In honor of November being National Adoption Awareness Month, Portrait of an Adoption is hosting the third annual acclaimed series, 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days. Designed to give a voice to the many different perspectives of adoption, this series will feature guest posts by people with widely varying experiences.
I Do Not Know How or Why I Was Given Up
By Jenn Symula
“You have your mother’s smile” is a phrase that I have never once been told; a phrase I do not think I will ever hear. At family reunions: “We all received Nanny’s blue eyes!” You do not know the black and white contrast, of being the black sheep in a flock of white sheep, until you walk in my shoes. It is personal and it is not easy.
Adoption by definition is taking or choosing something as one’s own. However, by my definition it is taking a small infant who was once left on the side of a busy street, sent to an orphanage, and flown 6,900 miles to live a better life with blindly fated strangers. It is a blessing to be adopted and rescued from a corrupt, frightening communist country: China. It is a simple blessing to have opportunities and second chances.
“You are lucky,” I am told verbatim. It is the truth, I am very lucky to be adopted. Yet, I do not find it to be easy. I have to wonder. When will it be my turn to know my genetics? When will I know if my genes carry Alzheimer’s disease? When will I know: do I look like my birth mother? Do I have siblings? A twin? The questions are infinite. As a personal experience that I live with every day, I feel different. I do not look like my mother, father, brother, or anyone that I am related to. I cannot participate in conversations when people share the exact time and date they were born on. Being adopted is a blessing, but it is also a reminder, or perhaps a curse.
The way I like to look at being adopted is that I am fortunate. I usually do not think about this kind of subject often, however after getting in contact with the girl I lived with in my old orphanage, I feel obligated to share my perspective.
There are many roles that are played during an adoption. There are the people who want you, the people who feign your family until you find a permanent family, there are the people who find you, and there are the people who gave you up. I know my ABCs by heart, I know that I can count to 100 without an ounce of doubt, I know that there is a blanket of fog that hovers over grass when the air is colder than the earth. I know enough, but I do not know how or why I was given up.
I give credit to the woman who gave me up although it was illegal, and still is, to have another child. I give thanks and gratitude to my brave family who took a chance with fate and danced with the tedious chance of failing. I give my whole heart to a better life which has more than a factory or an orphanage. But I do not have answers.
I am different. I do not know what I will look like thirteen years from now, I do not know what diseases are carried genetically from generation to generation in my bloodlines, I do not know. It is simply complicated the way my life was weaved so intricately. I cannot tell you why I was adopted, but I can tell you that it has impacted my life all sorts of ways. It draws a black line that people see but do not discuss; it is a taboo to many of us.
But I want to share that it is personal and real and I face this every day, as do others. It is no secret that I am Caucasian. It separates me from children that know their families are related directly by blood and genetics.
I do not know much. However, I know I do not have my father’s nose or my mother’s eyes. But what I do know is that I am given a chance to be successful. The chance that many other children in China do not have. I am reminded every single day of life, that I am here for a reason, and I am given chances that many people take for granted.
My name is Jennifer Hurley Qaio Symula. I am sixteen years of age, I was told I am born on March 16, 1996. I am adopted. And I am here to remind you that it is not easy to be adopted, but it is easy to be grateful for the chances we are given.
Jenn is a senior in high school now, waiting to hear back from colleges. She would like to thank her mom Terry, her dad George, her brother Michael, and everyone else that has given her opportunities to succeed.
Get your award-winning copy of Carrie's book Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear.