From China to New York: Emily’s Adoption Story

Posted by Gladney Center for Adoption on 11/12/18 8:18 AM

Emily's Adoption Story

When I was eleven months old, my sister and I were adopted from the Jiangxi province of China. My parents were only expecting to adopt one child at that time, and boy, were they surprised when they received pictures of two baby girls. According to my parents, and the packet of papers they received from the orphanage, my sister and I had been found together on the street at one day old, on April 1, 1999. From there, we were brought to the orphanage and soon after, brought into a foster home. Once we arrived in the United States, it was discovered through DNA tests that my sister and I were only three percent related. We had the same birthday, were the same age, and were together since they day we were born, but we weren’t twins like everyone had thought. Nothing else was known about who our birth parents were, where we were born, what time, and how we ended up together.

China Adoption StoryWhen I was young, I embraced both my Chinese and American cultures; however, as I got older, I started to feel torn between both. My family would celebrate Chinese New Year in Chinatown and each year, I also enjoyed doing Chinese dance, spinning red handkerchiefs while wearing elaborate costumes and dancing in front of one thousand people. However, my life took a turn around fourth grade. Chinese language classes were replaced with soccer games and Chinese New Year celebrations became smaller. I also battled sadness and anger, wondering why my birth parents had abandoned me and what my life would’ve been like had I remained in China or been adopted into another family. Then, I went through a period in which I completely rejected my Chinese culture; I wanted so badly to be American and have blond hair and white skin like my Irish parents, as well as everyone else around me. I felt overly self-conscious in public, not wanting to be seen with a white mom and dad. However, it definitely helped that I had my sister and a younger brother who looked like me.

China Adoption StoryMy sister, or my “twin,” which is what I sometimes call her was is my best friend. Growing up, we did pretty much everything together. We took most of the same classes, had the same friends, and played the same sports. I confided in her (and still do) about pretty much everything. She has been there through the ups and downs and I could not be more grateful.

When I transferred schools halfway through ninth grade, my life went through another upheaval. I was given the opportunity to either reinvent myself or accept myself. The move forced me to step out of the box, meet new people, and challenge myself academically. During junior year, I decided to take Humanities, a class in which we debated topics and were forced to voice our opinions. For our final project, we were assigned to make a video about ourselves and were given the option of whether to share it or not. In the video, I talked about my struggles with change and accepting all of who I am. Saying it out loud for the first time, and then choosing to be one of the few that shared the video with the class, led me to accept my past and the fact that I’m Chinese and adopted. This realization has also led me to be more confident in public and open with people I don’t know as well.

At this point in my life, I still go back and forth with how I feel about both my Chinese and American culture. I love where I am and I love the family that I was adopted into. I could not have asked for more loving and supportive parents. They’ve been there for me through the highs and lows and are always trying to do what is best for myself, my sister, and my brother. Their decision to move so we could go to a better school and have more opportunities really shows how much they want us to succeed. However, being Chinese is always going to be part of who I am even though I don’t always feel Chinese because I was raised by white parents and live in a town that is pretty much all white. I have no interest in tracking down my biological parents at the moment, but I do want to go back to China and learn more about the culture at some point in the future because it is an integral part of who I am.

China Adoption Story I hope that in sharing my story, someone else can relate to the feelings I went through, and still do go through as a transracial adoptee. I want other people to know that there are other people out there struggling with similar feelings. However, my past and everything I’ve been through have helped to shape who I am today. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am proud to be a Gladney baby and I am so grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve had and everything I have to look forward to in the future.

~ Emily

  • My life as a Gladney baby...
  • The first time I saw you...
  • Our placement day...
  • We chose Gladney because...
  • Our adoption journey...
  • Our roller coaster ride...
  • Not knowing what to expect...
  • Gladney helped us...
  • The trip home...
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Topics: Adoption Stories, China Adoption