the new parents
named their first daughter
with love –
A love that in Nanjing
would thrive for two years,
would nurture and care
and produce heartfelt tears
glistening like slices of winter melon.
The parents were desperate:
They never wanted to have to choose.
To love freely was a luxury
stolen from Chinese parents with birth.
Instead, they needed sons,
learning to keep their daughters
only in their hearts
The sadness in their movements
as they came to the city with a daughter,
as they laid their sleeping toddler on the street,
and traveled far.
Learning to obey,
To quiet the demon,
the one child policy.
There are parents
across the ocean,
who raised this daughter with a new name,
who felt overjoyed
to hold a child and call her theirs.
But when they held their Chinese daughter
the parents could see
the confusion and hurt
in her face.
there are many roads,
and families are made in all ways.
The parents loved their daughter.
could lead her like a rope.
And as she grew older
they wanted belonging for her.
The parents kept her roots alive-
roots founded in the harvest dance and dumplings.
I am the daughter.
Raised as an American girl
in a place of cows and corn.
Confused at first,
my parents answered all questions they could.
There are so many unknowns,
So many things I don’t understand,
tapping into my curiosity
and making me uncover a truth.
I’ve discovered that I need China –
a part of my identification,
a jade link
always with me.
Most people have biological ties
and walk in their family’s footprints.
But I leave my own footprints
because I have none to follow in
there is an ocean in between,
the families I call home.
This is a poem I wrote for a creative writing class when I was 17 years old. I had already written much about adoption from my own perspective, but I wanted to try to write from both sets of parents’ perspectives, as well. This poem’s structure is based off of Cathy Song‘s poem, “Lost Sister.”