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Wow, wonderful, isn’t it? China is finally allowing families to have two children instead of one! It is great, and yes, I’m happy for all of the future baby girls who won’t be abandoned in cardboard boxes near the railroad tracks. But I’m hurt and angry more than anything else, because life’s not fair. Which is absolutely ridiculous because I’m a huge proponent of “life’s not fair, you have to deal with what you have and sometimes it’s shitty.”
And what an opportune time for the Two-Child Policy to be enacted in China — with my “birthday” coming up, along with the yearly grieving period (for the past 20 years) that comes with my birthday. Why was birthday in quotes? I was found when I was about two weeks old, while many young Chinese orphans were found at a couple of days old. Doctors can determine the infant’s age based on their umbilical cord; however, when a baby is two weeks old, who knows when its exact birth date is? It could be a day off, it could be six days off.
Not knowing when my real birthday was never really broke my heart, because I got presents and attention, regardless. What did break my heart, was that every single year I would get temperamental and throw fits; waves of anger would just wash over me. It was a painful three to five weeks leading up to my birthday, both for myself and for anyone that had to interact with me.Now I understand that I was grieving in the same way someone who lost a loved one grieves around the anniversary of the event every year. Except my grief is not the death of a loved one, it is the absence of a loved one — the absence of the mother who carried me in her womb for nine months. The absence of a mother who kept me for the first two weeks of my life, and suddenly decided that she could not keep me, and left me alone. I am grieving for a biological maternal bond, I am grieving for my grandparents and lost genetics, I am grieving for the roots of my personality and intellect. I am grieving for the life I never had.
I’ve been talking to my therapist about all of this; she has helped me sort out a lot of my jumbled emotions, emotions that seemed to never connect or have any sort of reason. Last week, she told me something about life’s unfairness:
“Lily, there are two types of unfair in life: the first is completely random and all people are powerless to these events — a child is born with a disease that won’t allow him to live to his first birthday; someone happens to take the last slice of your favorite cake from the bakery.
The second type is a power play: something unfortunate happens to people because other people need to stay in power. The thing about this one is that it is accepted as if the victims are powerless, but the question can be asked, are the victims truly powerless? It is not the fate of the universe, it is another person or organization who wants to be in control of others. This is your unfair, this is your birthmother’s unfair — the decision was made for you by your mother, and your mother’s decision was made for her by the Chinese government. Your life was decided by a power-play.”
Maybe I always understood that, but could never quite put it into words, or maybe I never realized that was the reason I wanted to go into Social Relations and Policy as a major. It doesn’t matter though, because now I understand that it’s okay to feel what I feel.
It’s okay to grieve around the time I would have been born and left. It’s okay that there is no solution for me right now. Maybe one day I’ll meet my mother, but maybe not. There are a lot of maybes and a lot of what-ifs that have been taking over my life, but that’s alright too.
There’s no changing the fact that China had a One-Child Policy in place when I was born, but there IS changing how the adoption community is viewed by the rest of the world. We’re growing up — the Chinese adoptees who were adopted in the early nineties are adults now — we’re going out into the real world as productive members of society and we’re bringing our histories and stories with us. Watch out, world, because here comes a storm…