Adoption during China’s One Child Policy

My name is Ruth, and I was born in China, 29 years ago. I was adopted close to my first birthday.  I grew up with a lot of anger from my origin story, curiosity, and what ifs from the hard place that I’ve known my whole life.

      In my mid-twenties, I decided and desired to understand my adoption story from the little information we had been given by the orphanage. I was born during the one child policy and the policy most likely was still heavily enforced in the early nineties. I did not understand what this policy meant or how controlled it was until I watched a documentary on this mandate called The One Child Nation. It was heartbreaking to see and realize that there were mothers who fought to keep their child and did their best to resist the one child policy. I think when people hear about mothers relinquishing their child, they think negatively of them. I know I had negative thoughts of my birth mother until I took the time to understand her situation. I was told I was abandoned at a fire station but one detail that has really given me peace in the unknown was to realize that they found me on November 14, 1994, yet they declared my birthday being on October 20,1994. I believe my birth mother did love me and did not want to willingly leave me. I think due to the policy and the medical help I needed at that moment in time that she chose to do what was best for me and to choose life. Knowing this, my heart breaks for my birth mother but at the same time I see that love does hope and love is powerful. Knowing what may or may not be true doesn’t take away from the loss and grief of adoption and everything that comes with it. I still find myself being angry and love toward my birth mother and maybe even angry at the government for what transpired but also a peace that love does overcome the darkness. My heart still aches for all the mothers and children that suffered through the one child policy.

      I spent about eleven months in an orphanage before I was adopted by an American family. I love my family but there will always be questions of what could have been and loss. I still choose to be aware that I have been given a chance at this thing we call life, a chance to laugh, cry, hope, and love. Adoption is very complex, and the concept is still hard for me to grasp at times. But I believe that I am not a victim of my circumstances and I have permission to grieve all the things, but I also have a choice and the opportunity to live a full life.


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