Moving from 2016 to 2017

Well, the last day of 2016 has come. In a way, it’s hard to believe we are ready to start a new year but in another way, it feels about right.

2016 was full of precious memories, much laughter, many hard goodbyes, many tears, much inner struggle, and many lessons. Here are a few big things I learned this year:

  1. God is always faithful and His grace is sufficient to cover everything that happens in my life. One of the hardest things for me this year was that my family moved almost 1500 miles away from some of my closest friends and church family. It was very difficult, but God really showed me that even when everything around me is changing, He never changes. And throughout my first semester of college, I’ve seen His sufficient, sustaining grace strengthening me in the crazy busy weeks and also through the slower, less chaotic weeks.
  2. You never fully appreciate someone/something until they are not in your life anymore. I realized this with the passing of my grandma this Spring. I loved my grandma and talked to her pretty often on the phone. She has always been in my life for as long as I can remember. I never knew life without her. When she passed away, I realized how much she meant to me and to our entire family. I came to realize this also when my family moved but in a slightly different way. My friends and church family are still in my life, but not in the way they used to be. For almost four years, I lived as though life would continue on forever in the same way and did not value enough what I should have valued very highly.
  3. The adoptee community/movement is growing! It’s so exciting to see and participate in discussion within the adoption community, but especially in the adoptee community. When I first started struggling with adoptee stuff, I thought I was alone. But over the last year, I’ve found that I am very much NOT alone. And honestly, it is so comforting to know that there are other people out there going through the same things that I am. I truly admire the other adoptees who are sharing their stories and making a difference in the world and the adoption community.
  4. I’m not very consistent at blogging. Haha, ok, well, this isn’t really a surprise. for me. 😉 When I started this blog, I already kinda knew that I wouldn’t be posting regularly and um, yeah, that’s pretty much what has happened. Two problems I have that factor into me not blogging very often are 1)Sometimes there’s so much in my heart and in my mind, but I just can’t get it into coherent, written word. 2) Time…’nuff said.

 

Here are some of my goals for 2017:

  1. Keep growing. I still have so so much to learn. Yet I don’t want to forget what I have already learned.
  2. Keep connecting with other adoptees. Maybe this is kind of a given, but I think it’s really important to find people who understand your struggles so that you can all help each thrive and grow.
  3. Live in the moment more and not stress about what’s coming down the road. Life is far too short to spend time worrying if this will happen or if this won’t happen. And some of the greatest joys in life, come in the smallest, simplest forms.
  4. Blog more? So, I’m not going to promise regular posting but I’m going to aim for it if I can. 🙂 And I’m always open to suggestions for blog posts if you have any. 🙂

 

I’m thankful for 2016, even though it was a rough year. I learned a lot and I’m grateful for the opportunities to grow. My prayer for you and I for 2017 is that we would both “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 3:18). Let’s keep looking and reaching forward to what is coming in this new year.

 

img_2414

 

Loss and Grief & Hope and Healing

A couple months ago, I mentioned in an Instagram post that I was going to share about grief and loss. It took me awhile to get around to it because there is just so much I have to say about this. I’m going to try to get into it in this post.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Loss: the fact or process of losing something or someone; the state or feeling of grief when deprived of someone or something of value

Griefkeen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death

Hope: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen

Healing: the process of becoming healthy and whole

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Loss of a Loved One

My grandmother (adoptive) passed away in May (I shared about her here). Grieving her passing and learning to live without her has been very hard for me. My grandma was not just my grandma…she was also my friend. She is one of the people that has known me and loved me the longest–over sixteen years of my life. The reality that I’m not going to see her on this earth again sometimes is crushing…I miss her oh so much. But I know that someday, by God’s grace, I will see my Grandma in heaven someday.

 

 

mother's

 

Adoptee Loss

When a person is adopted, there is a loss of biological family (unless sometimes in an open adoption) and in the case of international adoption, there is a loss of culture. This loss is a bit complicated though, for this loss is often the loss of a person(s) who is/are still alive. Example: I grieve for the loss of my birth family but I do not know that they are not alive. They may very well be alive. But I still grieve that they are not in my life. This loss has also been termed ambiguous loss. One definition of ambiguous loss is when a person is physically absent but psychologically present.

