Topic is celebrating National Adoption Day with Alison, our Social Media & Content Manager. We took some time to dive into the details of her life with a short interview.
Read Alison’s adoption story below:
Diving Right In:
Where were you born?
I was born in Wuhu, China. It’s a city in the south east side of China. During 1995, I think it was way smaller than it is today. There was only a train to get to Wuhu at the time so I was adopted in a different city.
When were you adopted?
I was adopted in the summer of 1995.
How old were you?
I was the youngest in my adoption group: 5 months old.
What were the best parts of your childhood?
I loved my grade school classmates. I have fond memories of laughing and playing at recess with them. I liked my car rides home with my mom from school. We’d talk about life and listen to the Beatles. I also loved spending weekends with my grandparents. I learned to love baking and cowboy movies in those days.
Were your parents open to chatting about adoption and their experience?
Oh definitely! They sat me down really young and told me I was adopted. It was a simple story of two people who really tried to have their own kid, but couldn’t. So they adopted! I think I knew subconsciously I was adopted, but they were incredibly honest and answered all my questions. When I hit grade school, they did this cool thing where they came around the start of Chinese News Years and teach my class about Chinese culture and have fun arts and crafts about it. It was super fun, and we all loved it!
The Hard Stuff:
Did you ever go through a phase of feeling confused/emotional that adoption was part of your path?
Yes and no, but not so much being sad I was adopted. My parents did a great job being upfront and honest with me about who’s, what’s, and where’s of my adoption. It’s always made me proud of my parents and grateful for them. But I have had conflicted feelings that part of my identity is that I’m adopted. For example, up until my college years did I really embrace looking Asian. This may sound ridiculous, but when I’d dream about myself or look at myself in a mental mirror, I saw a Caucasian girl. I grew up in a suburban, all-white town and school so that’s just how I saw myself. I was also mostly treated without prejudice so I wasn’t always aware that I looked different than anyone else, until you see pictures and you go “Oh yeah, I’m Asian!
Have you ever thought about “tracking down” your biological family?
Yeah, absolutely! My parents actually asked when I was little if I wanted to go back to China for vacation. I was scared to do it for some unbeknownst reason and we never did. I wish we had, but that’s just how life ended up. I think it would be really hard to track down my family though. Most Chinese families are small, and don’t have many cousins or aunts and uncles. I was also left at a train station for an orphanage to pick me up. To track down parents or a sibling would be hard, but I would like to visit Wuhu for sure!
Do you plan to pay it forward? Adopt your own kids?
Yes, but I want to adopt no matter what. It’s an incredible thing to provide love and safety for a parent-less child. It’s probably my ultimate life goal to adopt!
What have you learned about yourself that you would pass along to others with similar experiences?
Oh this a great question… I think if you’re adopted there’s two things I’ve learned: (1) ask a lot of questions, do research and (2) don’t let adoption definite your whole identity. I lost my mom in 2013 and there’s so many questions I wish I had asked, especially about that time in her life! Ask a lot of questions and record them in some shape or form. Memories and stories are precious. Don’t look back with regret! The second lesson is to not think so hard about being adopted. It’s your origin story, but it’s not your entire story. I’m a firm believer in “things happen for a reason” so live your life! Keep moving forward!