Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Identity and the "Origin Story"

I met this adoptee for the first time when she was about four years old, at an orphanage reunion in Missouri. She and her family attended the next two reunions, and then she vanished from my radar until a year or so ago, when she contacted me for help in putting together a search project in her orphanage area. Her intelligence and self-awareness were impressive. A few months ago she recounted for me in a phone call her search journey, and I was stunned by what she told me. As she recounted what writings of mine she had read through the years, and how my words had hurt her, I could hardly breath. I thought sharing the truth would be helpful, not hurtful to adoptees. I begged her to compose an essay to other adoptees, sharing her experience. She emphasizes that "the following is from my own personal experience. Everyone will have their own." 


When I was younger, I was one of many Asian Americans, and one of a number of Chinese adoptees, in my community. I had a quintessential adoptee childhood: Went to FCC get-togethers, learned Mandarin with other adoptees, even attended Chinese school with other adoptees! I went to adoptee camp in the summers and spent vacations with my adoption group. I was bathed in a sense of belongingness and togetherness, that being adopted was simply natural and that sometimes Asian kids had white parents and sometimes they did not.

I could probably wax poetic for many more paragraphs about my wonderful parents and how they raised me with great pride in my heritage and honor for my birth mother. I could probably say much more, but I am crying and I will simply need to get to my point before I lose all train of thought.

When I was a little girl, I missed my birth mother very much. I missed her more than the entire world. I felt absolutely worthless, wretched, and completely unworthy of being loved. I had night terrors and frequent nightmares of being kidnapped and taken out of the house. And yet, I had decided before the age of preschool that searching for my birth mother and by extension, birth family, was simply impossible and a waste of this proverbial “second chance of life.” In my child brain, I calculated that because China was the most populous country in the world, that I could spend my entire life searching and come up empty -- devastatingly, gut-wrenchingly empty. So I put the prospect of searching out of my mind and shut the lid.

I met other adoptees and we greeted each other in customary adoptee fashion. You began with the year of birth and of adoption, then the orphanage, then the Chinese name, and then the finding spot. The holy finding spot. The finding spot was the mythical place where your birth mom last saw you, last kissed you good-bye and held you close. The magical finding spot was, for better or worse, the most important piece of knowledge you could have because maybe one day, you could go back to China and your birth mother would be there, waiting for you. I remember telling so many kids at daycare so proudly that I was adopted from the orphanage and that I was left at a food market. It did not mark me as pitiable, but rather unique and special. It was often celebrated when two adoptees had the same finding spot because it just had to mean something.

The entire origin story read like a fairy-tale out of Grimm or the Bible. Many people don’t even realize how many orphan heroes there are in fiction, people touched by fate from birth, who somehow rise from their lowly orphan origins to great things. There is such a strong narrative around the orphan -- that we are special, chosen, saved, marked by destiny, and loved above all others. Some of it is related to strong religious narratives like Moses floating down the river, and some of it leans more sappy like a Hallmark movie. In any case, I was surrounded in this cultural stew, and I pictured vividly those last moments of separation, cried over it, mourned it, but never, ever questioned it. I know adoptees who have the GPS coordinates of their finding spots tattooed on their skin. It is so integral to our identities, the way a pearl forms around a piece of sand. Everything, everything, everything revolves around the origin story.

China valued boys.

They didn’t want a girl.

There was a One Child Policy.

My birth mother abandoned me at the finding spot.

They kept another child.

It is so difficult to feel like you are allowed to mourn for the loss of your birth family because of the pressure by society to not appear, look, or even think ungrateful.” An ungrateful adoptee gets abandoned again. An ungrateful adoptee gets attacked online. An ungrateful adoptee is unloved. And so it is very difficult for many adoptees to mourn what they think they know about their origins, let alone mourn the rest.

The first year of undergraduate college was when I came out of the fog. Coming out of the fog sounds peaceful, like one second you are in a trance and the next, you are not. It is anything but. Imagine your skin being peeled from your body and your insides being flipped inside out, then someone puts everything back together again who never saw a human being. I mourned my birth mother like never before. I felt deeply how unfair it was for both of us, because I finally could see her as a woman and not just a myth. She became real to me as a human who was probably terrified that she was pregnant. It occurred to me that I had siblings who may have known I existed and it occurred to me that my birth mom probably remembered me too. It was and still is unbearable to live knowing that she is out there somewhere and cannot know me. I filled journals and wrote poetry about those final moments we had together. I gave her a name I picked out from some Mandarin I was learning. I had always pictured her as Chang’E, the Chinese moon goddess, from a book my parents had read to me as a child, and so I printed out a poster of her and put her in my room. It struck me that she was real, too real, and it made every nerve light on fire.

In 2020, the pandemic hit. I did not get to attend my college graduation and I spent the rest of the spring semester with my parents, attending Zoom classes from my bedroom. My chances of visiting China after graduation, finally, were dashed completely. It was with the vibrating restlessness of being in quarantine that I finally decided to watch One Child Nation. About a year earlier, I learned that my orphanage was connected to human trafficking in China, but it was not until watching the documentary, many times in fact, that it began to sink in. The Hunan Scandal wasn’t special and it wasn’t just a couple of bad orphanages. The stench of baby buying was everywhere. I was suddenly bombarded online with news articles and interviews about the documentary, all about this sudden “truth” of Chinese adoption. I also read the report, Open Secret: Cash and Coercion in China's International Adoption Program,” published years earlier.

We were not abandoned lovingly (and without choice) by our birth mothers, but were simply pawns in a complicated black market fueled by greed. We weren’t the main characters in our own narrative but just merchandise being stolen and bought and sold and moved orphanage to orphanage. There was an unstoppable avalanche of testimony from birth families searching for their children and in reunion: everything from babies/kids being kidnapped by local authorities, to midwives tricking birth moms into giving up their babies to a nice local family (that never existed) to sell them to the orphanage, to hospitals selling babies in batches to orphanages after telling the birth parents the baby was a stillborn.

