1 million) town of Fuzhou, Jiangxi China a baby was born. A month later she was dropped off at an orphanage with a piece of paper that only stated her birthday. The orphanage named her Li Fu. Or if you’re going by surname first- Fu Li. In English it has several translations but “Rich and Beautiful” stood out the most…so we’ll go with that. The orphanage was going through a mini epidemic where the babies were getting sick so they shuffled the babies out to different foster families in the town. Li spent the next year and a half with foster parents and two foster brothers. She seemed like a very happy baby.
In February of 1994 a strange family came to China and took her to her new home in the United States of America. She was scared on that airplane and didn’t let anyone sleep for the 18 hour flight home. (Please don’t bring babies on flights with you!). She thought the woman was okay but was severely disturbed by the man’s facial hair. Overtime she forgot that she was in a foreign country and quickly learned to adapt to her new life. Growing up was fun for Li. She had lots of friends and was generally very happy. It wasn’t until she turned six she noticed something was a little different between her family and some other families. She didn’t look like her family on the outside. Naturally as a curious child she asked her mom “Where do babies come from? Did I come from your tummy?” Her mother probably wasn’t ready for this question but told her the truth about coming from another family. Li was satisfied enough for now.
Being different and being adopted didn’t seem like a big deal. It was only a big deal when other kids pointed out that she looked different than the rest of her family. By answering that she was adopted resulted in “why?” That wasn’t a question that she knew how to answer. When she turned 10 she asked her mother a harder question. “Why was I adopted?” Her mother gave her another truthful answer but toned down version of what was going on in China at the time.
Let’s switch narrative gears.
If you’re not familiar with China’s population control policies let me give you a brief history lesson. It started with Mao Zedong’s crazy reign and belief that population growth would secure China’s power. The Chinese population grew by 400 million people in a span of 25 years or so. By 1970 the government asked families to start having children later in life to slow down the population growth. Despite the population rate slowing, it wasn’t enough and the government adopted the one child policy in 1980. Along with a one child policy the government set strict rules on what age a person could marry and what age they were allowed to have children.
There were some exceptions to the rule that if a family gave birth to a girl they were allowed to have a second child in hopes for a son. Sons would make money and take care of the families when they got older. If you violated the ruling then that family would be subjected to a fee based on income levels. After a family had their first child a lot of women were forced to use an IUD and then their tubes were to be tied after having their second child. In many cases babies were forcibly aborted, some were thrown into rivers or left in boxes to die. Most of these were girls.
By the late 80’s and early 90’s the government were seeing some high mortality rates amongst births. It put pressure on the government to find a solution to the problem and they opened up the opportunity for the babies to be adopted abroad. The United States was a primary customer so to speak until recently when the government found adoption trends slowing down. The one child policy was repealed and now families are allowed to have up to two children as a result of a disproportional male to female ratio.
This was the country that I was born into.
I’ve been asked countless times if I want to go back to China and find my real birth parents. My answer is no. My REAL parents are the ones who brought me to the United States. They are the ones who fed me, raised me, and provided for me. The only connection I might want to explore from China would be to find my foster family. Growing up my two families kept in touch for a few years. We would exchange letters back and forth. Some of them came with photos with me and my two foster brothers. I hope I can find them again someday. My biological parents might be dead for all I know. I don’t know if they left me because they needed a son instead or with the intention that I would hopefully have a better life.
I think being adopted gave me a unique perspective on life. I grew up in a multi-racial household. In fact it’s hard for me to understand the concept of “race” because growing up I was surrounded with people who looked different than me. That is not meant to be offensive. I am the true experiment of nature vs nurture. I think nurture wins. I think it has given me a natural curiosity to explore things that are different than me. I don’t want to come off as self-righteous. I took a class in college that pointed out generally the term “adoption” is met with a melancholy connotation. I want to show that being adopted isn’t a sad thing. Being adopted is one of the best things that could have happened to me. I used to think by being a girl it meant the bitter end of the lollipop. Because of my gender I was given the chance for a better life and bigger opportunities.