Reflections of a Former Foster Child
Five years ago, I left China. Earlier this month I got to return. I was privileged to be able to travel with my mom and help on the Cleft Medical Exchange trip with Love Without Boundaries.
While I loved being able to help on that trip and witness the change surgery made in the children, my favorite part of the trip actually happened before and after the medical exchange when we visited some LWB foster families and I got to see MY foster family for the first time in seven years.
I consider myself lucky – not because I was abandoned, or because I had to live in an orphanage for 2 ½ years before I was adopted – but because I had a GOOD foster family for the first ten years of my life. My foster mom took care of me from the time I was just six weeks old until I was ten and had to move to an orphanage for older children. That was one of the hardest times of my life.
My first family taught me so much. I learned from my foster mom how to pick good friends, the importance of school work and to never give up. My foster dad taught me how to pick wild herbs, plant rice and harvest corn.
I have a childhood of happy memories of my time in China because of my foster family. Memories of climbing the mountain near our village with my foster dad; sitting on a bike being “driven” to school by my foster brothers, playing with friends in the village, visiting my foster grandparents, celebrating holidays as a family.
My favorite holiday was Chinese New Year. We would work together to prepare for the celebration. Each of us had a part to make the holiday run smoothly. I helped clean rooms, sweep and mop the floors. On New Year’s Day I got to help set off firecrackers when I got older. We visited with my foster Grandmother and got red envelopes from all our friends, cousins, aunts and uncles. It was a fun time of relaxation and reconnecting.
When we arrived in my former foster village outside of Beijing, all these memories came flooding back, along with memories I had forgotten – like my foster mother going to get fresh milk from the cows in the village and giving it to me. I always felt like she saved the best food and clothing just for me. She made me feel special and she advocated for what I needed.
It was so good to see my family again, to talk about old times and tell them my plans for the future. I was especially happy to see that their life is easier than it was when I left five years ago. They have a car now, they are renovating their home, the village is transforming into a more modern village (by rural Chinese standards). They now have running water inside, a water heater, a flush toilet and wifi! I am glad to see that their hard work has paid off.
The highlight of my visit was probably seeing my foster grandmother again. She is 84 years old, mostly blind from cataracts, but she remembered me! She told me what she always told me: study hard.
Foster families help to give kids the love and care they can’t get in an orphanage. My foster family treated me as if I were their own child. In fact, it was many years before I realized I wasn’t.
I wish I could have stayed longer but I’m so happy I had the chance to visit again. I will never forget my “first” family because they gave me a great start in life. Maybe one day soon I can return for a longer visit.
~David Glass was adopted from China at age twelve and now lives in Virginia with his forever family, including his parents and his eight siblings.