And if you thought I was finally happy to be told, You were not truly abandoned! You were more than likely kidnapped, trafficked, and sold!”, you would be grossly oversimplifying things. I felt everything at once, but my most immediate feeling was pure anger. Anger over what? you may ask. Anger that I was merchandise in a black market? Anger that my birth mom might be mourning over my empty grave? Anger that I had been lied to and that my parents had been lied to and that the world had been lied to my entire life, about my very life?


I was angry because the world had absolutely no right at all to take away my origin story! I was so incredibly angry that this origin story that I had worshiped and dreamed of, and loved as the very last relic of my birth mom could be thrown out so easily and so swiftly by the world. I was angry that my finding spot, which I had fantasized about, which I shared with all my adopted China Cousins, was meaningless! I was angry that I was expected to simply take in this new, updated, shiny truth and swallow it down before I could even fully wrap my heart around the first story. How DARE the world do this to me? How dare the world think it can make me jump and run and change at a moment’s notice? It was as if my entire identity, which I had held so close to my heart - the orphan abandoned by the fruit stand - was blown over by nothing more than the gentlest of breezes. My friends, with their shiny personal statements of being abandoned by their birth moms, and their artists’ statements of why they painted their finding spot, and me with my piles of poetry — all turned to dust and shit.

There never was a finding spot. They forged these abandonment documents in batches. People had them pre-approved and stamped, all ready to be filled out. Police got paid, orphanages employees got paid, orphanage directors got paid, heritage tour leaders got paid, everyone got a pay day at my expense. My entire heart, laid open and stomped on, because the finding spot was a lie and it never existed in the first place and everyone on that heritage tour was told to stand at the place where it supposedly was and take a photo in front of nothing but dirt and delusion. How dare this be allowed to happen?

But at the very same time, I felt a tremendous sense of relief. My birth mom had not simply abandoned me. A million things could have happened, but whatever the orphanage told me was probably not one of them. I was angry that the origin story was not only a lie, but the very worst lie you could ever tell an adoptee: That their birth mother placed them in a finding spot, and walked away, and never came back.

I struggled with these two competing truths. Despite everything I had learned about baby buying and finding fees and human trafficking in China, I still yearned for those moments of pure movie magic, where I could return to my finding spot and find my birth mother. It was familiar and safe to live in the little world I had built, and that the world had let me build. How could I accept that my most treasured clue to find my birth mother wasn’t even real? That even the town I was supposedly found in probably wasn’t even accurate? I had long ago accepted that my birth date was an estimate at best, that I would never even know my own name. How could the world take this away from me too?

I had clung to this holy origin story the way someone lost at sea might cling to a log. It had helped me survive this far, providing something to hold onto when all I had was a giant blank space of my past. The origin story, no matter how cruel, was thought of and loved, turned over and over in my mind like a polished stone, as if I had actually lived it in a memory. So even when I could finally swim to land, to something true, how could I possibly think of simply letting go of my log?

What story we choose to believe about ourselves in some ways feels like it should belong to us adoptees. It feels like we are owed it to own our own narratives. The weight of all the hurt and pain should be paid in letting us paint whatever story we want to cover up the gaping black void we have in our personal histories. And that’s fair. But every time I want to just fall back asleep and snuggle back into my fairy-tale, every time I want to feel like my feet are on the ground and the sky is the right way up again, I think of the birth parents who are searching for their children.

I think of the stories I’ve heard and the pain that never subsides for them. I think how unfair it is that I can simply sink into delusion while they remember the details of the truth that so few people know. It feels like I am erasing their pain to ease my own, as if I need to deny their existence and experience to bring myself comfort.

And so little by little, I let go. The more I listened and learned about what our birth parents had to go through and the lies that they themselves were told, the more enraged I became that I had ever found comfort in a lie. It was a betrayal of astronomical proportions, and the composite truth of what happened to us all became sharper and more solid. There was simply no going back.

Searching for birth parents brings with it all of these emotions and more. It is the ultimate slap of reality because no matter what we were told or choose to believe, the truth is the Truth. I want to find my birth family more than ever, but that comes with it an understanding that my truth will change again. How can that not be scary? I have a future to live, a career to plan, friends to visit…searching for and possibly succeeding in finding my birth family threatens to derail my life now. Why can’t I just live my life like all the other non-adopted children without having to consider: If I don’t search now, they could die before I find them. If I don’t search now, I might miss some golden point in space and time and miss them forever…

So in writing this, I just wanted people to know that things are very complicated. Learning the truth is a Pandora’s box that threatens to once again make the world invert itself until the earth’s molten core is under our bare feet. How can I lead my life without making some peace with who I am? And how can I be comfortable in who I am if I’m having to change fundamental truths of who I thought I was every decade? When will this roller-coaster end?

And that is just a very, very small snippet of what some adoptees might feel.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Story FM: The Search for Jia Jia (1 of 2 Episodes)

In 2016, we published an essay on behalf of a woman searching for her lost child. The article, "The Story of Baby Liu Jia Jia," was read over 30,000 times. It was eventually seen by Jia Jia's adoptive parents, and Jia Jia and her family was able to reunite with Jia Jia's birth mother. 

The story of Jia Jia's birth mother's search has now been presented inside China by "Story FM," a very popular podcast framed after the style of public radio's "This American Life." With a listenership of over a million people inside China, the search for Jia Jia has touched the hearts of tens of thousands. 

