“Where are you from?” is a question I’m asked at every wedding that I photograph.
I think most people mean to ask, “What is your ethnicity?” or simply want to have a conversation starter.
So, hello! I’m Hannah and I was born in China. I was an orphan and adopted, so I don’t know exactly where I’m from.
I was found on a bench in a tiny southern city, which gave the orphanage a pretty good idea of where I was born, but I was left with no name, birthdate, and no biological parents. The orphanage workers gave me a name, but I often wonder if my biological mother had one for me.
A lot of people think I am mixed or that I’m not Chinese (Filipino is one I get often), but DNA testing says I’m 100% Chinese.
I often think about how surreal it is that I’m living in America, have a business, and just recently eloped with the love of my life in the middle of a pandemic – yet my biological parents don’t have a clue. I’ll be honest that it leaves my heart heavy if I let my mind wander and birthdays are always strange for my heart as I wrestle with my identity and the unknowns of my past.
I guess that’s why I have a strong affinity to documenting motherhood and feel most drawn to clients who want their family relationships to be the focus of their wedding day. I love seeing the love between generations and wish I had photographs as a tangible reminder to at least know if I have my father’s nose or look like my mother when she was my age.
I’m trying to find my biological family, but it has not been easy. I get a little sad about it, to be honest. I long to be able to ask questions, primarily “why”, and learn a little about my story.
So – if I had the luxury of time at every wedding to share, the above would be my answer to the question “where are you from?”. But for now I’ll say, hello, I’m Hannah. I am from China but grew up in Georgia and Virginia and I’m a photographer. It’s nice to meet you.