This article was originally published on Love What Matters and reposted with permission.
It all started with a fire, or at least that’s what I’ve been told from the people around me. The scars on my body remind me of it every day. I don’t really remember much from the accident. I can’t even recall the pain because I was only around 1 year old when it happened. Nobody knows exactly how I was burned but the theory is that there was an accident and my family may have not been able to pay for the bills so they had to make the difficult decision of giving me up to save my life, knowing they may never see me again. This is the theory, and we don’t know for sure.
When I was a baby, I was involved in a horrible accident caused by a fire. On June 28, 2000, an orphanage found a baby on the doorsteps of the facility that was severely in need of help. There was an ad placed in the magazine about me, translated to, “On June 28, 2000, a one-year-old baby boy was found at the main gate of the City Social Welfare Institute. A large part of his body was burned.” The orphanage took me in and treated my burns. From there, I was integrated into the orphanage system and set up with a temporary wonderful foster family. The injuries could have been fatal if nobody had shown up at the right time. I had a weak cry and could barely drink milk or eat. I was lucky.
Luckily, my foster parents were patient because I wasn’t like everyone else. After the burns and all the surgeries I went through, I essentially had no foot and needed a prosthetic leg to assist me further. The orphanage couldn’t afford a prosthetic leg for me so instead they improvised by having me wear thick socks on my leg (which went down to the ankle) and tied the shoe as tight as they could. That’s how I walked. I adapted to it. However, this was just a temporary solution until somebody adopted me.
I never, to this day, let my burns affect me and always find ways around things especially when it came to walking. I never really noticed too much of a difference when I was in the orphanage because I didn’t really have anything to compare it with. I started walking with my injury and that’s how I’ve ever known it to be like. I lived with the family for a couple of years and had “siblings” as well (other kids from the orphanage). I don’t remember much from the family but I do know they took me in and cared for me when no one else did. I was very close to each and every one of my three siblings and miss them a lot. I took care of my two younger siblings and the oldest watched over me.
Eventually, in 2006, a family reached out from halfway across the world saying they’d like to adopt me! Mind you, I had absolutely no idea what adoption even was. After long waits and mass amounts of paperwork, I was soon on my way with this American family that I had never seen before. They didn’t look like me. They didn’t talk like me. Why were they handing me gifts? Why were my foster parents crying? I was very confused and didn’t know what was happening. How could I? I was only 6. I thought my foster parents were my parents and started to cry as I was leaving. I truly couldn’t comprehend what was going on. I just remember being taken away and seeing them cry but not doing anything to help me stay. Before I left, I gave away the new toys that I had just received from my new parents to my “siblings” as a goodbye. Soon I was on a plane and headed to my new home: Seattle, Washington. Little did I know that that plane ride would change my life forever.
It didn’t take long until I got used to my new family and I quickly adapted to their culture. My mother would always try to get me to watch movies in Chinese and I never understood why. The town I lived in had no other Asians so who would I talk to anyways? Once I turned 7, I started to learn English rather quickly and my Mandarin Chinese began to drift away. I had nobody to talk to so I found no purpose in speaking it. I tried to fit in with the family by only speaking English. My mother and father loved me a lot and never kept anything hidden from me when it came to my past. I was a very curious little boy and asked them questions about my past. I obviously knew I was adopted because my mother was half Black and Caucasian, my dad Caucasian.
Sometimes I would wonder about the past and think about why I was adopted: “Did my biological parents not love me anymore?” or “How did I get burned?” I still wonder about this question from time to time, especially this one: “Why me?” I never understood why I was chosen to wake up every morning and would need to put on my prosthetic leg in order to walk. Or why I was left with these massive scars that tell a story I don’t even know about. I always wondered about so many things but eventually, I overcame these difficult questions with a realization that I was given a second chance to live.
Once I was older and able to understand my story better, I realize how lucky I am to be alive and in a loving family. I’m very thankful for the opportunity I have to be able to live in America and be with the family I have now. Do I wish I could meet my biological parents? Of course. I wonder about them quite often and wish I could see their faces. If I could send them a message right now, it would say, “I understand what you had to do and I will always be forever grateful. Without your sacrifice of giving me up, I wouldn’t have been able to meet the family I live with now. I don’t hate you I just miss you. I don’t know you but I miss you guys.”
So what now? I’m currently 20 years old and 2020 just began. I think I’m ready to start searching for my parents. I don’t know what percentage of me being able to actually find them is but I do know it’s 0% if I don’t try and that’s all I need. I’ve already gained so much knowledge and information within the first week of searching, and I’m excited to begin this journey. But even in my search for my biological parents, I will continue to cherish the ones I have.