A unique and ordinary life

verbatimI was four months old when I first came to Canada. As a baby I was curious and excited to be part of such a diverse community. By the time I was five years old, I experienced great difficulty with social interactions. My classmates did not understand my multiculturalism or the fact that I was adopted. When people take a look at my family, they realize that we do not look the least bit alike. My parents are Caucasian and I am Chinese. Everyone asks me: “So, what is it like to be adopted?” I have no answer really. I just tell them it’s no different from anyone else’s family. My family doesn’t need to be biologically related to me in order for me to feel loved. They just need to be caring and sympathetic individuals who will support me in my life’s endeavours.

Obviously, there have been times where I wonder what it would have been like if I stayed in China and was never adopted into Canada. However, I realize that I would probably not have much success. I have a neurological disability – autism – better specified as Asperger’s Syndrome. As a result, social interactions and making friends is really challenging. Back in China, there isn’t much opportunity for special needs individuals such as myself. If you fail Grade 2, you will be forced to work in the rice fields for the rest of your life. Thinking about it, that’s definitely not the kind of life I wish to lead. I feel like somehow I was meant to be Canadian, and fate found me this home and a perfect family.

Over the past 20 years in Canada, I have explored various activities such as tae kwon do, dance, singing, guitar, piano and acting lessons. Now I am a writer who has over three years of experience as a journalist. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to La Source. I feel honoured to be able to share my personal experiences as a young orphan who immigrated to Canada at a young age. I want other kids from orphanages to realize that finding a home is possible – it just takes time. Every year I try to raise money for orphans, so that I can give back to needy kids who do not have a family or place to live. I remember when I was nine, I donated $100 to a school in Beijing. The orphans thanked me by sewing me a scarf, which was no bigger than a t-shirt and was a disgusting goldish colour, but truly it was the thought that counted the most.

I used to attend the Chinese Parade downtown every year. It was one of my favourite celebrations as a girl. Even though I don’t go to the festival anymore, I still honour my heritage by hanging lanterns in my apartment, eating Chinese food and exchanging lai see with my family. There are days where I wish I could go back to my home country and figure out who my biological parents are. Yet, I prefer to spend most of my time with the family that I know and with my friends, who I have known since I was a young child. I am still Chinese and I embrace my heritage although I live in a much richer country and I have more opportunities. I have the right to a proper education and a family who loves and adores me.

Just thinking about other orphans in China makes me feel even more grateful for the life that I live today. I wish that all kids from developing countries could be offered the chance to be adopted into Canada. When I have the time and the money, I want to travel back to China and learn more about my Chinese heritage. My main focus right now is enjoying my life in Vancouver. I am lucky and fortunate to live in such a beautiful city. I am a Chinese-Canadian, and that’s something I will forever be proud of.