But our interest is in the path the birth mother took: The deceptions and outright scamming that she experienced on her journey. Her experience perfectly encapsulates what birth families experience every day in their search for lost children, and goes a long way to enlightening us on why their skepticism and fear runs so deep. 

Part Two, to be released in the coming weeks, will explain to Chinese listeners our work in reuniting birth families. Although Lan was mentioned only briefly in this first segment, already we are being contacted by birth parents and siblings in the hope that we can also help them search for their lost family members.

I would encourage you to listen to the audio of the story as you read the English translation presented below, for the emotional journey is more powerful than the physical one. (Alternatively Apple Podcasts, E718, April 14, 2023)


Zhang Xiaoya is a mother looking for her child.

In 2012, under the introduction of a friend, Zhang Xiaoya and her husband met, fell in love, and soon became pregnant. However, before she could react to the ignorance and joy of being a new mother, she was forced to lose her child.

From then on, Zhang Xiaoya began the bumpy road to find relatives.

Her story is about how a mother finds her daughter in lies and deceit, and about the deprivation and loss that a woman may face.



I had my baby in 2012 and I was 26 years old. When the child was born, he weighed seven pounds and two ounces, with a chubby face and a round belly, very cute. She was lying in my arms, and I felt very excited and happy.

The doctor asked me, did you eat anything during pregnancy, and the child has a birthmark on his mouth. I took a look and found that the child had a little red birthmark on the nasolabial fold, and the doctor said she also had a little bit on her calf. I didn't pay much attention.

After leaving the delivery room, the child's father was unhappy, as if he had just finished crying, and his eyes were a little red. After returning to the ward, he said, what should I do with this child. I said, what should I do. He said, can't.

I asked him why, and he said there was a birthmark. I said what's wrong with the birthmark, and it's not like she's missing arms or legs. He insisted on that sentence.

Abandoning the child because of the birthmark on the child's face was something that Zhang Xiaoya never thought of and could never accept. But did the husband's family really decide to abandon her only because the child had a birthmark? Things don't seem that simple.

After Zhang Xiaoya and her husband got acquainted, their relationship developed very quickly. In less than half a year, they were already talking about getting married. Just when the two were about to get engaged, Zhang Xiaoya found out that she was pregnant, and he and her husband were very happy.

However, at that time, the man's parents did not seem to welcome the child very much.

One day after the engagement, the child's grandma took me to check whether it was a boy or a girl, and it turned out to be a girl. She was very unhappy, and her face was very ugly.

The child's father was quite happy, saying that girls are also good, and twin girls are even better. His mother said directly, one is enough for that, and two more.

His mother asked her sister, my partner's aunt, to tell me that you should be careful when you go to work. If someone asks you if you are pregnant, you will not admit it. I'm not happy. We are also engaged, why are we sneaking around. But I was young at the time, and I didn't refute what the man's family said, but I was unhappy.

I asked the child's father why he couldn't admit that I would be pregnant in four or five months. He said, in order to have another boy in the future. At that time, there was family planning, so I wanted to hide my first child. The child's father has an older sister. When he was a child, his family put his older sister in the relatives' house in order to keep him.

Although she was very upset, Zhang Xiaoya didn't dwell on this issue because the man's family didn't mention it again, nor did they say they didn't want the child. After that, Zhang Xiaoya worked and lived normally, and did not deliberately conceal the fact that she was pregnant in accordance with the opinions of the man's family. She thought that this incident was just a small episode in her life. But unexpectedly, when the daughter was born, the husband's family was determined to abandon the child.

When I heard the child's father say that the child cannot be had, my mind went blank and I was stunned. I didn't expect him to treat his own child like this. He is usually very kind to me, and he will apologize to me when we quarrel, and he will coax me. His attitude towards children makes me very sad. I wanted to cry, and I also wanted to call my mother's family. He also took my cell phone. I wanted to leave, but he wouldn't let me go. He stayed by the bed all the time, telling me what to do with the child and not having it, and repeatedly telling me about it.

Later, their family may feel that I kept disagreeing, and it is not an option to continue in the hospital, so let's go home. It seemed that we didn't even go through the discharge procedures, so we left in a hurry. I took a car with the child's father, because since the child was born, their family has not allowed me to hold the child or breastfeed the child, so the child's grandma and relatives of their family sat in the back holding the child on the car.

The two of us got home first, and it was both ten and eleven o'clock in the evening. Then I didn't see anyone else coming back, so I asked the child's father why the child hadn't come back yet. He said, the child is at the third aunt's house. His third aunt was very close to his family, so I thought they really went to the third aunt's house, maybe they went to discuss the child's affairs. At about five o'clock the next morning, his parents came back, and after a while, his third aunt came. His third aunt ran to my bed and told me that the child had been sent away. She said they had given the child a way out. I cried, and I said, send it away? Where did it go? The third aunt said that she was sent to a hospital in Xuzhou, and said that the child did not cry on the way. I didn't say anything, after all, she is not my family.

I kept crying there, and my third aunt wiped my tears there.

At that time, what appeared in Zhang Xiaoya's mind was not anger, grievance, or questioning her husband's family's behavior. She just felt very dazed, at a loss and helpless. She couldn't believe that such a thing had happened, and she didn't know how to face it. She told her mother about it, but her attitude made her feel even more isolated.

I called my mother and said that the man's family had sent the child away. My mother said it was impossible. They might be lying to you. Did they give the child to a relative in their hometown to feed them? My mother didn't care much about me either. She is more concerned about Christianity all day long, and doesn't care much about my affairs. She felt that the water splashed by the married daughter would not interfere with my married life too much. Her attitude broke me down. You don't help me when I need my family. I feel like I have no one to lean on, no straws to grasp, nothing. When I woke up in the morning, I felt that everything was fake, as if I was dreaming. On the second day after the child was abandoned, it snowed outside, and it fell quite heavily. I just thought, where is the child, is he freezing outside, how is he eating, and whether he is warmly dressed. I am very afraid that the child will suffer outside.


