Everyday I wake up in the morning and think nothing of it. I am Kelly Schiro, the same girl that went to bed the night previously. I have lived in the United States, better yet, Minnesota my whole life. When people ask how long I have known that I was adopted, I have to think. I don’t remember when I was “told” I was adopted, I guess I have always known.
At 9-months-old I didn’t know that I was to be shipped off to the far away land of the United States of America. My life would be forever changed. At that point in time, I didn’t know much of anything. I was a happy and content little baby unless I got too hot. The one way trip from China is a distant memory, I supposedly spent it eating popcorn, in a box, on a plane.
My parents went to adopt me with a group of hopeful parents. The group came back with the five of us, Alia, Ahn, Elizabeth, Audrey, and me. Although we live in separate parts of the U.S. (Alia, Ahn, and Elizabeth on the East Coast and Audrey and I in the Midwest), we like to keep in touch. We have grown up in different environments and we are very different girls, but we share the bond of being adopted.
It is rare, but sometimes I wonder why my birth parents gave me up. My real parents constantly remind me that my birth parents gave me up because they wanted a better life for me, but I have my doubts. In ninth grade math there was a problem directly related to China’s One Child Policy. This really hit home for me. Under the policy a couple could only have one child in an effort to stop the rapid growth of the population. In a culture where the son is placed with the duty of taking care of elderly parents, there is no question of which gender expecting parents would want. Maybe that is the reason why there is a book in my house called “The Lost Daughters of China” rather than the lost children. The number of adopted girls from China significantly out weighs the boys, in fact I don’t think I know one boy adopted from China.
I think that all adopted children go through some sort of questioning. We question why? Why did they give us up? Did they not want us? Of course we hope the answer to this is “no,” but what if somehow we have a chance to talk to them? What would we say? What would we do? If you’re put up for adoption you can sometimes get the information about your birth parents. I will probably never know because the Chinese government withholds that information. If I were given a choice to meet my parents, I probably wouldn’t want to.
Sure some adopted children would love to meet their birth parents, but what if they turned out to be different then what the adoptee imagined? Meeting my birth parents would be wonderful, but it would also make me feel awkward, like walking in someone else’s shoes. Here is this couple that walks into my life after I have grown up with my mom and dad. Am I just supposed to start loving them right away? When I go to China the next time, I won’t be looking for my birth parents.
I have not been back to China, where Alia, Elizabeth, and Audrey have. I suppose I have been postponing this visit because I wanted to learn the language better. This girl from an article went back to China in college. Unfortunately she couldn’t speak the language, but her Swedish friend spoke it fluently. What stuck out to me in this article, was a Chinese market man commenting to her Swedish friend that she looked like she should belong, but didn’t even speak the language. I found it sad that her friend, who wasn’t even Chinese, could speak the language and she couldn’t. From that point on, I knew I didn’t want to be that girl when I went back to China, I wanted to understand and speak the language.
It wasn’t until I reached high school that I began taking Chinese language classes on Saturday mornings with a fellow adoptee, Kylene (Funny fact: Kylene and I are from the same orphanage). The fall semester of my freshman year I decided to take Chinese 1 with Ms. Heng. I was surprised that the language came naturally to me. The pronunciations of characters seemed harder for my Caucasian classmates. I am now a junior and have completed Chinese 1 and 2. In the spring I will return to China with my mom and by that time I will be enrolled in Chinese 3.
Being adopted is unique. What people don’t realize being adopted can sometimes be confusing. I imagine what it would have been like to not be adopted, but I can’t. I love my life and I wouldn’t have asked for a better set of parents.