Also, I don’t know why my loss occurred. Was it because I was a girl and my parents wanted a son? Were my parents poor? Did they already have several children? Was I taken from my parents by a family member or the police? I don’t know. And this lack of closure is also what makes this loss ambiguous.

 

 

Ambiguous loss is a loss that occurs without closure or understanding. This kind of loss leaves a person searching for answers, and thus complicates and delays the process of grieving, and often results in unresolved grief.

 

This ambiguous loss that many adoptees have is overlooked by many people. They think that because we adoptees now have a family, that’s all that matters. Family is important, yes. But the gaining of my adoptive family meant a loss of my birth family. And that matters too.

What if someone had told me after my grandma’s passing, “Julie, you still have your grandpa. You shouldn’t be sad that your grandma isn’t in your life any more. Be thankful you still have your grandpa”. Wow, that would be really invalidating. Yes, I am so thankful for my dear grandpa. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to miss my grandma.

But you see, so many people do this to adoptees. I think many of them are well intentioned but they don’t understand what they are saying. Comments like “You’re so lucky/blessed to have been adopted” or “You should be so grateful you have a family” or fill in the blank invalidates the pain of losing our birth families. Yes, I am blessed to have a family and I thank God for the gift of being loved. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss my birth family. You can’t replace a person with a different person. Each person in your life fills a special place in your heart that no one else can fill. And for me, that goes for both my both families…they each have their own place in my heart.

 

Disenfranchised Grief

 

If you ever wonder why most adoptees don’t share about their pain over their loss, here’s why. Reverend Keith C. Griffith said, “Adoption is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful”. Adoptees are expected by the majority of people to be thankful. And if an adoptee is anything but thankful, he/she is usually slapped with the “angry adoptee” label.

Think about it. If you were to speak up about your pain only to be called “angry” time and time again, would you keep speaking up?

Well, thankfully, there are adoptees all over the world who keep sharing their stories, the pros and the cons of being adopted, regardless of what people say and call them. And that takes real courage and bravery.

** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **

Hope and Healing

Grieving the loss of someone who was alive but now is in Heaven.

Grieving the loss of people who I’m related to but not sure if they are alive or not.

 

How do I heal when it seems the pain from these losses will never end?

“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
“He [God] heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Jesus feels our pain when we hurt. He reaches out His nail scarred hands to heal our wounds and to soothe our aching hearts. He doesn’t ask us to forget our pain. He doesn’t ask us to stop hurting. But He does desire to heal us. Whether or not we allow Him to is up to us individuals. We won’t heal any other way except through Him.

I love the words to this song by Mark Shultz. You can find a youtube video of it here.

“He Will Carry Me”

I call, You hear me
I’ve lost it all
And it’s more than I can bear
I feel so empty

You’re strong
I’m weary
I’m holdin’ on
But I feel like givin’ in
But still You’re with me

[chorus:]
And even though I’m walkin’ through
The valley of the shadow
I will hold tight to the hand of Him
Whose love will comfort me
And when all hope is gone
And I’ve been wounded in the battle
He is all the strength that I will
Ever need
And He will carry me

I know I’m broken
But You alone
Can mend this heart of mine
You’re always with me

[chorus]

And even though I feel so lonely
Like I’ve never been before
You never said it would be easy
But You said you’d see me through
The storm

[chorus]

Thank you,Mom!.jpg

 

 

My heart aches for all the adoptees out there whose hearts are weighed down with the pain of their loss and with all the questions and unknowns that may never be answered. But I’m hopeful too because my God heals and I know that He can heal these broken, hurting adoptees. My prayer for them and for me is that we would find and the hope and healing that God offers freely to us…the hope and the healing that will help us in our loss and grief.

 

 

Considering Connection

 

When a baby is inside his/her mommy’s womb, he/she learns the way that mommy talks, walks, cries, laughs, sings, etc. He/she becomes very acquainted with who mommy is and how she behaves. And mommy learns much about the little one growing within her. A very special connection is being formed here…one that is unlike any other in the world.

