My older sister recently had a baby, and it was great to get to follow along with her nine month journey. The most exciting part of the pregnancy for my relatives, however, was the hardest part for me – her sonogram.
You know the scene: family gathered all around in a small room, admiring the images of the new baby on the screen. We of course all waited to hear the news about the gender. Are they having a son or daughter? And when the tech announced, “It’s a girl!” everyone cheered and was overjoyed.
That was a hard moment for me, though, because in all the happiness I had a feeling of dread come over me. My mind went to when my birthmother was pregnant with me. What was her and my birthfather’s reaction to me being a girl?
You see, I was adopted from China as a healthy baby, and so the odds are pretty high that my gender led to me being orphaned. It makes my heart sad to think about how in many parts of the world, a family’s reaction to a daughter is, “Oh no! Not a girl!” — rather than “Oh yay! She is so beautiful.”
It’s odd to know that the words, “It’s a girl” can mean such sorrow to one person, yet such joy to another.
It hit me so strongly that day in the ultrasound room and once again made me wonder what the truth is about my abandonment. Did my birthparents know I was a girl ahead of time, or did they get a “surprise” when I was born? How quickly did they decide I couldn’t stay in the family? My mind becomes cluttered with thoughts of who I am versus who I would have been.
Fifteen years ago in China, female abandonment was still a common occurrence, and thousands of girls just like me ended up in homes overseas. But if I was born in my birth country today, in a more equalized China where many families actually hope for a girl, how different my life would be.
I would have grown up in southern China rather than central Oklahoma.
I would use chopsticks instead of a fork and knife.
I wouldn’t have my current family.
I wouldn’t be writing this, and essentially I wouldn’t even exist in the same way.
There are endless possibilities to my other life that swirl around in my mind, and I find it’s easier to live THIS life than that imaginary one. But of course, I still imagine.
Yes, there are complications and mysteries to the story of my past. I know so little about how I ended up in an orphanage that it really isn’t possible to even call it a story – but more of a messily patched-up sentence or two. I think all adoptees reach a point where they wonder why their original parents left them, but we must come to terms with the fact that we are stronger than abandonment.
One thing’s for certain – no one else’s reaction to “It’s a girl!” will ever define me again. That’s my job – to show the world who I am and what I can accomplish.
~Anna Eldridge, age 15
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