DoDW – Lucky Girl

Flight CA1503 Pek-Nkg – 2/27/2015

Unlike my last flight, I was not in business/first class, but that’s fine. I’m used to economy class. This short flight was particularly memorable for two reasons:

First, we were flying right at sunset. The city lights turning on below, the sky turning to night above, and right at level with the plane was a vibrant band of orange, pink, and red colors. I wish I could have captured that.

The second reason was the very talkative, friendly man sitting next to me. He was a young programmer on business for one week in Nanjing. After the plane took off, I began writing in this journal. And with every movement of my pen, I could feel a pair of eyes watching me, watching my writing. I tried to shift my arm to hide the contents of my words.

Eventually the man spoke up, “Why are you writing only in English?”

“I’m American,” I replied.

“Oh, but you look Chinese… Are your parents Chinese?” he asked.

“No.” And so began my story of being adopted again. He was quite confused by the concept of study abroad and obviously confused about China’s adoption policies. He asked if I knew or wanted to find my first parents, if I had siblings. The conversation was very intimate in nature and helped me understand almost immediately that I would have to come up with some boundaries to decide when and with whom I wanted to share these personal details. Receiving someone’s stories and memories is an honor, and I believe they should be shared with people who will treat them as a gift.

The man concluded that I was a very lucky girl. I think this was mostly due to my American citizenship and unaccented English speaking ability. I didn’t tell him how unlucky it is to not know your first family, to not know your medical history, to not know who you are and to have to fly 7,000 miles to try to figure it out, to feel like a foreigner wherever you go. Adoption has given me great opportunity, but it has come at great cost.

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