Connection is so important. Think about a basketball team that doesn’t “click” or connect with each other. Think about a corporation whose employees all lack connection with each other. Think about a shower/bathtub that isn’t connected to a water source. Think about a lamp that isn’t connected to the electrical outlet. Well, you get the idea…without connection, we tend to be a bit “lost”.

day four of the trip to.jpg

 

A few weeks ago, I got back in touch with almost all the girls in my travel group. I haven’t been to any of the reunions they have had for many years now, and aside from exchanging Christmas cards (which kinda fell by the wayside in recent years), I pretty much had lost touch with these girls and their families. We go back over sixteen years to when our parents came to get us in China. Actually, for two of the girls and I, it’s probably been longer since that because we were from the same orphanage. I’ll be honest…reconnecting with these girls felt really amazing. Somehow I feel like they are a small part of that unknown past that I have.

(Side note: if you’re an adoptive parent, I’d really encourage you to keep in touch with your child(ren)’s travel group(s)…it may not seem very big now and probably easier to go on with your life without having to keep up with more people than you have to, but in later years, it may mean much more to your child(ren) than you ever could have thought.)

Also, last week, I got in touch with a very distant cousin who is also an adoptee. She is about 5 years younger than me, but once again, that connection felt so good. I really am related to someone. That probably sounds weird, but I’ve lived all my eighteen plus years not knowing someone I’m related to. It’s really exciting for me now to know someone I share DNA with even if it is only 0.14%!

 

These connections feel good…really they do. But in my heart, I’m still searching for that one special connection…that connection with my mom, the woman who held me beneath her heart for months. We had a special bond for 9 months, give or take. But that bond was disrupted when we were separated.

Sometimes, it feels like the bond was broken. But deep in my heart, I really don’t think it was. My China mom still lives on in my heart. We don’t know each other now and maybe we never will. Only God knows that. But I do know one thing…my birth mama and I share a very special connection with each other in our hearts. And this connection is something I will treasure very much for the rest of my life.

 

 

 

Robertson

The Results Are In!!

Well, last night I started writing a blog post about waiting for my DNA results to come in because I was getting antsy. (I did a 23andme DNA test a couple weeks ago and wrote a little about it here.) I was writing and then thought, Oh I should go take a screenshot of what step they’re on in processing my sample so I can include it in this blog post. So I hopped over to 23andme, signed into my account, and read,  Julie, your reports are ready!

I kinda just stared at the screen in disbelief. I had gotten excited last weekend when I saw they were on step 7 of 8 and had read the message, “Julie, your reports will be ready soon!” But when it stayed that way for several days, I kinda gave up and reluctantly resigned myself to the possibility that it really was going to be a longer wait. So, I was quite surprised and excited to read that my reports were ready…already!

But back to last night…

As I sat there staring at the screen, my heart started racing…I knew these results could potentially turn my world inside out. Would I be matched with anyone? What ethnicities ran in my blood? What exactly was I going to find out?

(First, a little bit about 23andme’s services…when they test a saliva sample they analyze the DNA and come up with 35+ carrier status reports, 3 ancestry reports, 5+ wellness reports, and 19+ traits reports.)

Here’s a few things I found out:

  1. It has now been confirmed that I am Asian. 😉 Haha. Not a big surprise, honestly.

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 12.16.06 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 12.16.18 PM
This is my ancestry composition. (I thought the native american part was interesting, although I have had some people say I look native american.) {This was an Ancestry Report}

 

2) I am likely to be lactose intolerant, which is kinda sad since I love dairy stuff. 😰 This really wasn’t too big of a surprise either, since I’ve heard most Asians are intolerant to dairy and dairy products.

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 5.39.26 PM.png
{This was a Wellness Report}

 

3) I am not likely to have photic sneeze….

This one was especially…um…interesting…and uh…relevant??