Entrust Lao Jing

In addition to trance and helplessness, Zhang Xiaoya is also full of worries about her lost daughter, and she really wants to find her back.

But how would she find it? Can anyone help her?

According to the husband's family, the child was abandoned in Xuzhou, which belongs to another province. In a strange city, it is not easy for ordinary people to find children. She thought that she had lost an electric car before, and met several policemen when she was catching thieves. Zhang Xiaoya did not call the police formally, but privately asked one of the policemen named Lao Jing to help find the child.

My partner may be afraid that I will leave, or go to find the child, and he didn't go to work, so he just watched me at home. I couldn't go out, and I couldn't do anything.

At that time, I just had an idea, and quickly asked others to help me find the child. I think Lao Jing is a policeman, maybe a little more powerful than ordinary people, so I want him to go to Xuzhou to help me find it. If the child is taken away, he can continue to look for it. I secretly used my mobile phone to send messages to Lao Jing, not wanting my partner to find out. It seems that Lao Jing replied yes, and let me wait for the news.

Afterwards, I often called him to ask if he had been there and how he was doing. Because his place of work is closer to my natal home, he said that he would talk to me face to face when I returned to my natal home after I was confinement. When the confinement is over, I will go back to my mother's house to find him. He said that he went to inquire, and the people in the hospital said that they saw a woman taking the child away. I asked what kind of person that woman was, and he said she was probably middle-aged. I checked on my mobile phone that the hospital was very close to the train station. I was worried that if the child was taken away by people from other places, it would be very troublesome to find it all over the country.

I asked Lao Jing if he had found out if anyone nearby knew this woman, and where she had gone. Lao Jing said that he had a relative from Xuzhou, and he asked this relative to continue to inquire.

Although she found out that the child was taken away by a middle-aged woman, Zhang Xiaoya was not relieved. She was thinking, who is this woman? Will she treat her daughter well? Where are they now? These unanswered questions pressed tightly on Zhang Xiaoya's heart. However, while her whole heart was still hanging on her abandoned daughter, her mother-in-law couldn't wait for her to have a second child.

After I was confinement, my child's grandmother made me drink traditional Chinese medicine, burned incense and worshiped Buddha at home, made me kowtow and drink incense ash water. I thought at the time that they lost the child, felt guilty, and prayed for the child's safety. After drinking for a period of time, the person who prescribed Chinese medicine for us mysteriously called me into a small room and told me how two people had intercourse and in what way. Only then did I know that they made me drink traditional Chinese medicine and incense ash water, all for the sake of my son. I was a little confused and disgusted. Not long after the child was thrown away, your family asked me to have a child again. I wanted to cry right then.

Zhang Xiaoya didn't want to have a baby, but everyone around her was persuading her, including her mother and friends. Get another one, they say, so you won't be so obsessed with finding your daughter. Looking around, no one understood Zhang Xiaoya's situation and mood. Zhang Xiaoya can only pin her hope of finding the child on Lao Jing, after all, now only Lao Jing helped her find the first clue about the child.

In order to make Lao Jing work harder when looking for someone, she also gave Lao Jing 100,000 yuan one after another. However, when she later asked Lao Jing about the progress of finding someone, Lao Jing seemed to have something hard to say, and the difficulty of finding a child seemed to be far more difficult than imagined.

I called Lao Jing at my mother's house, and Lao Jing said that someone smashed the window of his house at night. When he ran out, the people had already run away, and only two figures were seen. What he meant was that he helped me find it, but people from my husband's family stopped him and frightened him, and there was a reason why he didn't tell me how the search was going, because he was afraid that my husband's family would cause trouble. I thought that Lao Jing knew where the child was, but he just didn't tell me.

Zhang Xiaoya has no way of knowing whether her husband's family obstructed Lao Jing from finding a child. She asked her husband, but he denied it. But what Zhang Xiaoya can be sure of is that her husband's family does not want her to continue looking for a child. They feel that Zhang Xiaoya's finding a child will affect their second child plan. They hope that Zhang Xiaoya can fulfill their expectation of inheriting the family as soon as possible. In desperation, Zhang Xiaoya became pregnant with a second child, and her plan to find her daughter was delayed because of this.

In the spring of 2014, after Zhang Xiaoya gave birth to her second daughter, she decided to focus more on finding a child. The matter of finding the child also ushered in a turning point: Lao Jing really told her who the woman who took the child away was.

Lao Jing said that the woman's hometown is Xuzhou, but her husband passed away, and her house was also demolished. She has only one son, and now she is in Shanghai, so she went to Shanghai to help her son look after the child. He said that the child is in Shanghai, so I definitely want to look for it, but he said that you are not familiar with the place where you were born, and you can't find it there. He said that he has a friend in Shanghai, and he asked his Shanghai friend to help him continue to inquire. I asked him if he could send me a photo of the person who took the baby, and he said no, but he could show me. It seems to be a photo on an information collection system, with a woman's name on it. I just got the name in my head.


Go to Xuzhou

Female, middle-aged, native of Xuzhou, now in Shanghai. These pieces of information are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, and the image of the woman who took the child is gradually becoming clearer. In order to find her daughter faster, Zhang Xiaoya decided not to rely on Lao Jing alone to help her, so she took the clues she got from Lao Jing and found a colleague of Lao Jing, who was also the policeman she knew because of the electric car thief. Old Chen. But what Zhang Xiaoya didn't expect was that Lao Chen made a completely different judgment. He said that his daughter was not taken away by the woman Lao Jing said at all.

