This essay, unedited, is shared with permission from a teenage girl who was adopted as an older child through Agape Adoptions. Her memories and thoughts are shared with candor and courage. This brave young lady shows us why it is critical that adoptive parents discipline their children from a place of love, safety, and compassion, rather than through inflicting pain or withholding basic needs. It can be difficult for parents to truly absorb the experiences their children have endured, and to acknowledge that their child will likely always carry a piece of that pain with them in their journey. But when adoptive parents listen and learn with an open mind, they can be better equipped to partner in their children’s healing and avoid the mistakes that perpetuate the state of fear that many children suffered before joining their adoptive families.
I lived in an orphanage for almost 10 years. Before I got adopted, I lived with 100 different kids in the orphanage. I went to school and everything but, I don’t really listen to the teachers. I snuck out of the class a lot because I got bored and because they didn’t even care. I didn’t like my orphanage because the grownups hit the kids and they make them starve when they do something wrong. Everyone in my orphanage wants a family because it was horrible to live there. I hate living there because they are so mean. They made me starve and they hit me because I fell and got my clothes dirty. It’s not my fault that I fall a lot, it’s because I have one paralyzed leg.
The only best part about the orphanage was that you get at least ten visitors a year. When the visitors come to the orphanage, the adults in the orphanage were nice to you and that only lasts until the visitors are gone. Unlike the elementary teachers, the preschool teachers actually care, but they still hit the kids; when they do something wrong. I rather be in school the rest of my life than living in the orphanage, because the teachers don’t hit kids. I like to wander around the school. The first part of school ends at 11:45am, and then we go home and have lunch and a little free time. Then we have to go back to school and it ends at 4:30pm.
The day when I found out that I was going to get adopted, I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to meet my new family. I wondered how many family members I will have. Do I have a sister? Or a brother? It seems that the days in the orphanage lasts way longer than usual. I’m not really a patient person. I had a birthday party somewhere and I wasn’t even invited. I loathed the adults that are in the orphanage. There are two stories in the orphanage. If you live down stairs you get bossed around a lot. And if you live upstairs you have a lot of freedom, like you can stay up longer and people won’t boss you. Downstairs they tell you when you have to go to bed and when you don’t listen to them you will either get hit or you won’t get anything to eat the next morning. I only got to live upstairs twice or three times. One of the times was when I got adopted by a different family and I only got to live with them for a week or so and then they sent me back. I was bawling the entire way back to the orphanage. And the only part of the day that I liked was that I got moved upstairs. I was so happy. I didn’t have to be bossed around anymore.
The day finally arrived, it was Monday, January 6, 2014. This was it I don't have to live in the horrid orphanage anymore. I had to sit in the car for a whole hour. When we finally arrived at the office, my face turned as red as an apple. I had a mixed feeling about meeting my new family. I was happy and I was nervous. There was another kid that was getting adopted that day. I was shorter than my little sister, Naomi. My older brothers Nathaniel and Zach had to go on their knees to reach my height.
Then I had to cover my hand in either red ink, and stamp it on the paper. We hung out with the people that we saw in the office when I got adopted a lot when we were in china. We went out shopping with them, we went to restaurants together. We went swimming with them. I didn’t know how to swim so dad had to carry me on his back. After we go swimming we would get ready to go out in the city. We went back to the orphanage and visited for the last time and we brought treats for the people that were in the orphanage. It was sad to leave my first home. I’m going to miss my friends, so I gave them a giant handful of lollipops and four crackers. In the meantime, I feel bad for the kids in the orphanage, because I got a family that would love me forever and ever and they don’t.
Even if I hated the orphanage, I’ll still miss it. When we were about to leave, the school bus came and a whole lot more people came off the bus. And there was the lady I hated the most. She smiled at me so I smiled back at her and I was terrified inside. I was terrified of her because she always kicked me when she sees me. We went back to the hotel and had ice cream. I realized that having a family was really nice. They took care of you and love you. We went to a safari park and saw dinosaurs. One of the mechanical dinosaurs spit mom in the face and a bird flew over her head and mom screamed. It was not her day. A few days later we started packing to get on the plane to America. I watched my first movie on the airplane, it was Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs. It took a long time from China to America. I wasn’t even expecting to have more family members. Our friends were there also. We went to my mom’s parent’s house and we had pizza for dinner. The pizza tested sour to me so my grandma made me a bowl of rice.
Four years later!
I realized that having siblings is not as easy as you think. You can get into fights a lot. As in getting into arguments and stuff. I get upset a lot with my siblings so I just ignore them. Sometimes they can be helpful, kind and caring. The lady in my orphanage makes me angry. When I think back I always think of her face and I always want to punch her in the face when I go back, but then I realized that I didn’t like the feeling when they hurt me. I also feel like IF I go back I would be scared to face her. So instead of actually punch in the face, I punch my tetherball and pretending that it’s her face. It somehow takes away my anger away.
I like living here because I don’t get hit like ever, and I also have great friends. I love all of my teachers here because they are nice to you and they care about your feelings, and respectful. I love learning new things everyday. I’m happy I ended up here than in China.