Tag Archives: Interview

06 Apr

East meets West: A Story of a Chinese Immigrant


        I am writing this as the voice of my sister who was adopted from China at the age of one year old. In 2008, my parents went to get her from her orphanage in China. She became a U.S. citizen on her first birthday when her plane touched down on U.S. soil in Los Angeles. My parents say that going through immigration was the hardest thing they have ever gone through; they were appalled at the lack of respect for immigrants and the failure to treat immigrants with dignity. Luckily, for my sister, she was already legally under the guardianship of my parents (through Chinese legalities) who are naturalized U.S. citizens and, thus, her citizenship was much easier to obtain than for others.
        My sister was born in the Jiangxi Province and, at one day old, she was abandoned at a street corner. She was found and brought to an orphanage in the city of Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi. Statistically, she likely came from a family who lived in a rural farming community who already had a daughter. Traditionally, families in China want sons, in order to carry on the family name and care for older family members as they age, because girls will marry out of the family and will take care of her husband’s family. While many Chinese have “Westernized” and forgone the traditions, many Chinese in the rural areas still practice this traditional way of life. The practice of the traditional Chinese beliefs is largely the reason why many young girls are abandoned or are victims of infanticide. This is also a side-effect of China’s population control policy, the One-Child Policy. The want of a son for an insurance policy of sorts has led to a modification of the One-Child Policy. This modification allows families living in rural areas and families of minority groups to have two children. For families that have more children than allowed, a fine must be paid. Often, this fine is more money than the family can pay.
        I cannot imagine the dilemma that my sister’s birthmother went through as she was pregnant with my sister. Were her in-laws putting pressure on her to have a boy? Was she trying to suppress the symptoms of her pregnancy, in case the child was a boy, and she had to make a touch decision? Abandonment and giving up a child is illegal in China, thus, requiring a high-level of secrecy about the pregnancy. My sister could have been kept secret for her entire life, as some children are, or aborted or killed. Instead, she was left, with her umbilical cord still attached, near a Chinese orphanage. After a few months without being claimed, she was given a certificate of abandonment to indicate that she was in care of the state for the remainder of her childhood or if she was adopted. Luckily for her, my sister was deemed adoptable and, after a three year long process, my family was given a referral to a child in China. That child was my little sister. I will never forget the day that my grandparents took my brothers and I to the Michigan airport in the dead of winter to see my little sister who, at a year old, resembled a three month old.

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