gallery Dear Adoption, Rawr!


Dear Adoption, Rawr!

I can’t show my face because each time I speak about you, Adoption, someone tries to stop me and talk me out of my feelings. I think they think they’re being encouraging but they are just shutting me down and I’m tired of being shut down.

I feel emboldened when I can speak and show you who I am without actually showing you who I am.

I have never experienced a situation in which I bring up adoption grief and don’t receive push back. In 35 years of trying to get people to hear me I’ve become exhausted.

I’m a very happy, content person. I have had ups and downs just as we all have. There is only one area of my life that I feel is consistently tumultuous, though. It’s you, Adoption. It’s that I’m an adoptee.

6 Years Old
I heard my mom tell a friend that I’d be rotting in a filthy orphanage if they hadn’t adopted me. I asked her what it meant for a person to be rotting. She said I certainly wouldn’t have my barbies or my bike. Is that really what it meant to rot; no barbies or bikes? I guess I should stop thinking about my country, my orphanage and my birth family because I really do like my barbies and my bike.

9 Years Old
I have routinely listened to family and friends say disparaging things about my country for years. They talk about how weird Asian cultures are but how at least we have Chinese food. They are not being intentionally mean or hateful, they are just talking. They don’t realize, though that they’re talking about ME. I’m China. I’m that rotten orphanage. I’m a weird Asian person. I decide to be less Chinese by declaring Chinese food is “so gross” and that “I hear Asian people eat cats and dogs” (something I heard my uncle say). I refused to even eat rice because everyone made it clear that China is weird and gross so they must think that about me too. I better distance myself from rice.

12 Years Old
My friend at school asks what it’s like to be adopted. She wants to know where my real family is? Why didn’t they want me? How much does it cost to buy a person from another country? She didn’t know she was asking all the exact questions I had been wondering too. I’ve asked my mom those questions a few times but she never gives me good enough answers. She just says how God brought me to my real family and I was always supposed to be with them. She says it was never God’s plan for me to grow up in China. I belonged to them. My mom never saw the tears welling up in my eyes or how my whole body started to tremble as she was talking. I decided I needed to forget about the other person or life or whatever was in China. I just kept wondering why God made me Chinese and had me be born in China if it was His plan for me to be in my adoptive family all along? I was confused but committed to not being Chinese and not being adopted. And I was committed to not asking my mom about either for a long time. Maybe forever.

15 Years Old
I climb into the car for the first time as the driver with my crisp Drivers Permit in my purse. My brother says, “Oh great! Another Asian driver on the road!” Everyone laughs. I say I don’t feel well and get in the back seat. I think that maybe if I can change my face I will start driving, so I start experimenting with heavy eyeliner to make my eyes wider. I never got my drivers license because I don’t want to be an Asian driver.

18 Years Old
At college everyone thought I came from a Chinese family. It was so embarrassing. “So your family is all white?”, they’d ask. I would proudly state that I was basically white too and that I didn’t know anything about China. Heck, I didn’t even eat Chinese food. Not in front of other people, anyway.

22 Years Old
I’ve been trying to share my grief over being adopted with my parents and my friends for about 3 years. They all seem so shocked when I bring it up. Don’t I love them? Aren’t I grateful for everything I have? What could they have possibly done wrong? Could I even imagine what my life would have been if they never adopted me? All signs, according to them, point to the fact I would probably be dead. So I decided maybe it was better if I was dead. If I was supposed to be dead then I should probably just die. Maybe my parents interrupted fate. Maybe they interrupted God’s plan which was for me to die. They hate my country = they hate me. They think my country is weird = they think I’m weird. They think I would be dead if I wasn’t adopted = I should just be dead.

23 Years Old
I thought about being dead a lot. I still think about being dead and I have to work very hard to live. Most people see my joy and have no clue about the tug-of-war raging inside me. Still no one will listen. Still I’m told to be grateful. Still my parents become defensive when I bring up my true feelings about China which I hid from them for years.

