February 27, 2012

Return To Hangzhou- Maia's Story



很久很久以前,我在杭州成了一个小孤儿。一九九四年,一月二十六日,一位母生下了一个小女孩。不位母没有法照顾这个小宝,因她已有了一个小孩子,而且她的家当也付不起款,所以她只好弃她的第二个孩子。位母亲丢弃宝贝之前写了一封信,放在宝的衣服里,在信里找到宝贝的热心人好好儿照顾她,还有提到了她的生日是几月几号 就在那个时候,小孩子变成了孤儿。她在一个杭州孤儿院住了六个月,直到一对从美国来的夫妻来领养她的时候,就变成了一个美国人。
第一次是2005年,我跟我的家人一起到了北京,杭州,沙,桂林和广州旅游。因那是我第一次回杭州,我只有十一,我不太懂于回到祖国家的意。我去看了看我被遗弃的地方。那是一个在河边的宝塔。我们还去看了我小的时候住的孤儿院。那个孤儿院在杭州市的市郊。我还有幸看到了我生母当时写的信。我看信的时候,不能抓住这片笔记跟我有那么大的意义。 我第一次回杭州的经历没有让我有太多感动,因为那时我太年轻。
人的一辈子也许能有好多个 “家”。 就像我一样,我现在跟爸爸妈妈一起住在Milwaukee; 我以后还会在别的地方上大学和生活。可是我会永远记得我出生的地方 -- 中国杭州。那里是我永远的故乡!

English Version:

Return to Hangzhou

Maia Stack
November 11, 2011

A long time ago in Hangzhou, I became an orphan.  1994, January 26, Hangzhou, China.  A mother gives birth to a baby girl.  But because the mother already has a child, she can’t care for the baby girl.  The fines she would have to pay for raising a second child would be tremendous - much beyond the mother’s meager earnings.  The only option left for her is to abandon her newborn.  Before leaving her, the mother writes a letter, and tucks it away into the baby’s blankets.  The letter implores a kind-hearted person to care for the baby, has a record of her birthday, and gives a 20 yuan gift for the baby’s new caretaker.  The baby becomes an orphan.  She lives in a Hangzhou orphanage for six months.  Meanwhile, in America, a couple decide together to adopt a baby girl from China.  They are given a picture, and with that picture, the baby’s fate is sealed.  She becomes an American citizen.
That baby was me.  Since being adopted, I have lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for 17 years.  Even at the age of 17, I have had the opportunity to return twice to China’s Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang province.  
The first time was in 2005, when my family visited Beijing, Hangzhou, Changsha, Guilin and Guangzhou.  That was my first time back to my hometown, and at the age of eleven,  I didn’t understand the significance of finally returning to my birth city.  We went to the riverside pagoda where I had been abandoned, and took a trip to my orphanage in the city suburbs.  At the orphanage, I had the good fortune to see my birth mother’s note that she had written eleven years prior.  As I looked at the letter, it was hard to fathom that I was connected to it - that my mother wrote it when I was just born,that this letter was me.  I didn’t feel much emotion at all, mostly because I was too young to understand.
My second visit to Hangzhou was in the spring of 2011, when the Beijing No. 80 High School took the International Department to Hangzhou and Shanghai on a school trip.  I once again saw the beautiful West Lake, I once again drank the famous tea of the region, I once again breathed in Hangzhou’s air.  But this time, nothing was the same - everything had changed because I had grown up, and knew more of the world.  Only in my second trip could I truly appreciate the significance of returning to my birth city, and appreciate what deep and priceless opportunities I had growing up in America.  I recognized and connected with the many people I saw in Hangzhou, and could imagine myself as one of them.  It really could have been me selling overpriced fruit to foreigners.  It could have been me giving a tour around the West Lake.  It could have been me in the orphanage, getting ready for my pre-destined life of hard work in factories, sewing the very clothes I bought.  I realize now just how lucky I am to be here today, preparing not for a life of physical toil, but one of infinite possibilities, living in this place I call “home” in Wisconsin.
People can have many “homes” in their lifetimes.  I know I do: I live now with my parents at my home in Milwaukee.  I will have another home when I go to college, and yet another when I get a job and live independently.  But among all these homes, I will always remember my birth home in a special place in my heart - China’s Hangzhou.  That’s my hometown.  

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