#1 By: Maggie Koerth-Baker, August 8th, 2013 14:15
#2 By: Jonathan Roberts, August 8th, 2013 15:21
There are some interesting comments on the site, one from a woman who was internationally adopted and never told about it. Her adoptive parents died in a car crash without telling her who she was and she only found out when:
One day USCIS did a routine record search and found they lost my adoption decree out of my file. They came to me for a copy, which is when I found out I was adopted--because I couldn't produce the adoption paper, they declared me undocumented and civilly detained me for three years, first in prison, then in a Texas deportation camp, until I located the courthouse where my adoption paper was filed and gave ICE a copy.
Because my parents weren't honest with me, it screwed up my life. I had a scholarship to go to art college at the time ICE detained me--by the time I got out three years later, that scholarship was gone. I wanted to be a police or FBI sketch artist--that was gone too because I spent time in ICE detention as an undocumented and therefore ineligible for any government job. I'm married now, have two kids, my youngest son is autistic--and Social Services just denied his re-certification for medical assistance (in our municipality, I have to apply for medical assistance for him so he can get educational assistance for school) because Homeland Security's eVerify system screwed up (I have a naturalization certificate issued when I left the deportation camp but the system said I didn't. I had to take a day off work and go to immigration to fix it.)
Search for the truth, if you feel you must... But love your family for being your family. They are still there for you and always will be, I'm sure.
Dad was a Korean and Vietnam vet and Mom was a Korean War Bride he brought back after he Korean War. I had a happy childhood. I was spoiled rotten. I got whatever I wanted--music lessons, drawing lessons, dance lessons, all the books I wanted to read. I went to private school wherever we moved, the best education, the best everything. Except the truth--and because I didn't have the truth, it screwed up the rest of my life. so while I love my parents and had a happy childhood I struggled with anger for the first year I was in prison because if they'd told me the truth none of this would have ever happened. I still have mixed emotions about the whole thing, and a lot of questions I will never have answers for.
Most people won't go through anything like this, but it does seem important to know where you come from for a number of reasons - identity, medical history, possible relations, etc. My 3 year old son already knows he's adopted (it's kind of obvious as he's Chinese, but we told him very early so he could understand the adoption process and the constant comments we got from other people and learn to deal with them). We also tracked down and visited the person who found him through the police records, interviewed his carers in the orphanage and saved the newspaper pictures announcing where and when he had been found, so we have as full a history as possible (back to about week 1). We don't want to make the first part of his life a bigger deal than it needs to be, but we figured that we should make the information available to him if he wants to explore his roots.
One of the interesting things we discovered when visiting the person who discovered him was that it's quite possible she knows more than she's telling us. Many Chinese women who 'abandon' their children do so because they feel they don't have a choice, and very few make the decision themselves. There's a high fine if they are caught abandoning a child or giving a child up to the orphanage, but they often send someone to check on the baby in the orphanage, who will also often report back on any adoption. While the orphanage always places an advert in the local paper seeking the birth parents before allowing any child to be adopted, they almost never come forward due to the fine for abandoning the baby. In our case, we found out that the woman who found our son was a student in another province with no family or friends in our city. She decided to take the 12 hour train journey to our city (for a half-day visit) and just happened to be walking around a small park when she saw a baby. She told us that she felt guilty for not taking the baby home (why?), but decided to report it to the police instead as she felt her studies would be affected if she was also looking after a child. I doubt she's the actual mother (he couldn't have been more than about a week old at the time, so she would still have looked pregnant), but she may know who the mother is. We didn't ask any awkward questions, but we still keep in contact and may find out more in the future.
Edit: sorry about the wall of text.
#3 By: chgoliz, August 8th, 2013 19:59
Which means you have almost certainly met a family member. Do not lose that info.
#4 By: chgoliz, August 8th, 2013 20:10
Not necessarily. She's your number one suspect.
The way the one-child policy works is that married couples must get permission to get pregnant. When they get that, they get prenatal care and when the baby is born, a birth certificate, with which they can apply for school, better housing, etc. A woman in labor will not be turned away from a hospital, but without the official permission she will not receive the all-important birth certificate. After the fact, it is possible to pay a fine which will result in getting a birth certificate issued, but the fine is more than the average yearly salary. Some families manage to pull together enough funds to pay it, but most do not. And as you say, there are legal reasons to not be caught abandoning a baby, so a friend or family member usually helps by discreetly watching over the child until he or she is "found", and/or will volunteer at the orphanage. It sounds like this student didn't have anyone to help her because she was so far from home.
#5 By: Jonathan Roberts, August 9th, 2013 04:12
As you say, this is the best lead we have at this point and she may well be the mother. While we will keep in contact and hope to visit again in a few years, we really didn't want to damage the relationship by asking too many questions. If she was the one abandoning the child, she could have a lot to lose from telling us anything more than general details about finding him. Even if she did just find him by chance, many Chinese people felt very awkward that we were looking after one of their children, as if the country is losing face for not being able to care for their own orphans. We personally support and worked with groups trying to increase adoption and foster care among Chinese people, and agree that the move towards restricting overseas adoptions is generally positive. However, we still feel that the system isn't where it should be yet. The situation is actually improving; the children I've seen in orphanages tend to have fairly serious disabilities rather than being healthy unwanted children. There's still a lot of reluctance to adopt disabled children, although I don't think they count toward the one child allowance. This attitude isn't so odd, as couples have a huge amount of pressure to support their families and prepare their children to support them, but severely disabled children provide a very low ROI, economically speaking. There are now programs whereby local families are put in charge of a few children and given accommodation in orphanages though, so the orphanage Jeremy comes from (which is admittedly better equipped than many) is much less like an institution than you might expect. There was a huge crackdown on informal foster homes earlier this year (after a fire in a foster home that killed a number of children and strong public reaction against child trafficking), so at least in theory there is better regulation of approved homes and more support from the government for children in care.
As was discussed in a post a few months ago, the great demand for foreign adoptees in western countries (particularly the USA) has plenty of unintended consequences. There's also the knowledge we have that the birth mother may well have been pressured into abandoning her child by family members or because of a previous child, his medical issues or for some other reason. He was found (or 'found') in a city park during the day, so the mother was willing to risk being caught so that he could get treatment and a better life. It seems likely that in another country or with better support she would have kept him, so one of the biggest goals we had in contacting the finder was to reassure her that Jeremy was safe and happy, that he would get good treatment and that there were no hard feelings against the birth family (or Chinese people in general) for what was an unfortunate point in his life.
#6 By: chgoliz, August 9th, 2013 18:49
Oh, no, ITA: you can't talk openly with her now. But you've got the info, so in 10/20/30 years when Jeremy needs it, you'll have knowledge of where to go looking for her, and hopefully the sociopolitical situation in China will be different then and she'll feel able to speak honestly.
So sad that children seem to get the short end of the stick in almost every political system.
#7 By: Maggie Koerth-Baker, August 13th, 2013 14:15
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