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 5.40.20 PM

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 5.40.26 PM
{This was a Trait Report}

 

 

4) I had no matches…this disappointed me more than I thought it would. And yet, I wasn’t super surprised because the 23andme DNA registry is comprised mostly of people of European descent. I was hoping for a cousin match with another adoptee though. Oh well.

The exciting thing is that there are other websites to upload the raw DNA data too. One of them is WeGene, a Chinese DNA site. It doesn’t have a database yet, but it evaluated my DNA a bit differently than 23andme. Here are a few results I got from WeGene:

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 7.03.15 PM.png
I thought this was actually pretty cool. 🙂

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 1.05.51 PM.png
This shows where my ancestors came from.

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 7.08.07 PM.png
My Metabolism Strengths (this too shows that I have a weakness in processing lactose)

 

So, what are my thoughts on WeGene? I think it’s very helpful if you or your child is a Chinese adoptee because it is mainly a Chinese DNA testing company rather than geared towards those of European descent, like most DNA companies you will find in the US.

I also uploaded my raw data to GEDmatch. I’m still a bit confused as to interpreting the “matches” chart they brought up, but I don’t think I have any close relatives who have uploaded their results to GEDmatch at this time. But GEDmatch did come up with this admixture for my heritage which I found pretty interesting:

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 12.22.36 PM.png

Before I end this section, can I just give a huge shout out to 23andme for processing my sample in 2 1/2 weeks when I was given a 6-8 week time table?! So awesome. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

What I have learned

1) Through the waiting period, I came to realize how much I wanted to find birth family–people I was related to. Even if it’s just a cousin…that connection would be tremendous for me. But I guess the timing is just not right.

2) DNA tests are pretty informative. I think it can bring some good clarity, especially to adoptees about their background. I was pretty pleased with my experience with 23andme but because I haven’t done any other DNA testing through any other companies, I can’t recommend as the best one.

3) Things don’t always happen as you wish they would. I would love to tell y’all that I found a match with a close family member(s). But I didn’t. That’s reality and I need to embrace it. But that doesn’t mean that I never will find a birth relative. And I’m hanging onto that hope.

 

 

On a lighter note…here is a picture of the delicious frozen yogurt I got at Costco today. Yes, TODAY. Thirteen hours after finding out I’m probably lactose intolerant and I’m eating ice cream. I will not be bound. 😂😂😂

IMG_9167

 

 

 

 

 

**UPDATE** After a few days, I found that I had 57 matches on 23andme. None of them are very close relatives, but I have messaged a few and we’ll see where that takes me! 🙂

 

 

 

June 28, 1999

China O

(The restaurant/hotel where I was found in Xin Hui City, China)

 

On June 28, 1999, I was found. Abandoned. Helpless. Innocent. Alone.

 

And today, seventeen years later, a question comes to mind. It is a question I have asked myself many times before, but today it pushes itself to the forefront of my mind…Why?

Why was I left? Why didn’t my parents keep me? Was it because I was a girl? Or was I just not good enough? Was it because they couldn’t afford to take care of me?

Why? Why?? WHY???

“It was because they loved you so much.” “They wanted the best for you.” “They did the best they knew.” “They couldn’t give you the life they wanted you to have.” “They had no other option.”

I’ve heard all the possible answers from people. I know these possible reasons are given with good intention–the intention to reassure me and other adoptees of our birth parents’ love. And in my heart, I’ve tried to believe them. Partly because I really hope they are true. And partly because I don’t want to think about the possibility of my birth parents not wanting me. But the reality is that I really don’t know if any of those answers are true. Yes, I would love to believe they are. But…I really don’t know. And honestly, they really don’t stop the many questions that roll around my head.

I do not blame my birth parents/family for anything. It’s the lack of closure that frustrates me. Was I really abandoned by my parents? Or was I kidnapped and sold to an orphanage?

I may never know the answers to these countless questions. But I think I really need to accept that and rest in knowing that God knows all the answers and if He wants me to know the answers (or at least some of them), then someday I will.

 

As I think back to June 28, 1999, I don’t remember being left. I don’t remember being found. I don’t remember being taken to the orphanage or the nine months that I lived there. And maybe that’s a blessing.