I think I can check again through Lao Chen to see if I can find the specific location of the woman, and then I want to find the woman myself. Lao Chen helped me find out that this woman has a husband. It's not like Lao Jing told me that her husband passed away. She seems to have a daughter, not just a son. Lao Chen said that based on his years of experience in handling cases, this matter is not quite logical. But I was convinced at the time, I never doubted that Lao Jing would lie to me. Why is he lying? I'm not letting him work in vain, and I'm willing to give him money. I don't give up, I want to go to this woman to have a look. Lao Chen and I went to this woman's hometown, which is a village in Xuzhou. Her family looked very poor, the yard was empty and grass grew, and there was no one at home.

I confirmed with my neighbors that there is a woman named that name here, and then I found out that this woman has a son and a daughter, and the son's family has two children, a boy and a girl. That girl is about five or six years old, and she doesn't match my child. I'm still a little bit unwilling to give up. I felt that the child was taken away by someone else, but the situation in her family was not exactly what Lao Jing said. I also wonder if people in this woman's hometown don't know that she picked up the child. I also discussed with Lao Chen to find this woman and her son's house. I wanted to see this woman with my own eyes, to see if the baby was there. Old Chen said, have you ever been to the hospital at that time, or should we start from the beginning. I said how to find it from the beginning. This incident has been going on for so long, and there are no witnesses. I was also very anxious, Lao Jing helped me find out that it was taken away by this woman, I was unwilling to give up this clue. He said, you go and try. He told me not to think too much, saying that I hadn't taken this road yet, and I was afraid of wolves and tigers, and blocked my own road.

Encouraged by Lao Chen, Zhang Xiaoya decided to go to the hospital to inquire carefully to see if there would be any new clues. She went to the emergency room first, and then went to the security room to ask for monitoring. After several rounds of inquiries, she did not expect to find a master Liu who had worked in the hospital for many years and said that she was an eyewitness back then.

Master Liu said that he found the child at that time, and he took the child to the emergency room. I thought there was something wrong with the child and was thrown to the hospital, but the doctor checked and said there was nothing wrong with it, except that the nose and lips were a little red. He said they called the police at that time, and when the police arrived, they sent the child to an orphanage. I was very surprised. I knew before that the child was taken away by others, but suddenly there was a big change, and she went to the orphanage. Because I had never heard of this kind of situation before, it was the first time I heard it, and I didn't know much about the orphanage, so I was a little skeptical. I asked him how he remembered it so clearly. He said he was very impressed because there were two or three abandoned babies during that time.


Doubts about Welfare Institutions

 Zhang Xiaoya didn't know what kind of institution the orphanage was. She had heard since she was a child that the child of that family was an abandoned baby, so she thought that most of the abandoned children would be picked up and adopted by passers-by. In addition, Lao Jing kept saying that her daughter was taken away by a woman, even with the woman's name and photo, how could the child go to the orphanage? Could it be that she has been cheated for the past two years? Shocked and puzzled, Zhang Xiaoya went to the orphanage in person.

I went to the orphanage, found an office, and wanted to ask about the situation. There was a man in there, probably in his 30s. I told him that a child was thrown to the hospital at the end of 2012. I went to the hospital to ask, and they said the child was sent to your orphanage. The staff member changed his face, and his attitude was very bad, saying what about the child, we have never seen the child. I was stunned, why is it like this, people said to send them here, but he said so. I wondered if the information given to me by the teacher at the hospital was inaccurate, maybe the orphanage didn't see the child. I went back to the hospital and asked the master about it. I said, is the child really sent to the orphanage? Is it impossible to send it to other places? Master Liu said that when they encountered such a situation, they would call the police. After the police came, they would issue a report, which might be a certificate of abandonment, proving that no one wanted the child, and then sent the child to the orphanage. I found out which police station it was from Master Liu, so I went to the police station. After waiting for a long time, the policeman who was handling the case at that time arrived. The policeman said that when they adjusted the surveillance, they saw that two women and one man had thrown the child. It seems that the police station did not find them, and then issued a bill to send the child to the orphanage.

After getting confirmation from the police, Zhang Xiaoya went to the orphanage again. After learning that Zhang Xiaoya had been to the police station, the staff of the orphanage admitted that they had taken in the child, but their attitude was still very impatient and they were still unwilling to disclose the whereabouts of the child.

This time I was looking for a female person in charge. She had a very bad attitude and said that one of the two children was sick and died shortly after delivery. I know which one you're talking about, the one who probably died was your daughter. I just cried. She said I couldn't bear the death of the child. I said the child is not sick, why do you talk like this. She said they are good people, you don't want children anymore, we took them in. I said, people said they sent it to you, even if the child died, you still have to tell me where the child is now. She said, did you throw the child? I said no. She said, it's not what you throw that you come to find, whoever throws it will come to find it. I said, since they threw the child away, they don't want her anymore. As the mother of the child, if they don't look for her, I can look for her. The woman in charge still said that whoever threw it will come to find it.

Zhang Xiaoya was confused by the flashy rhetoric and strong refusal attitude of the orphanage. From Lao Jing to the hospital to the orphanage, who is telling the truth? Where did the child go? Could it be that the policeman at the police station is lying, and he actually secretly gave the child to one of his relatives? Could it be that the orphanage is lying, and they secretly sold the child? Countless reasonable and unreasonable guesses flashed in Zhang Xiaoya's mind. Later, she went to the hospital, police station, and orphanage many times, but there was no progress. Until one time, she sneaked into the second floor of the orphanage and heard about the whereabouts of the child from a nurse.

