Thoughts from a 15-year-old girl adopted from China

Leceta Chisolm Guibault, an adoptive mother to two teens born in Latin America, posted this letter by a 15-year-old girl adopted from China on a Guatemalan listserve. 

Introducing the letter, Leceta said, “I have no doubts that she is not alone in her feelings. Note that her family has been very open and proactive. She has attended Jane Brown’s workshops, adoptive families groups as well as a homeland tour. Then puberty hit.”

The letter seems to illustrate (at least) two things: First, how feelings toward adoption evolve as a child grows and matures. And second, how challenging the experience of adoption can be and is for our children, despite our best efforts.

 With the permission of Leceta (who got permission from the 15-year-old girl), I am printing excerpts of the letter here.

 “I’m kind of struggling with my adoption… I don’t get why it’s all coming to me right now. It’s not like I haven’t gone through all the adoption workshops or anything like that. I’ve been really involved in everything adoption but all of a sudden I’m asking the same questions but differently. Of course I still wonder if my birthfamily thinks about me but now I wonder if they realize the amount they have affected my life just like the way I live it. They obviously think they did the best but do they think about how it negatively affects me from day to day. I look in the mirror still and ask myself if I look like them but now I look in the mirror (which happens a lot more now) and wonder if they had simple things like a birthmark or something…”

“[E]verything I thought I was at peace with I’m like not anymore. They are the reason for so many of my insecurities and they don’t even know it. Is it bad that I don’t even consider them real people? Because I don’t. I can’t picture them just like I couldn’t picture China before I saw it for myself. Obviously I know I didn’t come from my adoptive mom but sometimes it’s like maybe I don’t believe that. It’s so weird… I almost hate my birthparents sometimes… Is that like wrong because I feel bad about it. I want to find them I really do but I don’t know if I can emotionally handle if I can’t and I don’t want to fail. I know it’s next to impossible so I’m just really confused… [F]or some reason I feel like I can tell you this but not my own mom …”


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10 Responses to “Thoughts from a 15-year-old girl adopted from China”

  1. Carina says:

    I found out that I was adopted at a similar age. Shock, denial and winds of anger pursued for up to 30 years. I totally sympathize with your thoughts and/or concerns. I used to wonder if i was loved even more than my 1/2 brother, since I was adopted by only one parent. THe other was my biological parent.

    I never went through any therapy until i was an adult. I always wondered what my biological parent looked like…or wondered how nobody could ever say “you look just like your…”

    I always had a hunch of what the truth was…until finally i asked my parent what happened….the call (couldn’t ask while in person. It wasn’t feasible) took 1 1/2 hrs. i certainly didn’t get an answer right away; nor did the answer arrive willingly. It took many attempts, most importantly, asking “put yourself in my shoes, reverse the roles and see how you would feel?”

    Finally, the person reiterated what had happened. I had closure to my life instead of the constant “wondering”. Now i can be the woman i should be, have always wished to be.

    It is perfectly normal to hate your birthparents…this is natural. Until i forgave, could i move beyond the anger.

    I shall write more tomorrow as I must go and sleep.

    Rest assured that you are so not alone and maybe we can start a blog to help others in our situation.

    Warmest regards,


  2. Jessica says:

    Dear Carina,
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. Personally, I learn the most from people who have been adopted, and their feelings around the subject. If you feel so inclined, I’d welcome more of your insights.
    Thank you again,

  3. Leceta says:

    Thank you Jessica for sharing this. Thank you Carina for your response! I am the lady that the young adoptee reached out to. She has soooo appreciated any feedback after giving me permission to share her words. I know she will find particular comfort in your experience!

  4. Jessica says:

    Leceta, thank you so much for your comments and for your unflagging dedication for the adoption community.

  5. Leah says:

    Hi. My name is Leah. I was adopted from China when I was nine months old and I am 16 now. The same things happened to me when I was little and still go on now. Sometimes a ball out crying wondering if my biological parents actually cared for me or if they were still alive. When I was in elementary school I wouldn’t know how to handle a situation when someone asked me about adoption. I didn’t know whether I should feel offended or just fine with the question. I have learned that people have reasons. All my mom told me was that my bio mom cared for me and she loved me but something happened so she had to leave me. I don’t know why; I’ll never know, but there are so many reasons. Once or twice I have hated my birthparents and felt like they neglected me and sometimes it’s been the opposite where I want to know what they look like. I remember once I looked in the mirror and tried so hard to point out what my birthparents might look like compared to me. I wondered if I had my dads nose or my moms hair. I have always wanted to find my parents, but I doubt I could.

  6. Jessica says:

    Leah, thank you for writing. You beautifully describe what it feels like to be you, as a teenager adopted from China, who doesn’t know, and may never know, your biological family; as well as what it feels like to be asked over and over about your adoption story. That’s a lot for a young woman to deal with.

    I urge you to keep writing, to sort through your own feelings and to educate others as well.

    This fall, a documentary that may interest you is being released, called Somewhere Between, following 4 teens born in China, adopted to the US:

    Thanks again for writing.

  7. Leah says:

    My mom actually sent me an email about that movie a few weeks ago. Thank you for sending me the link.

  8. Jessica says:

    You’re very welcome. If you are willing, I’d be interested in hearing your reaction to the movie. Only if it feels right to you. Thanks. ~

  9. Leah says:

    Sure I’d be glad to tell you! Hopefully I’ll be able to have time to see the movie.

  10. Jessica says:

    No rush, Leah. I know how busy life can get! When you have time and the spirit moves you, jot down a few impressions. No pressure.

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