But here I am, June 28, 2016. I wonder if whoever left me is thinking of me today. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to just leave a little child all alone. I wonder too about my birth parents and wonder if they are missing their little daughter today. Whether they are or are not, their little girl is thinking of them and praying for them, wondering about them and missing them.

Yes, I’m a little sad today. It makes me sad to think that it has been seventeen years, possibly longer, since I have seen my birth mother. But yet I’m quietly hopeful. I’m hopeful because someday, I may get to meet my birth parents/family. Someday, I may get some answers to all the questions that I have now. Someday…maybe. But even if those things never happen, I know that God is enough for me.

IMG_9480

 

Everything to Me by Mark Shultz  (a song written by an adoptee to his birth mother)

I must have felt your tears
When they took me from your arms
I’m sure I must have heard you say goodbye
Lonely and afraid had you made a big mistake
Could an ocean even hold the tears you cried

But you had dreams for me
You wanted the best for me
And you made the only choice you could that night

You gave life to me
A brand new world to see
Like playing baseball in the yard with dad at night
Mom reading Goodnight Moon
And praying in my room
So if you worry if your choice was right
You gave me up but you gave everything to me

And if I saw you on the street
Would you know that it was me
And would your eyes be blue or green like mine
Would we share a warm embrace
Would you know me in your heart
Or would you smile and let me walk on by
Knowing you had dreams for me
You wanted the best for me
And I hope that you’d be proud of who I am

You gave life to me
A chance to find my dreams
And a chance to fall in love
You should have seen her shining face
On our wedding day
Oh is this the dream you had in mind
When you gave me up
You gave everything to me

And when I see you there
Watching from heaven’s gates
Into your arms
I’m gonna run
And when you look in my eyes
You can see my whole life
See who I was
And who I’ve become

You gave life to me
A brand new world to see
Like playing baseball in the yard with dad at night
Mom reading Goodnight Moon
And praying in my room
So if you worry if your choice was right
You gave me up but you gave everything to me

(Everything to Me (youtube video))

 

 

 

 

My Adopted Life

I thought I’d share some of my story here at the beginning of the blog so you might get a better idea of where I’m coming from. 🙂

 

My Adoption Story

I was abandoned in front of a hotel/restaurant type business in 1999. After I was found by a police officer, I was taken to an orphanage where I lived for about 9 months. Then, in 2000, I was adopted from Guang Dong Province through Chinese Children Adoption International (CCAI) by my parents.

 

Struggling as an Adoptee

Being adopted didn’t use to bother me. It was just…well…life. I don’t remember ever not being adopted, so it was just natural…it was just the way things were…something I could not (and still cannot) change.

A couple years ago I started thinking about my birth mom every year on my birthday. I didn’t think about her at any other time during the year…just on my birthday. I would think of her with gratefulness…I was thankful that she chose life for me. After all, without her, I wouldn’t be here.

But my birthday last year was different. And that’s when things changed.

On my birthday last year, I took a little time, as usual, to think about my birth mother and just thank God for her. But…it didn’t stop there. Thinking of “her” carried into the next days and weeks. I started searching “adoptees” on the internet to see what struggles other adoptees were facing…or if there were any other adoptees who were struggling with “stuff”. I don’t remember being “sad”. Just more curious of how other adoptees felt.

Exactly four weeks after my birthday  was Mother’s Day. As I sat on my bed that night, I thought of my birth mother. I wasn’t really sad…just kinda thoughtful.

But the next morning…oh boy, was I a MESS. An emotional train wreck. I had no idea what had happened but I figured it had something to do with all my thinking about my birth mother. I went about my day and the rest of that week, trying my hardest to cover up the pain that was ripping me apart inside. Needless to say, that was one of the roughest weeks I have ever gone through.

Later that week, I opened up some to a lady from church who I had come to really admire and trust. That helped a little bit. But it certainly wasn’t the end of things. I continued to struggle intensely throughout the summer. I was grieving. I had never recognized not having my birth mom in my life as a loss. But now I had and I couldn’t ignore it.