I’ve thrown my hands up. I can talk until I’m blue in the face and still not be heard. My childhood, while riddled with racial micro-aggressions and zero acknowledgment of any sadness I might feel, was generally great. I’m not an outwardly angry person. I don’t speak with a harsh tone to my parents. I’ve sat and sobbed to my parents and my brother and with our family trying to get them to hear me but they just can’t – or won’t.

But here I can RAWR. When I can hide behind the mask of anonymity I can be bold like a lion. I can tell you I’m hurt, Adoption. Rawr! I can tell you I wish I could just forget about being abandoned and adopted but I just can’t shake it. Rawr! I can tell you I’m devastated that I’ll never know who my mom is and that I’ll never know if she misses me or thinks about me. Rawr! I wish I could say these things out loud and just be listened to. I’m one of the most thankful people on earth but I just want to be able to tell you, Adoption, that this is very hard. Being adopted is very hard and when you bring up that I would have died if it wasn’t for you, it doesn’t help me, it just makes me think I should be dead.

I don’t think I’m supposed to be dead though. I think I’m supposed to RAWR.

I’m hoping I can get up enough courage to rawr and show my face at the same time. One step at a time, Adoption. So for now, Adoption-Parents-Friends-World just hear me RAWR.

This piece was submitted anonymously by a Chinese adoptee currently living in NYC.


  1. Hello,RAWR! I love it that you are learning to ROAAAAR at your fate and to allow yourself to speak about yourself and not as others might want you to do. It is a liberating experience.
    I roared at a superior court judge in 1950 -at age 5- as he dared obliterate my identity with a false one.
    I roared at schools who would not allow meto use my own name.
    I roared, growled and clawed at adoptive parents and their ilk who dared abuse and diminish me; and at the society which allowed me and most all other adoptees no access to our own information.
    I continue to roar at a system called adoption and the society which allows it to perpetuate.
    One day, inch’ Allah (God willing in Arabic) you and I and others will finally be able to PUUUURRRRR instead of having to roar.
    Good luck!


    • Know that your mother does think about you and most probably suffers being separated from you. That is what I have learned: there’s no “clean cut” and no “moving on” for anyone.


      • Sorry TWG, but you are vey naïve! Not all mothers grieve over the separation of their child or children. Nor fathers. What do you say next? That God/Allah/Yehwa, etc. wanted us adopted by the ‘real’ parents? That he wanted us separated from our sibs, our kith and kin? Care to explain just why he would do this to the child who suffers the pain of not knowing who they are? God doesn’t cause children to be separated or to suffer… adults do, aided and abetted by societies which enable ‘adoptions”, Wars, concentration camps, genocide, interment camps, and the list grows on and on and on.


  2. Thank you for sharing. I’m sure that I am not the only one saddened by your experience and pain.

    For the last 2 1/2 years or so I have been the dad to a little girl we adopted from China. We’re an older couple with two grown boys around your age. Lemondrop, my nickname for her, is 4 now, very bright, but as far as she is concerned right now how she came to be with us is how she thinks all children get a Mama and Baba. She has already told us of her plan, when she grows up and gets married, to travel to China too and get her little girl. At some point though she will begin to learn differently and ask questions, I hope that I have satisfying answers.

    We never speak harshly of her homeland, quite the contrary, and we try to incorporate elements of her birth culture into our lives as well, little things, like acknowledging holidays.

    I have never been one to believe that the biological parents of children such as you, or my little girl, abandoned them out of neglect or a lack of a desire, My little girl has a medical condition that would have been expensive to care for there, leaving her where she would certainly be found and get the medical attention she would need was an act of love, and I’m sure the hardest thing the parents ever did.

    From the day we began this adoption journey I have been determined to one day find her biological family, I would like for them to know that she is okay, but I do not want to push them on her, whether she wants a relationship will be up to her, but if she does want to know of them, and has questions, I hope to be able to let her ask those who can answer them.