I want to go find it myself and see if I can find the baby. I walked along the corridor to the east end, and saw a staircase at the east end, with a lot of baby's laundry and diapers on the handrail. Then I walked up the stairs, and there was no one there. Then I went inside and saw a housekeeper and didn't hear anything from her. I walked in again and saw a glass room with two women in it, who seemed to be nurses. When they saw me, they came out. I asked them about the child, and one of the nurses said that there was such a child at the time, and the child had gone abroad. I was dumbfounded for a moment, I thought she was lying to me. I said, why did the child go abroad? Did he go abroad to see a doctor because of some illness? She said no, the child is going abroad. I asked her which country she said was the United States. I asked her when the child would come back, and she said that she would not come back, and the child could not be found. As for why she couldn't find it, she didn't want to tell me any more. Because she was the first to say this, I wondered if she deliberately made up a lie to make me give up the idea of finding a child. I also thought, how tricky is this? Who is the child given to? Was it sold abroad for human experiments? Why didn't the people in the orphanage admit to having seen it, and didn't say where the child went. When I got home at night, I searched. Some foreigners used Chinese people for human experiments.


Call the Police

From the Xuzhou woman to the orphanage and then to the United States, things seem to be getting more and more complicated. No matter what, Zhang Xiaoya decided to start with the orphanage. Since the orphanage insisted on letting those who abandoned their children come to find them, she decided to drag her husband along to find the children. But at this time, the rift between Zhang Xiaoya and her husband has become deeper and deeper. Zhang Xiaoya originally thought that after she became pregnant with her second child, her husband would stop her from finding a child, but unexpectedly, her husband was still unwilling and made up more and more unbearable lies. For a while, he said that he had visited the child, and gave back 100,000 yuan to the family that adopted the child; for a while, he deliberately wrote a diary on a note, saying that his daughter died on the way to the hospital. He wrote it down and crossed it out, and then hid the note in the cabinet, in a conspicuous place where Zhang Xiaoya would definitely see it. Zhang Xiaoya thought, how can a father be so cruel? In order to keep his wife from looking for a child, he lied that his daughter was dead. When the child was just thrown away, the child's father still pretended to be pitiful, and he still cried, saying that you also left after the child was sent away, so my wife and children were separated.

I'm a bit soft-hearted, at least I think he's still human. I think he will definitely regret it. After he refused to agree to find a child, there was a gap between me and him. I thought, why am I married to such a person, I have no responsibility at all, and I don’t regret or feel sad when my child is lost. What is the difference between such a person and a beast? I had resentment towards him, and I didn't want to see him ignoring him, so I let him go to work in other places. But I encountered many obstacles in the orphanage. They insisted not to tell me where the child went. I was devastated and had no choice but to quarrel with the child's father. I called him and he said that the child was sent abroad, and now I don’t know if he is dead or alive. The orphanage said that whoever threw it will come to find it, and you have to look for it with me. He hung up the phone. I called him many times and finally he shut down. I told their family that if you don't look for children with me, I will call the police. His parents and relatives came. We quarreled. His mother denied the child, saying that I was insane. She said, where did the child come from, who did you have the child with. I am angry. My child is quite pitiful, she was thrown away by her family, and she didn't even have any repentance at all, and even said that I gave birth to the child to someone else. As a mother, she called my child a wild child, and I definitely couldn't accept it. I had never quarreled with her before. When she said that my child was a wild child, all the hatred I had accumulated in the past few years broke out, and I fought with her, tearing each other's hair. My husband and his uncle also helped. Because they were the ones who sent my child away at that time, and I also hated his uncle in my heart, so I picked up a brick on the ground and chased him. Then the brick fell, and his uncle ran to the property office. I saw there was an ashtray in the office, and I picked it up and wanted to hit him. Anyway, I want to fight their family hard.

This is the first time Zhang Xiaoya has expressed her anger and dissatisfaction to her husband's family since her marriage. She reported to the police that the family had abandoned the child, but her mother-in-law and other relatives said it was a family conflict that could be resolved within the family. In the end, the police station did not investigate the abandonment of the children, but asked them to sign and leave. But after such an incident, the husband's family was still unwilling to find a child.

His family still didn't want to look for it, and I couldn't contact him. When I contacted his family, his father said that they severed the father-son relationship and his son was not at home. Then if his family doesn't look for the child with me, I can't find it. I followed him and watched him and his relatives come out of the house, and he looked very happy. I was very anxious, so I followed him and stopped his car. He didn't open the door or open the window, so I sat in the car. I felt like I was going crazy, so I called the police a second time.

In order to find a child, Zhang Xiaoya behaved more and more like a so-called "crazy woman". She quarreled, fought, stopped cars, called the police, and used all the methods she could think of.

This time I called the police, and the police station detained my husband for one night. But the police told Zhang Xiaoya that legally, the determination of the crime of abandonment is more complicated, and it needs serious circumstances to constitute a crime, such as causing serious injuries or death to the victim. The police station said to find the child first, and then they went to the orphanage. After I came back, the police station said that the attitude of the orphanage was very bad, and asked me if I had quarreled with them, and why their attitude was so hostile. The orphanage is still unwilling to disclose the whereabouts of the child, so they keep it a secret, and at most say that the child has gone to the United States.


Find a Private Eye

No matter what Zhang Xiaoya did, even if she called the police, the orphanage would only disclose that the child was sent to the United States, and refused to show the registration information and the announcement of abandonment. The orphanage also required Zhang Xiaoya to prove that she was the child's biological mother. But after Zhang Xiaoya submitted the child's birth certificate to the orphanage, the orphanage still refused to inform the child's whereabouts. Zhang Xiaoya gradually realized that the so-called asking the person who lost the child to find her or providing the child's birth certificate were all excuses for the orphanage to reject her. Because she could no longer bear the attitude of her husband's family, Zhang Xiaoya decided to divorce her second daughter, and resigned to concentrate on looking for children. But where to find it? Is there any other way to break through the orphanage? At this time, someone introduced a private detective to Zhang Xiaoya, and Zhang Xiaoya, who was eager to find a child, spent another 20,000 yuan to hire this detective to help find the child.

