Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Not Simply Abandoned (Guest Post)

By Susan Halverson 
(Pseudonym so that we can continue research)
My sixteen-year-old daughter and I traveled to Ningdu, Jiangxi, China in July 2015 and then again in July 2017, with the hope of finding her birth family.

Our public approach to searching has drawn out many birth families. Public searching is the use of social media, flyers and television, in order to bring a lot of attention to an adoptee, so that birth parents may come forward. 

In comparison, some people prefer to search quietly by getting to know foster parents or orphanage officials. In my daughter’s case we had learned from her orphanage analysis, finding ad data, and from other information learned through Research-China.Org, that the finder listed in her adoption paperwork had probably been put by the orphanage in the paperwork. As a result of all this pre-search information, we concluded that the orphanage information was all false (This was shown later to be the case). 

Thus, as a last resort, we decided we wanted to approach her search in a public manner, but in such a way as to locate as many birth families as possible. We believed birth families all deserve to know their children are alive and safe. Together, we have gained many friends and experiences, and a love for the city of Ningdu.

What we learned on our search is that many birth families are desperate for a sign that their children are safe and loved.  They also want their children to know that most were not simply abandoned. Their stories are honest, complex and painful. They don’t expect their children to be returned.  They understand that they were legally adopted overseas. But all have a strong desire to find and connect with their children.

To date, we have not found my daughter’s family. Perhaps they are related to officials, or perhaps they live remotely and we have not reached them, or maybe too much time has passed and they have left Ningdu. We are uncertain where my daughter’s search will take us next, but we feel compelled to share the moving stories told to us. The following are the voices of some of the birth parents we met in Ningdu, and whose DNA has now been submitted for matching.


“We already had your two-year-old sister when we gave birth to twins. We live in a village near Ningdu and we are poor. A woman came and took one of you and a few days returned to take the other. I heard that you were adopted separately. People can see pain in my eyes when they look at me.”

“Your mother and I own a small store in a village near Ningdu. We already had your brother and sister. When you were born, a village neighbor turned us into Family Planning. We later learned that if she didn’t report your birth, she risked having her roof knocked off her house. I keep a journal with all of my children’s births in it, including yours.”

"You came from a very poor family without means to pay a fine for a second child. We met an in-between person who said the orphanage would give us $500 USD for you, and that you would be sent to an American family. The next day we changed our minds. We went to the orphanage to get you back, but we were told that you were already sent to a family in Spain for adoption.”

“A foster mother from the orphanage heard that we had you. She came to our house and said that if we did not give you to her she would take your unregistered brother and sister.” 

“Your mother was very sick and we were poor.  We didn’t have money to pay for the hospital bill and family planning fine.  I took you to the orphanage and left you at the gate.  After I saw someone take you inside, I left.  You have three older sisters.  One we raised publicly, one we hid, and one we sent to live with your aunt. Now we are established in our careers.  We have more time and the luxury to mourn our loss. We miss you. “

“We had your two sisters (ages 2 and 5). We were fortunate enough to pay the fine for your second oldest sister. When you were born we didn’t have the means to pay the family planning fine. We paid an old woman to keep you safe until we could find a way to keep you in our family. The old woman tricked us and sent you to the orphanage. We tried to get you back from the orphanage but they said that you had already been sent overseas for adoption.  We know it wasn’t true because there was no way you were sent away that quickly, but we were powerless.  You now have a younger brother and we all miss you.” 

“Your father and I both have disabilities and we are poor. Someone came and took you to the orphanage because we could not care for you.  Since we lost you, we have lived separately. The pain is too great to know we lost you. You have one older sister who we raised.  She is healthy and received an education. We live in a beautiful village in the countryside.”

“Your aunt worked for the orphanage. She told us that we were not allowed to keep you or we would be fined or worse. We agreed to allow you to be taken to the orphanage, only if you were adopted by a local official. We soon found out that you were sent overseas for adoption. We are devastated that we were deceived and we didn’t get to watch our baby grow up."   

“Your parents had five children. They sent three of sent us to live with our auntie. You have two older sisters and a younger brother living with auntie. Mom and dad are only raising your oldest sister. Auntie is helping us search for you. We know that you were adopted overseas so we post flyers on social media in hopes that you will find us one day”. 

"Mom and dad are well educated but the pressures of having a boy in the old culture was too great. They ended up having six of us before they finally quit having children. Two of us were raised by mom and dad, two of our sisters were raised by local families, and two sisters were sent for overseas adoption. Mom and dad have a lot of guilt. When grandpa saw Americans in town searching for birth families, he told me that I needed to find you.  Mom and dad put their DNA in a local police database as well as sending a sample home with the Americans” (DNAConnect.Org)

"Your dad and I are poor and cannot read or write.  We were told that American’s could offer you a better life and an education.  Like all parents, we wanted what we thought was best for our child at the time.  We were taken advantage of because of our social class.  We miss you and hope you don’t think we abandoned you."

“Your mother and I were twenty-one years old. Our families didn’t approve of our relationship because we had the same surname. During that time in China, having the same surname meant that you are related (even though we know we weren’t). Our forbidden love resulted in your birth. Your mother’s parent said that they were sending you to an auntie’s house to live, but we later learned that you were sent to the orphanage.  My parents and I tried to get you back for a year, before I finally moved on with my life.  I am now married to another woman. You have a half-brother and I have never forgotten you.” 

“Our grandfather took you to the orphanage when mom was recovering from labor. I am pregnant now and shudder as I remember mom’s painful cries when she discovered you missing. American’s told us that they would help us find you. Mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, and myself all went to their hotel to leave a DNA sample.”

“You came back to China and we had a chance to meet you. For some reason after our reunion we lost contact.  Your family paid a baby-broker, that originally sent you to the orphanage to locate us. We have another sister sent overseas for adoption. Someday, I hope all of us siblings can be reunited and not pay for our parent’s mistakes.”

“We live in a very remote village. The officials took you because we didn’t register to have another baby. We don’t have a telephone. We keep to ourselves. We don’t know who turned us in. We only know that you were adopted overseas because of village talk. I am your elder sister. When you were born, our uncle took you to the Nanchang orphanage, where he had connections. Mom and dad agreed to let him take you because he said that they had better conditions and that you would be adopted sooner. Now mom and dad asked me to help them find you. I attend school for accounting in Nanchang and often think of you. I am sorry that our family sent you away.  I miss you little sister.”

“Your mother gave birth to you in the Ganzhou Hospital which is about an hour from Ningdu. You were kidnapped. I search for you but I suddenly stop cold in my tracks. I don’t know if you were trafficked in China or sent to the Ningdu Orphanage as some have suggested.”

“I was having a difficult time feeding you. A neighbor told me about an old woman who could take you to her home to fatten you up. I agreed to send you to the old woman. I was tricked and you were sent to the orphanage.” 

 We would not have been able to accomplished this without the help of DNA Connect.org.


Anonymous said...

These personal accounts are so valuable!

fish48223 said...

It's so sad. We adopted believing in her abandonment. Since then, I've questioned the entire story. Story after story just keeps being revealed. My answer to my daughters is "I have no idea how you were found or if you were found.."

Truly Blessed said...

Like the author of this piece, my daughter was born near Ningdu, Jiangxi. We have found her birth family and have visited them twice.

Their story (my daughter's story) is similar to some of the stories above and involves falsified information in her paperwork, money changing hands, threats by local family planning of destroying her birth family's home if they continued the pregnancy and many years of guilt and sorrow over handing their baby over to CWI officials. Thankfully, my daughter is reunited with them and we keep in touch monthly.

I wonder how many other communities in China are similar to Ningdu.