Female Chinese Adoptee in America
Hello, I’m Megan, and I am a female Chinese adoptee from southern China. I bounced between an orphanage to a foster home until I was adopted at age three to Italian/Irish/Syrian/Lebanese American parents. I’m now a college student studying English Literature and German Language.
Actually much better for me! I grew up seeing mainly white models and actresses, so I never compared myself to them because I’m…well, not white. Therefore, my self-esteem is pretty high in terms of appearance. Moreover, I only discovered Chinese/Korean/Japanese/Taiwanese dramas in high school—so I really didn’t see a lot of Asian celebrities.
I consider myself American. I have trouble filling out race/ethnicity/nationality questions, though–I never really know what to put if “American” isn’t an option, so I usually check “other.” Many of my friends say I act like a typical white girl, whatever that is?
Now that I’m older, people always ask what my relationship is to my parents. I’m my mother’s “friend” and my father’s “young girlfriend” which is honestly very creepy and uncomfortable for me. I don’t really understand why people make these sort of comments anyway. Distant family members have often mistaken me for my brother’s girlfriend. Kids used to bully me, though it never used to bother me very much and still doesn’t. Never fit in with Asian kids or white kids. To most of my Chinese classmates, I wasn’t Chinese enough and don’t speak it. My white friends made a lot of Asian jokes at my expense. Older generations of Chinese that I’ve come across were actually a bit disappointed that I didn’t speak Chinese and that I’m not connected to Chinese culture.
Dating and Relationships
A lot of creepy pick-up lines. A lot. Also a lot of guys assuming I’m submissive and weak… One guy was very excited by the fact that I’m into BDSM. He was also very disappointed to learn that I’m a sadist. The look on his face was absolutely priceless! He hasn’t contacted me since!
I celebrate most American holidays, in addition to Lunar New Year and “Gocha Day.”
My family is great. My close family of aunts, uncles, first-cousins, and of course my parents and my brother don’t treat me any different. I’m very close with my parents, and very grateful that I was adopted into such a wonderful, loving family.
For a long time, I didn’t consider myself Chinese. Honestly, I still really don’t… I look Chinese (for the most part…) but I feel American. Sometimes, it’s very easy for me to forget what I am, having grown up in a small town where mostly everyone knew my situation. Now that I’m older, everyone assumes that I’m just a typical ______. If they see my name, they’ll be very surprised that I’m Chinese—because my name sounds Irish. People straight-up ask me “what are you.” I was very angry at my birth parents for a long time, as it seemed likely that I was given up because I was either born the wrong gender or born second. Now, I don’t really care. I just know that, outside of my own family and friends, there isn’t really anywhere I fit into because of how I look or act. I see a lot of things online now that accuse white parents of not allowing kids to connect to their “true” culture or whatever, but I have never once felt that China was my “true” culture. Moreover, my parents did try to get me involved in Chinese communities when I was little, and I refused. In fact, I actually told my mother that I wasn’t Chinese, so I didn’t want to go to Chinese school.
I resented my birthparents a lot when I was younger, so I never had any interest in learning Chinese. For different reasons now, I still don’t. I’m learning German, though. I want to learn Korean too!
I’m really happy with my family, but adoption isn’t a magical solution. While I had no problem with my family, I did have a lot of issues with depression and anxiety related to adoption. When I was little, I had a lot of attachment issues; I thought my parents were going to give me away again if I wasn’t good. Right after I was brought to America, my mother told me I would have constant night terrors and wake up screaming, and they were often about being abandoned again. Also, not all foreign adoptees want to learn about their culture or even care about it at all. I mean, I only did because I wanted so badly to fit in with the other Chinese girls at my school.
Things I’d like to see less of
Stop telling me that my parents aren’t my parents. Stop telling me that my birthparents loved me so much that they wanted to give me the best shot by giving me up. That’s utter bullshit—neither you nor I know what my birthparents were thinking. Honestly, I wish there was a different word for it—because they’re not my parents at all. Stop using adoptees as arguments for abortion. Please, just stop that. When you tell us to be glad we weren’t aborted, it surprisingly doesn’t make us suddenly happy. It reminds me of when I was depressed and actually wish that I had been aborted. Also—I hate the movie “Annie.”
Things I’d like to see more of
If you’re writing about an adoptee, know that all of our experiences are different. I was so, so lucky to be adopted by parents who love me—not everyone has that. There is a sense of gratitude I have towards my parents that I will never be able to repay, and even though they don’t ask me to do that, it doesn’t change that fact that I am so thankful towards them. Would also like to see more Chinese adoptees in general. There are a lot of us… After all, most of us are products of the One Child policy. Also, the majority of us are girls.
Tropes/Stereotypes I’m tired of seeing.
Sorry, but the non-blood-related siblings falling in love is still kind of gross to me. I grew up with my brother—just because he isn’t blood-related to me doesn’t make us anything other than siblings.