HomeBlogsChinese American Adoptee Navigates Highs & Lows of Searching for Birth Parents

Chinese American Adoptee Navigates Highs & Lows of Searching for Birth Parents

Olivia Wolf photographs the gate where she was found abandoned
Olivia Wolf photographs the gate where she was found abandoned

By Olivia Wolf
AsAmNews Staff Writer

(Editor’s Note: This is the sixth in a series of blogs following Olivia Wolf’s search for her birth parents)

I’ve been back in the United States for nearly a week.

While my brief time in China was a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows, my first week back in Portland has mostly consisted of sleeping until noon and waking up at 3:00 in the morning from jet lag.

I feel like I’m in a whole different world when I’m in the United States. My day to day activities and concerns are so far removed from what I was faced with in China.

Here I don’t have to struggle to navigate home—I can read the road signs. I can ask directions from someone and have a clue about what their instructions mean. My phone apps work when I’m not inside a hotel.

Talking constantly about my birth family search and trying to draw attention through media and flyers was also exhausting. I never knew what to expect each day. Here in Portland, most of my schedule is planned a week in advance.Olivia Wolf

My last full day in China was spent in Beijing. My dad and I visited the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square. I wish I had more than a day there, but am still happy that I was able to see two of the country’s most iconic attractions.

Since being home, I have continued to stay in contact with everyone I met in Shaoyang through WeChat. Another girl reached out to me who was looking for her sister. Although she probably looked more like me than any other person I’ve talked to, her sister was born in 1999—four years after me.

I have connected all the searching birth families to Lan Stuy from DNA Connect, the organization that provides Chinese families with free 23andMe kits. I have also tried to spread word of their search through Facebook groups.

Additionally, I’ve been posting Hunan adoptees’ stories on WeChat, since there are some reporters, policemen, birth families and friends from there who follow my feed.

It seems that one difficulty in connecting birth families to adoptees has to do with the different platforms that China and Western countries use to communicate.

For example, there is a Facebook group specifically for adoptees looking for birth families, but Facebook is blocked in China. In China, there is a website called baobeihuijia, where families post about missing children, but it’s all in Chinese and difficult to navigate for English speakers, in my opinion.

So, I generally find all my information about international adoptees from one source and all my information about China from another. I then spend a considerable amount of time relaying information between the two. If there was a platform that could easily connect the two that would be invaluable.

In order to continue my search from the United States, I attempted to contact Xixi, a well-known birth family searcher in China. However, she said that since I had already done so much, there was little she believed she could help me with. She then offered to hand out flyers for $400. Since I had already done that, I declined her offer.

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Adoptees Search for Her Birth Parents Begins

I am very happy that I decided to take this trip. It was challenging in many ways, but I needed to do it. I think that if I didn’t, I would always regret my choice and wonder what could have happened if I tried.

I hope that my family is in Shaoyang and will reach out to me when they hear of my search. If news does not reach them, I hope that they are able to live comfortably without knowing of my whereabouts.

What I dread is the possibility that I was trafficked from another province, and that my family has been hopelessly searching for me for the last 22 years. On my last day in Beijing, I read an article in the paper about a girl who was stolen and sold domestically, and then forced to marry her adoptive family’s son.

Now, thirty years later, the woman is finally reunited with her birth family. I’m not sure whether the story made me feel more or less hopeful about my own case.

Olivia Wolf Either way, I will keep doing my best to search from the United States. I hope that one day soon I will be able to return to China. Even if I don’t find my family there, the country has so much to offer from an interesting and essential world language to learn to delicious and hot food to taste, and kind people who have welcomed me to a second home.

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