part one / part two / part three
My friend recently learned my Chinese name, Xiaona. I shock them as I tell the story, stuttering a little, trying to dictate the chronological order of events, how my parents chose me, how I struggled. A day or so before, I sit in my bed, send a good morning text and scroll through my feed. It is a terrible habit, but I pause to read a post. November. Adoption month has arrived. I press ‘like’ and move on with the day, but lingering in the back of my mind it hits me again, like it usually does: you know, you’re adopted too.
It has been almost five years since I really spent a significant amount of time to write about my adoption, let alone feel compelled to go in depth about how it shaped my childhood. In that amount of time, a lot has changed. But too, I realize more and more how some of the feelings and effects of being adopted have lingered, manifesting themselves in small ways in my everyday life. Looking back at how things have changed compared to my childhood and adolescence has been a comfort, though, which is a little surprising, shocking even, to write. Perhaps some of the changes have stemmed from a deeper conviction that God is God, being brought to my knees and broken in ways I had never fathomed, but I am a great deal certain that the changes stemmed from prayers over the years for humility and trust and thankfulness…prayers that I would be shaped to become a woman with a heart more tender, more kind, more sure than ever that God is faithful.
I struggle to find the words with how to begin, though I think that is just a characteristic I always have had, a portion of it I think, being influenced highly by the Southern culture, beating around the bush, not wanting to offend – pressure, even, revolving around adoption being perhaps taboo, too sensitive of a topic. But still, like the fifteen, sixteen, seventeen year-old I once was, certain things (like Kung Fu Panda 2) make me cry because it strikes a chord that is so precious to my heart: adoption…the sorrow, the redemption, and grace of it all that makes up my story. The subject that has kept itself silenced throughout many of the introductions and ‘hello’s’ and periods of life. And as was five years ago, I am often met with blinking cursors and a shabby attempt to word it all. It’s one of these times, where you have so much you want to (and could) say – where you’ve spent so much thought; yet in the midst of all this, so many feelings and unanswered questions intertwine themselves; and as a result, instead of characters and words and flowing thoughts, you have unfinished sentences and a blank page staring back in a loud silence.
My adoption is a story of questions, hurt, grace, and redemption. Like all stories, there is a beginning, and I believe, the beginning is the hardest part.
I was born to two people whom I will never know. On some days, I would wonder if my birth parents truly wanted me in the first place. In the autumn, only a few days after I was born, the police found me, left on a bench, in the shadows of Guangdong, a province in China located in the southern part of the country near Maoming and Vietnam. I was found without a name, without a birthdate, without a family, and had nobody to care for me. I was abandoned. I was a nobody. I was left on my own.
To abandon means to leave completely and finally. The word means to forsake utterly and to desert wholly. To cast away and leave. Whenever I would try to grasp the meaning, the weight of it would crush me. As a child, grappling with the fact that this word was associated with me hurt each time. It brought tears, each time. Not because the meaning is something new, or something that I have not known, but because its honesty, associating a personal pronoun with a definition like that, is something that should wreck a person. And sometimes, the ache is more than what words can describe, often leaving you with overwhelmed by the words that you do not have.