At that time, there was no other way, and the orphanage just didn't say anything. The private detective shown on TV is quite capable and can solve the case. I want to see if there is something tricky about the orphanage. I want to see if this private detective can find out. I went to Xuzhou with the private detective. I picked him up by car. He was about 30 years old, black and thin, with a bag on his back, and he spoke with a northeast accent. We first tracked down the woman in charge of the orphanage, and then he said that he was going to squat in the orphanage at night, planning to go there to steal files. I was not at ease, so I drove and followed him. We went out in the middle of the night, and he said that he would steal it when there was no one in the dead of night, and then gave me a signal. As soon as I heard the signal, I started the car and we drove away. He also made a straw hat out of wicker, saying that he would hide it so that people could not see him. Make it mysterious. Later, he ran out with a file, on which was written a few words, saying that a woman had adopted a child, with her name and fingerprints. I only know who this woman is, and there is no information about her on the above, nor does it say where her home is. The private detective did not know how to find out the woman's address, saying that she was from Jinan. Maybe because I have experienced many such things, I thought at the time, don't care what he said, just go and prove it. If you don't confirm this, you may not give up. We then drove to Jinan in the middle of the night.

We drove there around three o'clock in the morning, and it was almost dawn when we arrived in Jinan. After seeing the woman, she was at a loss. I told her not to be afraid, I'll ask you something. I said, my child was abandoned, and when I went looking for it, I found a file that said you adopted the child. The woman said blankly, I have never been to this place, where did I get my name. This woman is in her 40s, divorced, and has a daughter, who is already very old, and they still live in a rented house. In her case, she doesn't meet the conditions for the orphanage to adopt a child at all, so I think this file is fake.



Find a Reporter

Stealing files, going to Jinan, tossing a lot, and finally returning disappointed. And this private detective is at the end of his rope, and there is no new way. Zhang Xiaoya realized that this private detective was a charlatan. Looking back on the journey of finding a child, there were too many deceptions and lies. It was not until later that Zhang Xiaoya realized that Lao Jing, who had been helping her find her child, was also a liar. Although Lao Jing works in the police brigade, he is not a policeman with a formal establishment at all, he is just an auxiliary policeman or a security guard at all. Although Zhang Xiaoya was angry about all this, she had no intention of pursuing it. After all, neither anger nor remorse will help in finding relatives. Zhang Xiaoya thought, the most important thing is to find the child. However, the police also reported it, and the detectives also looked for it. During this time, she even posted on the Internet and contacted reporters, but it was of no use. Is there no other way?

Just when Zhang Xiaoya was in a state of desperation, things ushered in a turning point. She found a reporter in Jiangsu, and the reporter followed Zhang Xiaoya to interview her ex-husband's home, hospital, and police station. Finally, they brought a series of materials to the orphanage.

But this time, I don't know if it's because the reporter's media is in Jiangsu Province, and the attitude of the orphanage has changed. After the reporter and I obtained a series of evidence, we went to the orphanage together. After seeing the woman in charge, her attitude changed, saying that the child was indeed sent to the United States, but the specific information was kept secret. We also found a nurse at the orphanage who used to take care of my daughter. I showed the nurse a picture of my youngest daughter and asked them if they looked alike, and she said they looked alike. She told me that the baby was very good as a child and was sent away when she was about 11 months old. Then the reporter asked the orphanage if they could show us photos of the adoptive family. The orphanage showed the reporter, but not me. The reporter also took photos of my daughter when she was living in the orphanage. After she came out, the reporter showed me the photos. That was the first time I saw a picture of my daughter. In one, she was lying in a baby carriage, eating her hands, and looked like she was two or three months old. There is another one on the information sheet, which states the time when my daughter was picked up, saying that it has been two months since she was picked up, but my daughter was just born. After watching it, I was very excited and cried. I feel that my daughter has grown up a lot. I was relieved a lot when I saw the photos. If I couldn’t even see the photos, I just heard them say that the child went to the United States. I still didn’t believe it, and I was still worried about the child’s safety. The reporter said, seeing me smile that day. I feel like a big rock has been on my heart for a long time, and now some of the rock has finally come down. I feel hopeful for the future. I didn't dare to think about what it would be like in the future, and I didn't know how long I could last. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to survive. I want to write a letter, and when my child comes to see me when she grows up, I want her to read this letter. I just wrote about my child’s situation. I wrote that my mother is very worried about you every day. I don’t know how you are eating and whether you are warm. You have a younger sister now. When I look at my younger sister every day, I think, what are you doing now? Will there be someone who loves and loves you as my own sister like I love my sister? I was afraid that she would not be able to find me, so I wrote the contact information in the letter and handed it over to the orphanage.


Find Daughter

After getting the photo, Zhang Xiaoya finally believed that the child was indeed sent to an orphanage and later adopted by an American family. Her hanging heart finally eased a little. In fact, since the 1980s or so, China has started foreign-related adoption work. In 1992, after China made it clear that foreign citizens could adopt Chinese children, the scope of foreign-related adoptions gradually expanded. As of 2016, nearly 150,000 Chinese children have been adopted by overseas families. A large number of these children, like Zhang Xiaoya's daughter, became abandoned babies due to various complicated reasons. However, many Chinese families who have lost their children, like Zhang Xiaoya, do not know that their children may be sent abroad, so they will experience more ups and downs in the process of finding relatives.

