Lost Daughter


In China

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.

In America,

there are many roads,

and families are made in all ways.


The parents loved their daughter.

Her courageousness,

her curiosity,

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

only because

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.”


4 responses to “Lost Daughter

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