If you have ever seen a picture of me alongside my family, or wondered why my last name is French, you might ask yourself… hmm what am I missing?? On the outside, you might assume that I’m an aspiring med sci student from the gta, but I assure you the inside story is much more complex and contrary to popular belief.
It all begins when I was only seven and a half months old. I was born in China and placed in an orphanage immediately after birth. I know very few details of how I ended up in an orphanage but I do know that in ’96, there were many other girls my age in the exact same situation. China assigned a law stating that families were only allowed to bear one child, which resulted in many abortions or child abandonments.
My parents, Lisa and Jean, already had 2 other daughters, Maggie age 4 and Elayna, age 6. One night on CBC, they watched a documentary about children in China who lived in orphanages and they were instantly moved. They also heard news about a couple in Newmarket who had just returned from China after adopting a baby. This is when they knew that God was calling our family to take this step.
After months of waiting, signing papers and meetings, my dad received the okay to fly to China by himself to pick up the child the adoption agency had assigned to family . Except the only thing was – I was not that child.
Whoa plot twist!?
My parents had been assigned another baby girl named Fanny. When my dad arrived in China, he was informed that Fanny had many medical problems. Due to these problems, my dad was unable to bring Fanny back to Canada with him. He ended up staying another 2 more weeks in China with Fanny, while the rest of the families were able to return home with the newest member of their family. I’m not 100% sure of the entire process, but I do know that Fanny ended up being adopted by another Canadian couple. This is where I come into the picture. Some people joke, saying I am the ‘back up child’, which technically I am, but my family sees it as saving 2 babies in this process instead of 1.
Above is the first photo of my family together at Pearson Airport.
Growing up, my parents instilled the importance of diving into my heritage. They always ensured I knew my story and constantly read me books about adoption. They took me to Chinese festivals and we visited China town often. They never desired for me to assimilate into this Canadian culture without having any knowledge of my Chinese heritage and for that, I am grateful. Growing up I never felt any shame or embarrassment about being adopted. My parents did a seamless job of integrating me into this new family and I never once doubted my place. With that being said, I didn’t lead a childhood without insecurities.
Just like any other child, I had many insecurities, except I had a greater disadvantage on my side. I grew up in a small town north east of Toronto. Just take a right at the nearest farm and you’re there. It was no surprise that my Chinese ethnicity stood out like a sore thumb. There was no hiding or blending in with the other Asian’s in my school, mostly because I was the only one. I had so many insecurities about fitting in and my looks.
I just wanted to be blonde and beautiful. I just wanted to be treated normally like the rest of my friends. I didn’t want to stand out.
My mom would always tell me that “I may not be born of her tummy, but I was born in her heart.” Cheesy I know, but it resonated deeply with me.
When people find out I’m adopted, they always ask me if I know my ‘real parents.’ The term ‘real’ is quite relative. I can tell that my mom hurts when people ask this question because I know she see’s herself as my real mom, which she is. As for my biological mother, yes I wouldn’t mind meeting her. I do have questions, but this isn’t a pressing matter for me to pursue. I don’t have any expectations of meeting my biological parents but I do wonder sometimes what they look like, what their personalities are and if I have a biological brother or sister… or even a TWIN!?
I am ever so grateful for this life in Canada. I can obviously state that it has been life-changing, but it’s also been a huge blessing. My mom told me not too long ago that the orphanage I was adopted from suffered from a severe flood, which led to the deaths of many babies. I can’t even begin to imagine what my life could have been because this life I’ve been provided with has been surreal. Thank you mom and dad for this incredible journey.