After she was convinced that the child had gone to the United States, Zhang Xiaoya still did not give up the idea of looking for the child. She even wanted to go to the streets of the United States and ask one by one.

I knew that the child was going to the United States, and a big stone in my heart fell halfway. But after all, I didn't see the child, and I was still very worried. I just thought about how to find a child like a needle in a haystack in a sea of people. I tried every means during the day, but at night I still had to go back to my little daughter and sleep with her. Because of the matter of the eldest daughter, I may be afraid of the feeling of loss. I only see my younger daughter every day, and only by her side can I be more at ease. But every morning when I wake up, I still feel like a dream, in a daze, not knowing where I am. Every time I see reports on TV or online that there is child abuse, or the stepfather of the adoptive family molesting the child, I want to cry. I am worried that this will happen to my child, and I think I should find her quickly . If her life is not good, I will definitely try my best to get the child back. I also tried to find a way to post on the Internet, and then a Chinese named Xiaolongnv (Longlan Stuy) from abroad contacted me after seeing my post. She said that she was a volunteer and knew many families who adopted children from abroad, and she had adopted children herself. She said she translated my story into English and sent it to their country.

While waiting for Chinese volunteers to help her find a child, Zhang Xiaoya continued to think of ways in China. She went to foreign-related adoption centers in Beijing and Nanjing successively, but did not find any new news. During this period, many adoptive families found her after reading the stories that Xiaolongnv helped her translate. She saw pictures of many people, but none of them were her daughters. Since her daughter was abandoned in 2012, Zhang Xiaoya has worked hard again and again, experienced one lie after another, and was disappointed again and again.

When the child was abandoned, Zhang Xiaoya didn't even have time to choose a name. It was during the process of finding the child that Zhang Xiaoya chose the name for her daughter. The single character is "Jia", and the nickname is "Jiajia". "Jia" means "good". Zhang Xiaoya hopes that Jiajia will eat well, live well, and everything will be fine.

It seems to be a hidden arrangement. In 2017, when Zhang Xiaoya's youngest daughter went to kindergarten, Zhang Xiaoya finally found out about Jiajia's whereabouts.

The day my younger daughter started kindergarten, I found out that the head teacher who took her had the same name as my older daughter. It seemed to me quite a coincidence that an adoptive family I had known before sent me a photo of the girl that night. In the photo, the girl should be a little over four years old, wearing a red T-shirt standing by the sea, with her head bowed, looking a little shy. When I saw it was my daughter, she looked very similar to me, her father, and my youngest daughter. It feels very strange, as if it was an arrangement of fate. I met a teacher with the same name as my daughter, which had a good omen, and then the child was found that night. Isn’t it a coincidence? I was very surprised, very happy, and also very urgent. Now that I found her, I wanted to see her very much.


After Finding My Daughter

Apart from her looks, Zhang Xiaoya was sure that this was Jiajia because the girl also had the same birthmark on her face. She hoped to get in touch with the girl's American adoptive mother as soon as possible. And this adoptive mother contacted [] after seeing Zhang Xiaoya's story. The adoptive mother had always thought that her daughter was an orphan, and she was surprised when she learned of her life experience.

Xiaolongnu (Longlan Stuy) suggested that Zhang Xiaoya write a letter to her adoptive mother, emphasizing that she would not rob the adoptive mother of the child, so that the adoptive mother might be more willing to establish contact with her. Zhang Xiaoya wrote down Jiajia's life experience, her process of finding Jiajia, and her feelings for Jiajia. After Xiaolongnu forwarded the letter to her adoptive mother, the two finally got in touch.

Contacting the adoptive mother of the adoptive family was not as fast as expected. The adoptive mother also considered a lot, and finally decided to contact me. Because when she went to adopt my daughter, the orphanage said my daughter was an orphan. After she saw my story, she couldn't accept it, and her heart was very complicated. The adoptive mother said the child knew from an early age that she was adopted. When she was first adopted, the child cried every night. Later, the adoptive mother collected photos of the orphanage and put them in a box, so that the child would not see it, for fear that she would be sad.

The child was young at the time, so I didn't dare to ask for too much, for fear that the other party would have scruples. The most I could ask for was a picture of the child. From the photos she sent me, we can also see that she is very kind to children, and the toys she bought for them are also very good. I've also seen pictures of kids learning to swim. The adoptive mother said that the child likes playing tennis and animals very much, and said that her wish when she grows up is to be a veterinarian. Every time I saw the photos, I was very happy and would share them with my family. They said that the child was living a happy life, and the family who adopted her looked very kind. I feel much more at ease now, and feel relieved that I can finally live a normal life in the future. When I first found my child, I really hoped to see her, even if she went to China for two days during the summer or winter vacation, it would be great. I also wondered if the child wanted to video or call me as much as I did. I also tried to ask the adoptive mother, but the adoptive mother did not respond. I was also cautious when talking to her, for fear that she would be unhappy if I said something, and we would no longer be able to contact her. I have learned that the child has gone to the United States, and legally I will never return to her in my life. But I will definitely visit her in the future, even if it is secretly. When she grows up, if we meet for the first time, I want to take her shopping and buy her favorite things. For so many years, the things I want to do for her have never had the opportunity to do for her, just want to do these things for her when I meet for the first time. . . . .


-- As we said in the program, since China opened up foreign-related adoptions, more than 100,000 children have been adopted by overseas families. Among them, the family members of many children, like Zhang Xiaoya, started a long journey to find their relatives after abandoning or losing their children for various reasons; and many children abroad are also eager to find out where they came from. Across the ocean, how do they find each other? What kind of pain, joy and embarrassment will they experience? In the near future, we will broadcast another story about cross-country family search, friends who are interested. We look forward to your listening in the future.