It’s been over a year now since that week of emotional turmoil last spring. The things is…I still struggle. I’m realizing more and more that this is a journey, not a walk; it’s more like navigating an ocean, not a lake. And you know what? That’s ok. These things take time.

 

Has adoption blessed me? Absolutely. I’m thankful that God has given me a family. My brother is my best friend and I don’t know what I would do without him. And I’m so thankful for the many people God has brought into my life over the years. But at the same time, I realize that I also have another family and I have, in a sense, lost them. And processing all that isn’t easy.

 

But There’s More….

This is not the end of my story. There’s more difficulties, joys, sorrows, blessings, and times of growth to come. Part of me holds back in fear. But part of me reaches for the promised “it will get better”. So I run forward in faith, trusting God to carry me through all that the future holds.

And the ending to my story? Well, sometimes I wonder how God could ever make anything beautiful out of the messy, broken pieces of my life. But His promise is that He will make everything beautiful in His time. And so I take Him at His Word.

 

Every struggle in your life has shaped you into the person you are today. Be thankful for the hard times; they can only make you stronger. Take God's hand and step into your future without fear.

 

Welcome to my life…my adopted life.

The Why Behind the Blog

Welcome! I’m so excited you’re here, and I hope you are too! 😀

Since we’re at the outset, I thought I’d share a couple more reasons (other than because my IG posts were getting too long 😂) for this blog.

The Why Behind the Blog

 

1. Because I want other adoptees to know that they are NOT alone.

There are a TON of adoptee blogs and bloggers out there. I know that. I’ve visited too many sites to count, looking to see if there were any other adoptees who were struggling like me. But I also know that there are still adoptees out there who feel that they are alone in their struggles. Do I think that I can reach all them through my little blog here? Absolutely not. But if I can reach one adoptee and help him or her realize that they are not alone in all these adoptee-related issues, struggles, and questions, then to write here on this blog is worth it for me–beyond worth it.

 

2. Because I want others to know that God brings beauty out of brokenness.

This last year has been one of the hardest years of my life. There are many reasons for that, but struggling with adoptee issues was one of the main reasons. And I’ve been broken…so broken. It hurt. God used these things to shake me to my core…to crush my pride and my self-centeredness. Again, it hurt. But He is slowly healing me and restoring that which has been broken. No, my struggles aren’t gone. But I’m different person than I was last year, by God’s grace.

One of the verses that has comforted me so much in this last year (and continues to) has been Psalm 147:3, “He [God] heals the broken hearted, and binds up their wounds.”

Healing is a process. But God makes everything…EVERYTHING…beautiful in His time. He is the Potter and we are the clay. Sometimes He has to smash and break us before He can shape us into the vessel He created us to be.

 

3. Because I want to help other adoptees find their voice as well as give voice to others in the adoption community.

Fear is a very real struggle for most, if not all, adoptees. I hope to write about this at a later time, so I won’t dive into it now. But fear tends to choke all the words that adoptees want to say to their family, friends, neighbors, etc. about their struggles and questions. It’s hard to discuss these difficult, and often, uncomfortable, matters–this is oh so hard for me. If you struggle with sharing about your adoptee struggles, I get it. ❤ I haven’t even begun to talk these things over with my parents. But when I see another adoptee standing up and sharing his/her story (the ugly, painful parts as well as beautiful parts), it helps to give me courage to share my story, not with fear, but with quiet confidence.

I also want to give voice to others in the adoption community. Birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees–we’re all in this TOGETHER.  We can’t let differences of opinions divide us…we need each other…we need to listen to each other…we need to share our experiences, our struggles and our victories….

 

My hope and prayer is that God would use this blog to bring all kinds of folks from all different parts of the adoption community together, that we would all engage in discussing the hard topics, that we would share and grow together, that we would link arms, that we would love each other, and oh so much more!

Well, I’ll end this first post with a few questions…feel free to share–I would LOVE to hear from you! 🙂

 

How did you find out about my blog?

Are you an adoptee, adoptive parent, or birth parent?

How has adoption impacted you?