    When she gets older, and if she has an interest, we hope to one day go back to China on a heritage tour so she can see and experience her homeland.

    FWIW, you’re welcome to come and roar, or purr, around our little place on the net, share some thoughts or whatever. No judgments from us.



    • Kerry,

      As an abandoned adoptee of many, many years, I am compelled to advise you that there are indeed parents who with malice aforethought abandon their children. I and my younger sister were left in a dog pound ca 1948 by our parents. I was abused by them (and by my court-appointed so-called ‘parents’. ) I was ca 2 years old.

      As for Lemondrop or RAWRR, China has laws that enforce ONE child per family. Those found to be in violation of those laws suffer harsh punishment. Recently that law has -or is in the process of being changed.

      But don’t forget, Lemondrop, RAWRR, and others are a product of our own DNA-our parents and ancestors, not of those who were/are court appointed. Lemondrop and RAWRR seek those who resemble them … as all adoptees do. Even if relinquished as infants, both heard the mother’s heartbeat, her breath and her voice as they heard others outside of her body-their father, grandparents, siblings, etc. Just as I and my sister heard the same things from our mother’s womb.

      To be torn from what is genetic and inheritance is injustice.. just like any conscript who is forced to be in a place not of their own choosing. All three of us were involuntarily separated from our roots, our cultures, our kin. No one can replace these things and people.

      The condescending attitude of adoptive ‘parents’ is an irritant to many of us… whether as child or adult, sooner or later we rebel against it. And many of us will do all in our power to retrieve the identity stolen from us … We are very resourceful. And with the science of DNA and so many international organizations made of adoptees in search, we have great chance to succeed. More importantly Lemondrop and RAWR will, inch’Allah, be able to discover their real families.

      I leave you with this sage advice: Don’t try to be more Chinese than the Chinese. (Paraphrased from its original North African Proverb) As the Quran advises: Take a homeless child in but do NOT change its name nor take from it its inheritance.


  3. Thank you. Everything you’ve said I feel. Thank you for sharing. Keep it up. Rawr! Never stop talking and writing. This community needs to hear your voice.


  4. ThNk you RAWR for sharing your heart. Please don’t ever stop sharing… your feelings are real and natural and you deserve to be heard. You are created perfect in God’s image and your pain is real and adoption is painful in the midst of goodness. Thank you for sharing.


  5. Tears hearing about your pain inflicted by many who could or would not see you for who you are and not who they want you to be. So glad that you have come to the place where you can take off the mask and EMBRACE where you come from, where you are now and where you will go. I hear and acknowledge your pain and sadness. Many blessings to you and wishing you much happiness as you go forward in your life. Keep on RAWRING There are many of us who will hear you and understand. Oh, and eat all the rice you want!!


  6. A very wise person once told me that all any of us wants is to be known, heard and understood by the people in our lives. Your people should have given that to you, RAWR. It is the least they could do.

    Thank you for sharing your story with us.


  7. I once honestly believed that adoption might be a good thing. The more I learn about it, however, the more I’m convinced that it is a form of political violence, mostly committed by rich people against poor people. A powerful group enriches itself at the expense of another.

    After all, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child says:

    “Article 8

    1. States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognized by law without unlawful interference.

    2. Where a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the elements of his or her identity, States Parties shall provide appropriate assistance and protection, with a view to re-establishing speedily his or her identity.”

    So, how can adoption even be legal? How can falsified birth certificates be legal. In the end, adoption is an ownership transaction, something that should never be applied to human beings. Why do we, as a society, not choose the more humane alternatives, such as family preservation or, if the parents or extended family are truly incapable of taking care of the child, guardianship ?

    Because it’s about power, and it’s about money.

    Even adoptive parents who truly care about the children (rather than only about themselves) are trapped in a system that’s profoundly insane.


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